Ian Gough and Tom Wrigley are teaming up with The Lions Barber Collective and FastR to campaign a new RACE LAB-run McLaren Artura GT4 in this season’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship.
But as well as battling for victories and podiums, the programme has a far more important aim: to raise mental health awareness and shine a particular light on the high rate of suicide amongst men aged 45 and under in the UK.
And that’s where The Lions Barber Collective comes in. The mental health charity’s research indicates that men would rather talk to their hairdresser than a doctor or family member about how they feel.
The Collective’s group of passionate barbers, who are trained to recognise, ask and listen for signs of depression with their clients, will be offering free haircuts to men and women – be they team members or fans – in the British GT paddock this season.
The pop-up barber’s shop, which is due to appear at each of the six UK rounds, also includes a race simulator and ‘beat the pro’ challenge where spectators can win prizes by testing themselves against drivers from across RACE LAB’s three British GT entries.
They include Gough who makes his series debut this year after spending the majority of his racing career in national and club level Formula Ford categories. He was also a British Endurance Championship winner with RACE LAB last season and a Ginetta GT Academy appearance in preparation for his British GT4 graduation.
“I can’t wait to get going with this. It’s a life goal realised racing in British GT,” he said. “But the stakes are high; raising awareness for The Lions Barber Collective is an important purpose that is driving our team. But at the same time, we’re here to win. The British GT entry list is already looking stacked with talent.
“We’re fortunate to have RACE LAB with the incredibly experienced sporting director Euan Hankey guiding us through the year. And I’m delighted to be sharing driving duties with Tom. Tom brings raw speed and engineering insight that should put us in a position to be challenging for wins from day one.”
Wrigley, meanwhile, is embarking on his first full-season motorsport programme since finishing third in the 2018 Porsche Carrera Cup GB standings. His CV also includes winning the 2016 Ginetta GT4 Supercup title.
“After several years off track building my BMW tuning company, Tom Wrigley Performance, a new chapter has opened in my racing career,” he said. “I am extremely excited to be back behind the wheel in the Intelligent Money British GT Championship driving the McLaren Artura GT4 with RACE LAB.
“This year presents new challenges as the Pro driver in a Pro/Am partnership with Ian but I’m feeling ready for it! I am massively grateful to my sponsor FastR for giving me this opportunity and I’m looking forward to putting their brand and the car at the front for them, The Lions Barbers and all the other partners who are working with us for this season.”
Tom Chapman, CEO and Founder of The Lions Barber Collective, added: “When I was approached by Ian to put a programme together, I was immediately drawn to the idea. We are a grass roots charity and everything we do has to either raise awareness or raise money. This does both. I can’t wait to take The Lions Barber Collective to British GT, to raise awareness and reach our audience. British GT has 85% male trackside attendance, an important community for us to connect with. With our pop-up barber at every race and with our brand on the car, I know we will make a difference and save lives faster together.”
Ginetta Junior race winner and Ginetta GT4 Supercup front runner Fin Green also joins RACE LAB in a driver development role.
“I’m really grateful for this opportunity,” said Finn, who will take on testing responsibilities where Gough’s work commitments conflict. “GT racing is my absolute focus – to get access to the team, the car and the opportunity to learn through a season of British GT will prepare me for a full-time assault next year.”
Gough and Wrigley’s Lions Barber Collective/FastR entry is one of three McLarens overseen by RACE LAB this season. Lucky Khera and sporting director Hankey will share one of the team’s two GT3 cars, with the second driver crew to be named shortly.
“RACE LAB is excited to welcome Tom and Ian into the team running the all-new McLaren Artura GT4,” said Hankey. “Tom and Ian look set to be a great pairing. Tom is a proven competitor at the highest level, with past success in the Porsche Carrera Cup. To make his graduation into British GT and endurance racing should be a perfect step up in his career.
“I had the pleasure of racing with Ian last year, bringing home a win in the British Endurance Championship at Ian’s first-ever endurance race. He has great potential that we’re looking forward to unlocking together. I know he’s worked extremely hard to put this programme together with all his partners and the cause behind it all is something that really needs to be brought to light in our industry and I hope we will have a great impact on men’s mental health. I really do hope they have a fantastic season ahead.”
Enabling the programme is FastR, a collective of like-minded industry professionals, each with extensive commercial and industry-specific experience.
“We’ve come together to introduce positive and progressive change in motorsport,” said FastR CEO Luke Clayton. “Since 2018 we’ve been building a global hub for automotive innovation – collaborating, sharing knowledge and networking along the way. We’ve created a globally recognised brand, one that is open to hard-working, talented individuals who wouldn’t ordinarily have had the opportunity to be represented in the motorsport world – that’s been our ethos from the very start. It’s our aim to inspire younger generations, too; they’re vital to the future of the industry.
“Leading the way for equality of opportunity and fairness has always been at the heart of our organisation, which means we’ve had to break down barriers to make the motorsport world accessible to a broader audience and demographic. Making sure the talents and skills of individuals are noticed is a substantial undertaking and we’re firm believers in people earning their way, giving credit where credit’s due. This British GT programme is a critical extension of our purpose and commitment.”
Oulton Park kicks off this year’s seven-event, nine-race Intelligent Money British GT Championship campaign on April 8 & 10.