Thrill-seeking grandad revs up for fast car challenge

A thrill-seeking grandfather is taking on the challenge of driving high performance cars at ‘breakneck speeds’ to raise money for a children’s hospice he has supported for over three decades. Pete Ridler is preparing to buckle up for his ‘Fast Car Challenge’, getting behind the wheel of a series of high performing motors at Thruxton Race Circuit in June to raise money for Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW).

Pete’s son Shawn threw down the gauntlet and set his dad, 77, the challenge which will see him drive a Porsche Sports Saloon, a V8 Ford Mustang and a single seat racing car. The challenge will reach an exciting climax when Pete, a retired helicopter engineer, climbs into a dual seat Formula One replica car – with a racing driver at the helm.

“I am looking forward to driving all the cars,” said Pete. “But being a passenger in the Formula One replica will be the ultimate white knuckle ride.”

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The Formula One replica could see Pete reach speeds of up to 160mph around the Thruxton Track in Hampshire, which is the one of the fastest and longest racing tracks in the UK.

“Apparently there is a white button on the back of the driver’s seat,” said Pete. “If it all gets a bit scary, I may have to push it,” he laughed.

Pete, who normally drives a Nissan Juke and lives in Yeovil, has set himself a target of raising £1,000 for Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW), a charity has supported for more than three decades. Pete and his wife Jenny have raised tens of thousands of pounds over the years.

“We’ve been fundraising since the day the foundation stone was laid at Little Bridge House children’s hospice in Devon more than 30 years ago,” said Pete. "And we’ve kept going ever since. We still do a couple of bingo fundraisers at our local community centre to raise funds which are always popular.”

It is not the first that Pete has raced fast cars, having taken part in a driving experience at Thruxton in the past. “Jenny is a bit concerned about me racing around in fast cars at breakneck speeds,” Pete said. “At the end of the day she wants me back in one piece so we can celebrate her birthday together the following day.”

But this may not be Pete’s last speed ridden adventure as he still has one car on his list. “I am really looking forward to driving the Mustang as that car is a real beast,” he laughed. “But I have always wanted to drive a Cobra and an E-Type Jaguar. “I think those may be next on my list.”

CHSW area fundraiser Kylie Gallagher said: “We are so fortunate to have had the continued support of Peter and Jenny over the years with their bingo events. What an exciting challenge this will be for Pete who will be putting down his bingo card and pausing his time as a caller to get behind the wheel of a high-performance car instead. Thank you so much from all of us at CHSW and we are looking forward to hearing how he gets on.”

Anyone who wants to make a donation for Pete’s challenge can do so at Pete Ridler is fundraising for Children's Hospice South West (

Children’s Hospice South West has been providing care and support to children with life limiting illnesses and their families in the South West for over 30 years. The charity offers specialist palliative and hospice care for the whole family, a sibling support for brothers and sisters, emergency support, end of life care and a bereavement service. To find out more about fundraising for CHSW visit .