Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Danger! Tigers Tearing through Rural Retreats; Breaking Through

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Danger! Tigers Tearing through Rural Retreats; Breaking Through

Article excerpt


TIGER Racing makes lightningfast, nerve-jangling, teethrattling cars. And it is strictly a family affair involving mum, dad, two children and even 72-year-old granny.

The cars are usually screenless, doorless and roofless. Climb in, stepping gingerly over the scorching exhaust pipe, slide into a lie-back posture, strap on the racing harness binding you to the narrow, moulded seats - and take off.

Beyond 60mph the exhaust is in full wail, and conversation is not an option.

At 80, life is a blur. At 100, you are like a space tourist out of Cape Canaveral.

We are on a bumpy, ruler-straight road, deep in the countryside, mercifully devoid of anybody or anything, including the boys in blue.

"We were airborne over those bumps," says Tiger chief Jim Dudley, who as a 52-year-old family man should know better.

Jim lives for his cars, and has done since he was a lad. Starting as a grease-monkey, he climbed his way up from lowly mechanic, borrowing money, doing deals, working with his brother, eventually opening his own garage, striving day and night, ending up with two lucrative Volkswagen franchises.

But he always had a dream. It was of Tiger, burning bright.

Realising the dream has not been without cost. "I had a lovely home in Kent - two Ferraris on the drive, classic cars all over the place - and managed to lose the lot. Must have been mad! That's the price we paid.

"The first five years - development, research, all the jigs, tooling-up - we lost a packet." He thought the breakthrough had come with a Japanese commission for 65 cars.

"That was some order for a little company. It went well for a while. We had to gear up, spent a lot of money, thought we'd got it made." But the Japanese economy went into reverse, orders dried up and Tiger screeched to a near halt. "It very nearly put us over the edge."

But when the chips are down, the Dudley family fights like tigers. "We pulled ourselves together, dusted ourselves down, got stuck in again. We'd lost the lot, including our home, but it just made us that much more determined. …

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