Racing driver plays guitar in Classic Rock Show band!

James Cole - BTCC racing driver and member of the Classic Rock Show live band.

James Cole - BTCC racing driver and member of the Classic Rock Show live band.

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Interview by Graham Chalmers

Fast cars and pop stars have always gone together but James Cole is taking the idea to a whole new level.

The Classic Rock Show.

The Classic Rock Show.

As if being a formula series winning racing driver wasn’t enough, he’s now joined the live band for the hugely popular Classic Rock Show live tour which arrives at Harrogate’s Royal Hall on Friday, January 23

“Sounds terrible. Wasn’t one exciting career enough for you” is my opening gambit to this talented 26-year-old.

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you?” he replies in good humour before explaining that he’s combined both interests since a young age.

In fact, after studying at Paul McCartney’s LIPA, this Southport resident has been playing guitar in various bands for years, appearing at the Cavern in Liverpool and far bigger venues in the USA as part of the Brit Floyd tribute band tour there.

“I’ve always been surrounded by music but my commitment to racing meant I’ve not had time to push the music side as much as I’d like.”

Racing his way up the ranks, James won the British Formula Ford Championship in 2009, though he says his recent debut year in BTCC Formula One with the new United Autosports team was “challenging.”

Fortunately, the end of the BTCC season in October has given him the chance to swap Silverstone and Brands Hatch for live music venues.

As a new member of the experienced set of top musicians who have been touring Classic Rock Show for the past five years, James is looking forward to the new tour.

In fact, the idea of performing The Top 20 Greatest Guitar Riffs Ever was partly his - and fans can expect a blockbusting programme of hits by Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, Queen, Deep Purple, AC/DC and more.

He also admits to having thrown in a few wildcards that surprised his fellow musos in the team - Steely Dan and Wings. But then he is the tour manager as well.

“I suppose my managing side comes through being a bit of a control freak,” James cheerfully admits.

I ask this likable but ultra-focussed young man if he intends to drive the tour trucks himself as well?

“Ha! Some of the guys were joking they were going to get me an HGV licence.”