Steve Soper is preparing for a return to motorsport at the Silverstone Classic in what will be his first competitive drive in over a decade.
Soper, 61, was forced into retirement on medical grounds at the final round of the 2001 British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch when a collision with a rival car resulted in heavy impact with the barriers on the exit of Druids.
However, recent surgery on his neck means that Soper has been given the all-clear from his doctors to compete once again, stepping in to a Ford GT40 alongside close friend David Cuff in the two-driver World Sportscar Masters, which will feature a full grid of 58 Le Mans style sportscars from 1962-1974.
“It’s going to be great to make my comeback with David racing a GT40 at the Silverstone Classic,” said Soper, who was recently voted as ‘the greatest saloon car driver of all time’ in an experts’ poll conducted by Motor Sport magazine. “It’s such a mega event. I went last year and the racing was just fantastic; now I’m looking forward to be taking part in it.
“After the accident I was told to totally change my lifestyle, so that’s what I did. I totally stopped racing and concentrated on my BMW dealership in Lincoln,” he explained. “But last year I started getting pins and needles in my fingers, so I went back to see the specialist. To cut a long story short, he insisted I had an operation on my damaged neck which, thanks to today’s technology, has replaced three of my discs and two vertebrae with carbon cages. The surgeon tells me that, after the three and half hour operation in January, my neck is now as strong as it was when I was 21 and therefore has cleared me to start competing again.
“I’m still a petrol head and I find it difficult to be at a race meeting and not to be involved. More so recently as I’ve seen so many of my old friends having such fun in these fabulous historic events like the Silverstone Classic and Goodwood Revival. Now I’m back and really looking forward to doing a few selected meetings such as those, when lucky enough to be invited.”
The Silverstone Classic, which takes place on July 26-28, will also see some of Soper’s former BTCC rivals return in the Super Touring Trophy as well as a wide range of action both on and off the track.