Born: Middlesbrough, Teesside, UK
Lives: Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Status: Married to Clare, two sons Sam and Tom, one daughter Alice
Occupation: Director of MMC Engineering Group, based on Teesside
Motorsport debut: 1983
Hobbies: Mountain biking, shooting
Born and bred in Middlesbrough on Teesside, John McCullagh’s first steps into motorsport were in rallying. He joined Normanby Motor Club to marshal on events, before competing on a number of road rallies and then making his stage rally debut in an Escort RS2000 in 1984. Co-driven by Mike Corner, John also did a few events in a Triumph TR7, before doing the next two seasons in a Group A Nova, contesting rounds of the British Rally Championship in the same car and class as Colin McRae.
A switch to Group N machinery followed, firstly a Mazda 323 4WD in 1988, while 1989 was spent contesting selected British National rallies in an Escort RS and Escort G3. His success was noticed by Daihatsu who offered John a works drive in a Charade GTi for the 1990 BRC season and the RAC Rally. After a year the Japanese firm withdrew from motorsport, so in 1991, at the age of 27, John found himself ‘retired’ from rallying. The next 20 years, John concentrated on building up a highly successful business and settled into a busy family life.
In 2010, John treated himself to a road-going Porsche 993 Carrera 4S, but within three weeks this was replaced by a race-prepared 968 Club Sport! He joined the Porsche Club and entered the 2011 Club Championship for the rest of the season. John raced in the 2012 Championship with the same car, and then swapped it for another 968 for the 2013 season. John became Porsche Club Champion at the end of 2013 with 14 class poles, 17 class wins and 14 fastest laps. The 2014 season saw John behind the wheel of a Boxster, but for the 2015 season, he had a Cayman lined up, until a Carrera Cup drive appeared at short notice. A last minute decision was made to abandon the Cayman project and race a Pro-Am2 911 GT3 Cup car run by Teesside-based Redline Racing.
It was the biggest leap of John’s second motorsport career. The Boxster and 968 were both race prepared road cars, but the 911 GT3 Cup was a pure bred, full-on race car. The 2015 season did not start well, but it turned out to be a huge success. On his home circuit of Croft, he bagged two pole positions, two fastest laps, two class wins and ‘Driver of the Weekend’ to take a lead in the Pro-Am2 Championship. It was a lead he never lost, becoming Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro-Am2 champion at the end of the season by a clear 16-point margin.
The 2016 season proved that John was ready to move up to Pro-Am1, a big step, as it put the 52-year old head-to-head against the most talented up-and-coming fearless young drivers in Porsche Carrera Cup GB. The 2016 season started well, with two class wins from four races, as John proved that age is no barrier to success and that life really does begin at 50. Mixing it with the young drivers keeps him mentally fit, and thanks to mountain biking and the Porsche ‘Get Race Fit Days’ he is in excellent physical shape too.