Graham Benge is a motoring and motor sport journalist, author and broadcaster. Books include “Get Home Safely”, “Buying a Used Car” and “Buy and Run a Banger”. He has been a newspaper columnist for 20 years, 15 years as a contributor to BBC radio and 10 years as dual presenter of a syndicated motoring show on commercial radio. He is a former lecturer on road safety and President of the Chichester branch of the IAM.
He has road tested almost every car on the road, career highlights being a Jaguar C Type, a Porsche 962 Le Mans car, the Mustang from the movie Bullit and Lady Penelope’s FAB1 from the recent Thunderbirds movie. He has completed numerous high performance driving courses including 2 days with Sir Jackie Stewart at Oulton Park, racing or performance road car courses at most racing circuits in the UK and several skid control courses.
Mike Gates is fanatical about cars.
Having been car mad since before he could walk, his interests include a broad range of cars from the 60s through to the present day; but his favourite drives are cars from the 80s and 00s, and in particular hot hatches, although he is very partial to an Aston Martin.
Mike is a serial car buyer and reckons he’s owned just over 40 cars to date, (we suspect it’s more), not including company or press cars; driving hundreds of cars over thousands of miles throughout the course of his career. Such is his addiction to cars that he has taken to purchasing a Hotwheels car every time he has the urge to buy a new car. The shelf above his desk is now full.
Mike owes a good amount of his mechanical knowledge to skills he developed by buying what can only be described as a ‘dog’ of an Escort XR3 whilst he was studying for his first degree in Media in the late 2000s. As an impoverished student he had no other choice but to fix it himself, making mistakes along the way but ultimately enjoying getting his hands dirty. It was only natural that his interests would influence his professional life, ultimately leading him to work in various roles within the Automotive industry, and picking up a further degree in Automotive Management along the way alongside fellow team member Jim Baxter. His experience has seen him consult on a number of projects in addition to providing personal and professional insight as a regular voice of our UKMotortalk podcast.
You can often find Mike covering live events such as the Geneva Motor Show, Goodwood’s Festival of Speed and Revival, and the Mike Hawthorn Grand Prix of Farnham, interviewing drivers, owners and enthusiasts alike. He is also a keen reviewer when it comes to testing cars, old and new. In his spare time he enjoys attending car shows and rallies or hammering around a race track in the Fiesta ST [FiST] that he co-owns with Jim.
Jim Baxter hasn’t always been a car nut. Bizarrely, his love of all things automotive started with a Volvo Estate when a couple of school friends invited him to Brands Hatch to watch something called “British Touring Cars”. The sight of Rickard Rydell thundering over the top of Paddock Hill bend in a car that looked remarkably similar to his Dad’s Volvo Estate ignited a spark that has been burning brightly ever since.
His love of cars, and racing in particular soon spread to Rallying and Formula One and he is UKMotorTalk’s resident F1 guru and regular host on the podcast.
He gets his own track fix behind the wheel of the FiST that he co-owns with Mike Gates and is always keen to explore the limits of the car and his abilities. He has also spent time on the spanners for a few different drivers in the Mini Challenge race series with highlights including the 2013 Driver’s Championship crown with future British Touring Car race winner Chris Smiley and 2015 Driver’s Championship Runners up position with Hamish Brandon.
Spurred on by the cars of another one of his heroes, Colin McRae, Jim has spent his entire working life in various roles within the motor industry starting at a Ford Dealership on work placement before spending time at a Subaru & Lotus Dealership before returning to his original Ford Dealership where he currently occupies the role of Dealer Principal, his experience in multiple roles backed by a degree in Automotive Management.
Despite being a self confessed petrol head, Jim is also an advocate of electric vehicles particularly for day to day use. However, for pure driving thrills, he remains of the opinion that petrol, for now anyway, still delivers more smiles per gallon than electric and is currently trying to justify the purchase of an Ariel Atom, however recently a Caterham 7 has been looking more and more attractive…
From piloting a Raleigh pedal-powered go-kart at the tender age of 5, to swanning around in a dipsomaniac Skoda-badged Q-car at the age of..well, let’s not worry about that.., Dave’s had a love for most forms of transport – wheeled or otherwise – for much of his life.
After a brief flirtation with (barely) powered 50cc 2-wheel motorised transport, he quickly-progressed to the far more civilised four-wheeled variety and for the benefit of his health and driving licence doubts he’ll be troubling the ranks of the motorcycling fraternity again any time soon..
A love of Italian motors has seen Dave own a string of Fiats – including 3 Uno Turbos, a rare Tipo 16v and a Barchetta.
The Italian affair only ending somewhat acrimoniously after a dalliance with a pretty Alfa 156 which chewed its gearbox leading to a new more stable relationship with Skodas which continues to this day.
Having passed his advanced driving test in 2016, Dave has since qualified as a Local Observer with IAM Roadsmart and now helps others to improve their driving – hopefully helping make the roads of the UK just a little bit safer for everyone.
For many years Dave has helped produce UKMT’s broadcast content at events including the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival and continues to contribute rambling prose via the website and podcast.
Mike Jones AAE, FIMI, MSOE, LCGI, ARPS
Mike is a fanatical “Petrol Head” suffering from the three C’s syndrome, i.e. mad about Cameras, Computers & cars in the same order. He adores all things of a deep technical nature relating to these three C’s in so far as achieving optimum image quality from today’s high end professional cameras and computers.
Mike is responsible for capturing all still images at “First Take Media” events, and he as a wealth of knowledge concerning high-end digital image capture for press publication and for print or web.
Mike’s own website, The Pixel Painter, is now online, and it is through this that he organises practical photographic workshops and seminars for photographers, both fellow professionals and keen amateurs.
First Take Media Ltd is a multi-media company active in a variety of media genres from print journalism to publishing, film to television.
In our specialist area – radio broadcasting – we present live programmes for a large number of stations, produce radio programmes and have become experts in radio presentation of motor sport events, specialising for over a decade in outside broadcasts to multiple radio clients.
Our world-wide list of radio contacts includes strong concentrations in the UK across both BBC and commercial networks. We also have extensive contacts with English speaking stations all over the globe, particularly in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.