The involvement with motorsport for the family goes back to 1959 when Lewis & Bradley’s great grandfather Ken Cleal decided that he would like to try a new sport introduced to this country by the American service men on the air bases around East Anglia, that sport was GO KARTING.
Karting grew rapidly and with disused runways from the second world war being all over East Anglia places to run Kart’s was never a problem.
In 1961 Ken let his oldest son David (Lewis & Brad’s grandfather) try the Kart, in those day’s you had to be 12 to race, David proved to be an instant success in a kart and it was agreed that between them they should build a second kart for David to race. A second hand chassis was found and between them they built what proved to be a competitive piece of kit, David even made some of the parts like the axle at school in metal work (the school was very supportive and actively encouraged this type of project).
During the four years David raced he had a great deal of success finishing as East Anglian junior kart champion loving every minute he spent on the track, the sport was growing so fast that it became much like today that you had to start spending a great deal of money to stay competitive, gone were the days of the home made kart so Ken and David hung up their helmets.
25 years passed before there was any thought about getting back into motor racing, David had always been keen on the sport as a spectator but could never afford to get involved, he was then offered a try in a new kart as there was a class being introduced at tracks like Tilbury and Rye House that catered for the heavier driver, David tried the kart at Rye House and fell in love with it instantly, the power and grip that was now available in the 100cc class compared to when he left the sport was unbelievable.
Having formed the company Essex Bodies Ltd, David had more money available to him and in 1990 started racing. In the first year back on the track he won numerous Championships with the Cambridge kart club and the Beccles kart club and took numerous trophies at every track he raced at, David kept racing for four years winning Championships every year and coming 3rd in the National Master’s final.
During his last year of racing David’s eldest daughter Paula started going out with Warren Kent, having three daughters who were all horse mad to have Warren in the family gave David an added interest in motorsport, Warren started racing karts using equipment that David had raced, you could see right from the start that Warren had driving talent and the natural progression was to move to cars.
Warren first drove a Renault 5TS in the Daily Star championship finishing 6th out of 30 cars, he then went on to race Formula 1st a single seater on the lines of a formula Ford, it was at this time through Essex Bodies that we became friends with Barry Lee and when the Formula 1st class was put on the Eurocar Package Warren joined Barry’s team, these were great times and a lot of fun was had by all.
Barry drove a V6 Eurocar and then went on to V8 having three of these in the team plus Warren in the Formula 1st, in the second year of running with Barry one of the V8 drivers pulled out and it was agreed that Warren should make this huge leap from a 1600cc single seater to a 5800cc V8 saloon car, a daunting prospect but one that Warren welcomed and apart from a massive crash a Malory Park one that he had a great deal of success at finishing 2nd in the championship in his last year.
During this period of racing Warren and Paula married and soon gave birth to Lewis in 1999, as a baby Lewis travelled all over the country with us while his dad competed in the Eurocar package, in 2001 Bradley was born and both he and Lewis seemed to have motor racing and horse riding in their blood because at a very early age they were both riding and driving karts.
Lewis first drove a kart at the indoor karting centre at Colchester at 7 years old going on to start racing at Red Lodge later that year, Bradley had his first race at Red Lodge the day after his 7th birthday, both boys showed great driving skill from the first time out.
Lewis and Bradley both went on to race at all the local circuits Tilbury, Rye House, Ellough Park, Red Lodge, Kimbolton and PFI taking trophies wherever they went. Having gained experience on these tracks they moved on to race in Formula Kart Stars, Super One, European Championships, World Championships and Lewis even got to race in Las Vegas in the USA Supernationals.
In 2015 Lewis started racing in cars joining the BRSCC Fiesta Junior championship, Bradley at this time was devoting his time to pony racing where he was National Champion 4 years in a row, Lewis came 6th in his first year of car racing and went on to race for a second year in the class where he came 4th in the championship.
It was 2017 when Lewis moved up to BRSCC Senior Fiesta’s and showcased his immense talent straight away, achieving three podiums at his first senior meeting including a first place. Bradley was now growing fast and decided that he would like to race cars rather than ponies so he joined the BRSCC Fiesta Junior grid swapping to Seniors in August of last year when he turned 16. It was a fantastic year for both boys, especially Lewis, who not only came 2nd in the Fiesta Championship but also raced a Sports 2000 kindly lent to him by Steve Mole Motorsport where he came second at SPA having not had the opportunity to practice at an average speed of over 100mph.
In 2018 Lewis finished 5th in his very first season racing in the TCR UK Championship whilst Bradley competed in the BRSCC Fiesta Championship before making the switch to the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup. This was then bettered in 2019 as Lewis finished 2nd in the TCR UK Championship, narrowly missing out on first place.
2020 was our most successful year yet. Bradley competed in the VW CUP where he had great success and finished the season as the 2020 VW Racing Cup Runner-Up. Whilst Lewis went one better and was crowned TCR UK Champion!
David, Warren, Lewis, Bradley and everyone at ESSEX & KENT MOTORSPORT are very much looking forward to the new season as they all hope to push for honours in 2021.