How Not to Be a Professional Racing Driver by Jason Plato
© 2019, published by Penguin Books
ISBN 9780241404164 (Paperback)

Motor racing drivers are a special breed with most having put everything in life on the line to have a career in their dream jobs. There are many who faded away without ever making waves while some have become synonymous with success behind the wheel.

Jason Plato falls into the latter category, having won two titles in the British Touring Car Championship and being the series’ most winning driver with just under 100 victories from a touch under 600 starts. His driving style of ‘win it or bin it’ is a reason why more consistent drivers have won more championships but not as many events.

Plato’s autobiography, How Not to be a Professional Racing Driver, gives an insight into his life, on and off the track. He talks about his early upbringing and how his cheeky, childish nature has never really faded away in his 52 years of life.

If you’re looking for a book detailing some of his greatest drives or the technical explanations behind some of the BTCC’s most iconic cars, this isn’t the read for you. It’s all about the stories which Plato wants to tell rather than the ones a dedicated motorsport fan would want to read, giving an insight into his character rather than talents.

Though Plato never makes himself as a saint, the book makes you realise there are two sides to every story as he talks about things like his legendary rivalry with Matt Neal and the seemingly endless days spent recovering from hangovers.

As an Australian, it’s interesting to hear about his relationship and subsequent breakdown with Roland Dane, back when he won a championship for the Triple Eight team in 2001 before Dane’s operation moved Down Under, starting what would be the most successful Supercars team in history.

Perhaps something that’s missing is some stories about Fifth Gear shoots, given that’s how most of the world knows about him. Plato is an underrated TV presenter and had great chemistry with Tiff Needell and Vicki Butler-Henderson but fails to mention Tom Ford and Jonny Smith, both of whom helped make up the show’s line-up in its glory days.

All in all, it’s a good read and an interesting addition to any motor racing fan’s book collection. Possibly those more invested in BTCC will enjoy it more but anyone with an interest in racing should pick up a copy if it’s available on the cheap.

How Not to Be a Professional Racing Driver is available in all good book retailers and online. Our review copy was provided to us by Penguin Books Australia.

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Jordan Mulach

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Canberra born and raised journalist, living in Brisbane. Sports Media graduate from the University of Canberra. iRacing addict