West Surrey Racing was created by New Zealander Dick Bennetts in 1981 to race in the British Formula 3 Championship and achieved success almost immediately as Jonathan Palmer won its debut race on March 1 at Silverstone and went on to take that season’s title.
Four more crowns were achieved in British F3 by 1991 with Ayrton Senna, Mauricio Gugelmin, Mika Hakkinen and Rubens Barrichello. Senna and Gugelmin also won the category’s most prestigious race, the Macau Grand Prix, with WSR.
WSR bowed out of F3 at the end of 1995 as the most successful team in the history of the series, both in terms of race victories and titles; its prowess helping it to become Ford’s works team in the 1996 British Touring Car Championship.
A breakthrough BTCC win was achieved with Will Hoy in 1998 while F1 legend Nigel Mansell memorably led ‘the greatest touring car race of all time’ at Donington Park later that year in another of WSR’s Mondeos.
For 1999 WSR began a two-year association with Honda, winning first time out with James Thompson and closing with a double-victory for Tom Kristensen at Silverstone in what was the final BTCC event for Super Touring machinery.
A new manufacturer programme began in the post-Super Touring era with MG; Anthony Reid taking victory at only the third event for the ZS racer in 2001 and he, Warren Hughes and Colin Turkington all winning races.
MG withdrew from motorsport at the end of 2003 and WSR opted to continue with the ZS saloons as a non-factory team for the next three seasons. They were rewarded by Reid’s independent drivers’ title in ’04 and race victories right up to the end of the 2006 season.
A switch to BMW machinery in 2007 marked the start of the most successful chapter in WSR’s touring car history. Turkington became independents’ champion in his first season with the German saloon and added an overall title in ’09 and a race win in the FIA World Touring Car Championship for WSR the following year.
Replacing the 320si model with the new 1 Series for 2013 paved the way for another overall title for Turkington in 2014. Turkington also won the independents’ title – the fifth for a WSR driver in 11 seasons – and helped the team add a fourth independent teams’ crown in the same year.
The 2015 season brought race victories for WSR’s three drivers; Rob Collard, Sam Tordoff and Andy Priaulx while Collard, Tordoff and Jack Goff combined to win the constructors’ and teams’ championships in 2016.
In 2017, WSR were honoured to be chosen as BMW's Manufacturer team in the BTCC as the German brand returned to the series in an official capacity following a 21-year absence.