To race fans he is part of the eBay Motors assault on the British Touring Car Championship, but away from the circuit, Rob Collard
has proven himself to be just as successful in his 'day job'.
When not doing battle on track at the wheel of his BMW 125i M-Sport, Rob is the head of his own successful demolition business, which has been built up over two decades to become one of the main players in the field – with an annual turnover in excess of £10 million.
But how did a king of demolition become a race-winning driver in one of the most competitive racing series on British shores?
“I come from a farming background originally and used to work with my father,” he recalls. “Over the years, he expanded into waste disposal and also dabbled a bit in demolition, although it was something he didn't enjoy.
“I saw something in it though and decided I wanted to do more of it, so elected to set up on my own. It has taken a long time to build up the company from what it was then, and there was a lot of saving that had to go into getting my first digger.
“Now we operate something like 50 trucks and 30 diggers, the biggest of which is a 75 ton monster that has the ability to cut through girders and that we use to dismantle tower blocks. That machine alone costs around £400,000 and we've used it on things like the British American Tobacco factory that we dismantled in Southampton – where there were 8,000 tonnes of steel to remove.
“In the same way that the BTCC is ultra competitive on-track, the demolition business is competitive off it and people will travel all over the country to try and get the big jobs. It's all about building a reputation that allows you to be at the front.”
Rob's desire to launch his business saw his early racing career put to one side, with his focus firmly on ensuring that his new venture became a success.
Despite being a championship winner in hot rods, Rob's aim was always to make it in circuit racing, with time spent in Formula Ford before the switch to tin tops in the one-make Vauxhall Vectra Championship. A third place finish in 1999 led to a test with the factory Vauxhall BTCC team, and from then, there was only one series where he wanted to ply his trade.
Initially running his own car in the second tier of the series, because it was 'more cost effective', Rob moved into the main class in 2003 and took the Independents' title before his relationship with WSR – the team behind the eBay Motors programme – first started.
Seven wins and more than 30 podium finishes have followed across the seasons, with his success off-track being matched on it.