Lead Coach, Ivan Thompsett: Biography
My lucky break in driver training came in the year 2000, when I managed BMW’s M Power Institute and had the great privilege of working with some truly talented, extremely knowledgeable and highly professional individuals. By this time, I had long since passed an advanced driving test, been competing (at a modest level) at the wheel of an old Talbot Sunbeam 1600 rally car for several years, was instructing at a rally school on spare Saturdays, and thought I knew a fair bit about driving. How wrong and naive I was!
Cars (and motorbikes) and piloting them had been my passion from a very young age, followed by a keen interest in photography. My first proper job was as a photographer and staff writer for a small publishing house which produced several specialist car magazines. My days were spent test driving, photographing and writing about kit cars and recreations of some true motoring icons; a poorly paid yet great lifestyle for any young petrol head.
Driving highlights that linger in the memory include a really well engineered Lamborghini Countach replica running a 500 BHP V8; a stunning D-Type Jag recreation, faithful to the original in all respects; hilariously lairy 427 Cobra replicas; and not least a fabulous Bugatti Type 35 recreation. I became ever more enthralled in the art of driving well, something that many of these cars demanded, and absorbed all I could from those older, wiser and more talented than myself.
Fast forward a few years and I was project managing new car launches, promotional events and exhibitions for an agency that served manufacturers including BMW, Volvo, Jaguar, Mercedes and Honda. Which brings me back to the M Power Institute, which was BMW GB’s flagship programme, offering performance driver training to 1st owners of then-new E39 M5s and Z8s. The programme had a healthy budget and required a small team of just 5 trainers, allowing me to take my pick from the very best instructors in the UK; each of whom had a very rare crossover of skill sets, between dynamic driving on track and the ability to translate those techniques to very swift yet safe and smooth road driving.
Having recovered from the initial disappointment of realising just how much I didn’t know, I became a sponge, soaking up all that I could from the experience and expertise around me; whether in car with them or simply in conversation. Having a great many hours on a proving ground with a fleet of BMWs at my disposal, together with an unlimited tyre supply, did no harm either…
2 years of this and I was utterly hooked. Inspired. I left the agency to work freelance as a performance driving instructor, at proving grounds and rally schools whilst also gaining my ADI qualification to become legal to instruct for reward. BMW kindly allowed me to return to the M Power Institute, now as 1 of 5 instructors rather than as manager, just as the M3 CSL programme started. My colleagues were also on the very select ‘senior team’ at Porsche, and I was most fortunate to be drafted into that team myself.
And so began a 5-year stint working freelance for several manufacturers: primarily all over the UK with Porsche, but also with Mercedes AMG at MIRA Proving Ground, Lotus at Hethel and a few others. Having served this unofficial apprenticeship, it felt like time to start my own ‘proper’ business. The Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007 placed emphasis on the role of employers to assess and train their ‘at work’ drivers, so it seemed a good time to provide advanced driver training to corporate clients, building a team of top-level trainers around the UK to deliver no-nonsense, real-world guidance in an engaging and meaningful manner. All Road Training was founded in 2008, and is still going, delivering high quality on road, and 4×4 off road driver training to loyal clients (such as H.R. Owen) in the UK and abroad.
My performance courses initially ran as something of a sideline, keeping me invigorated and enthused: after all, this has always been where my heart lies. As things blossomed, it became logical to start a separate company, focussing solely on performance driver coaching, and Total Car Control Ltd was registered in 2012. In the years since, TCC has really gained traction, now with many hundreds of clients from all over the UK and internationally.
I sincerely hope that you, too, will become a valued client and benefit greatly from time at the wheel of your sports car with me at your side.
Ivan Thompsett – Lead Coach
Total Car Control Ltd.