2 PAUL HARRISON
Rotherham based Paul was born in April 1969, the son of 2 Willie Harrison another legend of the sport (see separate tribute feature). He made his debut on the ovals as a Mini-Stox driver aged 8 and graduated through this remarkable feeder formula at the same time as other future famous names in The Big League e.g. 422 Nigel Whorton, 515 Frankie Wainman Jnr, 391 Andy Smith, 128 John Wright, 91 Tony Smith, 218 Rob Speak and 33 Peter Falding. Paul won over 100 trophies in the Minis before moving to the mighty F1 stock cars as number 22 in 1985.
He won his first F1 race at Long Eaton in 1986, moving to blue grade in the May.
Progress during his first three seasons was steady rather than spectacular and it was 1988 before he rose to star grade and 1989 when he recorded his first Final victory at Sheffield. His father retired on health grounds in 1990 and in 1991 Paul took over the famous number 2, continuing to add success and prestige to that memorable racing number.
PAUL'S RACING CV OF FINAL VICTORIES AND MAJOR TITLES
1 World Final 2011
59 Finals as at 8th June 2014
4 British Championships in 1991, 1993, 2011 & 2014
2 European Championships in 1998 and 2003 (Also 2 x 2nd places and 5 x 3rd places)
Numerous other race wins
Paul has never appeared to go all out for the National Points Championship (National Series since 2002) but since 1989 he has never been outside the top 8 drivers every year. This includes 1 x 2nd place, 6 x 3rd places and 8 x 4th places.
As far as the World Championship is concerned there was, inevitably, always a comparison with his father, Willie, who took 28 years to win the World Championship and what a night that was at the old Belle Vue in 1982. But Paul had come so close to winning as well. 14 top 10 places and 5 podium finishes (3 times 2nd and twice 3rd) show how hard he has tried.
I remember the 1996 race at Coventry when he caught the leader 53 John Lund and gave him a huge hit. It deserved and should have given him the lead but Lundy was fortunate to bounce off a foreign competitor and remain ahead. The impact of his bumper on the 53 car dislodged a radiator hose on Paul's car and with his Chevy engine overheating he did well to finish 2nd.
In 1999, again at Coventry, Paul was lying 4th but suffered a steering problem that finished his race, just as the first three cars of Andy Smith, Frankie Wainman Jnr and John Lund took each other out. It was 97 Murray Harrison who benefitted on the night but it could easily have been Paul but for the steering failure.
But in 2011, at Northampton International Raceway, it all came together and after 26 years Paul finally won the coveted gold roof. A very proud father was there on the day to witness his son win arguably one of the finest, most competitive World Finals ever seen.
Paul Harrison is Mr Consistent - a skillful driver with sharp reflexes and a good racing brain. He is more than capable of using his front bumper and knows how to react to attacks on his own rear bumper. Sometimes a lack of aggression and the timing of his front bumper use can be frustrating to the many fans willing him on but they are only impatient to see his consistency rewarded with more wins, and it is easy to be critical from the safe side of the fence!
He was 7th in The All-Time Top 50 BriSCA F1 Stock Car Drivers compiled for the 2004 Golden Jubilee (behind his Dad in 6th place).
His car presentation is always immaculate and, coupled with his articulate racing interviews, the Paul Harrison racing team are a great credit to the sport.
Paul's son, Bradley is racing Mini Stox and it is clear from the beaming smiles that Paul is deriving much pleasure from watching him following the tyre tracks of his father and grandfather around the ovals.
The model below is of Paul's 1989/90 car. It is a Dave Seed built John Lund look-alike that propelled Paul to the forefront of stock car racing and in it he won his first Final as number 22: