‘The pandemic has hit many school kids hard,’ says Alex Gallemore, whose son Harvey recently competed alongside him in the Ultra4 4800 Legends class at Walters Arena. ‘Kids should be out having fun – it’s just been such a challenging time for them. Thankfully we decided to enter the King of Britain event last year. Not only has it been something to focus on, but it’s been a huge positive distraction.’
Harvey isn’t the first teenager in Ultra4, but the 15-year-old from Chapel-en-le-Frith high school in the Peak District is now the youngest to compete in this extremely hardcore off-road motorsport. The duo’s result? An impressive third in class and fourth overall.
Occasionally we’ve featured Ultra4 vehicles in LRO (such as this previous iteration of Jim Marsden’s Gigglepin truck a few years back), and the tough engineering often boggles the mind. Alex describes them as ‘purpose-built rally behemoths, designed to take on boulders, near vertical banks and fast woodland stages in the quickest safest way possible.’ That just about sums it up.
Commenting after the event, Harvey said: ‘I had no idea it would be so tough and fast. We were competing against some trucks that looked like they were out of Fast & Furious, and our Tomcat looked so small!’
What about that Tomcat?
The Gallemores’ vehicle is a 100in Tomcat with a Td5 (10P) engine running a custom fuel map, with a variable nozzle turbo by VNT. Cooling is handled by a Defender V8 radiator with a 16in fan, and the engine is coupled to an R380 gearbox. Further downstream things get a little more extreme, with modified Nissan axles sending drive to massive 37in Maxxis Trepador tyres. Suspension comes from Fox 2.5 12in coilovers all round, with TrailGear Hydro Steer steering, while a Gigglepin GP100 ‘twin top’ takes care of the winching requirements.
The pair first got into off-roading three years ago as a hobby, and something they could do together. But it wasn’t long before they both got board of getting stuck in swamps at off-road sites. ‘I hated getting out and winching after my dad kept on getting stuck,’ says Harvey. ‘One weekend we found a site where we could open the throttle on a straight – at that point we both knew that speed mixed with jumps was the future and we’ve not been in a bog since.’
‘Thankfully, Harvey is quick to pick things up,’ says Alex. ‘He takes after his mother!’
Harvey was unaware that he was about to become a record breaker until his dad told him on the way to school that he would be the youngest Ultra4 competitor. ‘When my dad told me, I thought it was pretty cool,’ Harvey said.
Of course, motorsport is a team effort. ‘That’s the appeal,’ commented Alex. ‘Harvey and I have the basics when it comes to maintenance. Thankfully we have a great local crew coming with a huge amount of mechanical know how. Plus, they are all from the High Peak: Lee, Dale and Sam Goostrey from Kova Offroad in New Mills; Dexter Lenihan from Hallam Brothers Land Rover in Hayfield and Jack Burton from JB Welding services from New Mills – not forgetting the most important member, our team leader and Harvey’s mum Antonia Gallemore.’
‘To be able to race next to my son for two solid days was a memory I will cherish forever. He was brilliant on calling the lines and the Ultra4 racing bug has bitten us. We’ve a few tweaks to make to the truck and we will be back out for more.’
You can follow the Harvey and Alex's progress on Instagram and Facebook: search for ‘Td5 Tomcat’.