Sport on TV: Essex boys stage 'Deliverance' on wheels for Jordan gang

'I like crashing cars and here you can do it for fun and not go to prison'
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The Independent Online

Being old and senile, when I first heard the title Eddie Jordan's Bad Boy Racers I heard in my head Eddie Irvine's Bad Boy Racers, which suggested the ex- Formula One lad-in-residence mentoring a pack of party animals as they roister their way round the circuit. Instead, it is the former team owner who made a packet and is now Giving Something Back.

The man who discovered Senna and Michael Schumacher has spent the last few weeks plucking young men from behind the wheels of their stolen Mondeos and giving them the chance to redeem themselves on national telly. He started with eight, lost a couple along the way - reluctantly, not Apprentice-style - and in the final instalment (Five, Monday), the six left had seven days to strip and rebuild a Sierra Sapphire and drive it in a two-race banger rally at Arena Essex.

The car was completed to Jordan's satisfaction, via some nice Tarantino moments - one conversation, about semi-professional football, was a dim-witted joy - and on race day he surprised them with a team of cheerleaders and a motorhome the size of Braintree.

But the bigging-up marked them out and, with the camera scanning the regulars' faces, it was Deliverance time as they made their entrance.

Nicky, one of the two drivers, feared the worst. "All the other drivers," he said, "them seeing these girls here, they're going to think, 'That's it, we're going to have to smash 'em.'"

An astute analysis. It almost seemed choreographed as the locals ganged up on Mif, the first driver. He had taken a Lotus Exige round Silverstone in 49 seconds, but he was powerless as they sandwiched him for fun.

"I like crashing cars," he had said, "and this is a sport where you can do it for fun and ... you don't go to prison."

However, you do get targeted for being Eddie Jordan's track bitch. As Mif tried to get off, his chief nemesis came the wrong way round to take him out. Second lap, race over.

With the car a write-off, race two seemed out of the question till Jordan sprang another surprise: an identical spare. Nicky, second-best driver and the only non-car thief (he had pushed a teacher downstairs at school), was on. He was singled out as well, but with some nifty moves he stayed out of trouble until the eighth of 10 laps, when he was slammed into the wall. But they had finished in the top half. A triumph.

But were they redeemed? Over dinner at his mansion, Jordan told them he'd make it his business to see how they were getting on. Most of them are still out of a job, we were told, though nifty Nicky's working as a landscape gardener. The way he handled his banger, horticulture's gain may be motor racing's loss.

Next up! Tony Adams' Bad Boy Drink-Drivers, in which the former tippling Gunner guides a bunch of semi- professional footballers through six crazy weeks of bed-wetting and garden-wall demolition, climaxing in a life of total sobriety!