Wed | Sep 26, 2018

My car came from scraps - Roan Jones

Published:Sunday | August 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMMickella Anderson
Jones’ ability to race as an adult has been one of his biggest childhood dreams.
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It has been a little over 10 years since Roan Jones built the engine for the vehicle he later went on to assemble on his own - the same ride he is proudest of today.

"Building your own car and competing with it, trust me, you have so many butterflies in your stomach to know it is a product of you, by you, from you," he told Automotives.

"My car came from scraps," Jones said. "Ninety per cent of my car is from other people's cars. Where they don't need those parts and they throw them out, I use them. I think everything can be recycled. Everything on my car is a product of something that somebody threw away."

 

The economical car lover

 

For Jones, the inability to afford something is a driving force for innovation, a lesson he learned as a youngster. When his parents could not afford to buy him toy cars, he resorted to making his own out of the resources to which he had access.

"I would make them (toy cars) out of boxes and spray cans, and that's how my love for motorsports started - by experimenting," he said.

As Jones grew up, he wanted to do more, naturally, so he went to school to become a mechanic. "Then I became a fabricator, so to speak, with motor vehicles. And I fabricated a lot of cars before building my own," he said.

 

Low-budget racing

 

"My car is scraps, but it feels good when you win an event in your class with it," Jones said.

"You've competed, and you carry it through a lot of rigorous things, and it doesn't break," he continued. "A race car should be a low-budget, low-funding thing that you can enjoy."

According to Jones, "A racing car makes you no money. It takes money. To race a car like an Audi, and it gets damaged, it takes you so much to put it back together. If you have a home-built car, you can go just about anywhere and find and replace a part."

He was quick to raise the point that "you cannot just go buy a $10 million car and scrap it. Let's face it, you have a $10 million car, just came from the showroom, nothing other than the chassis is good for racing. You have to get rid of everything - interior, carpet, roof lining, seatbelts - and then you have to rebuild the car inside out."

His advice: "Buy a cheap car that you can just modify and do what you have to do. Low-budget racing also helps entry-level people because the 'young blood' coming in can't afford to get any sponsors to buy them a car for $10 million when the sponsors don't even know them. We need to get back to the grass-roots level where a person can just come on in, see what is happening, like it, and jump on board."

 

Changes to the car

 

So far, the ambitious racer has competed at Dover, Jamwest, and Vernamfield with the same engine he built in 2006.

He mentioned, however, "I made some changes to the car about three years ago, where I dismantled the car. I took all four fenders off, and I cut the car because I wanted it to be a little wider. I added sheet metal to the fenders - put two inches spread on it - so the car now looks like a Lancia Integrale with the wider fenders on it."

Jones said that he is motivated by his peers, especially Maurice Whitnam, who gave him the push he needed. He recalled, "He was saying to me, 'Well, I know you can do it, but you're just reluctant to do it, so let me do it for you.' Because I didn't want him doing it for me, I started trying to beat him to the punch, trying to get it done, and it was a success, and it looks that way because of Mr Maurice Whitnam trying to jump in to do it for me."

Although racing his own invention has been fulfilling, Jones is aware of how much more he could do with one important addition.

"A lack of sponsorship means you have to work within your budget," he lamented. "I would compete more if that were forthcoming. Now, I minimise the competition based off my budget.

Still, he remains beaming with pride over the vehicle he describes as a crowd favourite.

"This car has a fan base where even Jeffrey Panton envies the crowd-following of this car," he said. "People are getting to know that this car is a force to be reckoned with and that it is (built by) a person who wouldn't give up and won't give up because he's here to enjoy himself. At the end of the day, you have to enjoy it to stay in it. That's the key thing."