Lead car driver Bob Heath (left) with the Tour of Britain race controller Guy Elliot
Lead car driver Bob Heath (left) with the Tour of Britain race controller Guy Elliot

A former member of Newark Castle Cycling Club was at the wheel of the lead car during the Tour of Britain.

Mr Bob Heath drove more than 1,000km over eight days, including the 165km leg from Mansfield to his home town of Newark.

The 60-year-old, who now lives in Eastwood, spent the first 26 years of his life in Newark and still has family in the town.

He has been driving the lead car for the tour for three years.

Mr Heath grew up in Pierson Street, Newark, and attended Hawtonville Junior School and the Grove School, Balderton.

He began cycling in his early 20s as a member of Newark Castle Cycling Club and became a fan of the sport.

He lived in Belgium for a year where he raced competitively.

On his return he managed the former Texaco garage on Northgate and then Hatherley and Smalley Electrical.

Mr Heath married in 1982 and moved to Eastwood. He is a former traffic officer with Highways England.

He is a qualified cycling commissaire, the equivalent of a referee or umpire.

'To finish in my home town was too good to be true'

His knowledge of professional cycle racing and what to expect on the roads made him the perfect candidate to drive the lead car at the Tour of Britain.

“I retired two years ago and decided to put something back into the sport I love,” said Mr Heath.

He passed an advanced driving course so he was qualified to drive the lead car.

Mr Heath said: “It is a great opportunity to be involved. To finish in my home town was too good to be true.

“To have the biggest race in the UK finishing on Farndon Road is incredible.

“I got to do all those things I dreamed of doing — flying down Farndon Road at 60mph, driving on the wrong side of the road through town, and skipping a red light at Beaumond Cross.

“The crowds were tremendous — it’s the biggest free spectacle you can have.”

Mr Heath said the most challenging part was keeping ahead of the cyclists on downhill parts of the route.

His wife, Mrs Clare Heath, and nephew, Mr James Goode, were among family and friends greeting him at the finish line.