FORMER Ramsbottom man Tim Greaves is banking on support from a special colony of “Meixcans” in the town where he grew up as he continues his quest to make his FIA World Endurance motor racing team the best in the business.

The 57-year-old Switzerland-based entrepreneur is the team principal of Greaves Motorsport and the season has already begun encouragingly with a podium finish in the season-opening 12-hour event at Sebring in Florida.

Although the US race is not part of the World Endurance programme, it is regarded as the sport’s most demanding race, apart from the Le Mans 24 Hours, and an indicator of how the rest of the campaign may shape up.

In the opening round at Silverstone 10 days ago, the Greaves drivers in the Nissan-powered Zytek prototype powered their way to an impressive third place in the LP2 class before suffering a one-lap penalty from race stewards which dropped them down to fifth.

The team were penalised because America driver Michael Marsal, aged 24, failed to complete the minimum 1hr 15mins driving in the car because he was suffering from a bad back.

The Greaves Motorsport roadshow next visits Spa in Belgium on May 4 and former Peel Brow Primary School pupil Greaves is looking forward to some camaraderie with the group of race enthusiasts he first enountered at Le Mans, who, by sheer co-incidence, hail from the Ramsbottom area.

“They were all wearing fancy dress – as Mexicans,” said former cart racer Greaves, who has driven the Le Mans race himself three times – his best finish, fifth in class. “One of them was a Mexican Elvis Presley.

“They came ambling up to our garage at Le Mans, asking if they could have a look round and told us they had been denied access to a garage at a Formula One meeting.

“We invited them in and it was only when we got talking they revealed they were from Ramsbottom, where I spent my childhood. They have been following us to race meetings ever since and we’re always delighted to see them.

“There is far more fun around endurance racing – particularly Le Mans – than there is in F1. In Le Mans the party goes on for a week and you need plenty of stamina to keep up.”

After leaving Peel Brow as a youngster, Greaves went to boarding school – Giggleswick Independent School in Settle – before returning to the area and working at Crompton Brothers paper mill at Elton as a laboratory assistant.

But he always had a lust for racing and it was then that he became Britain’s first bath tub racing champion.

He later went to Bolton University (then BIHE) to study chemistry and was sponsored by Crompton’s to go to Salford University before eventually moving south to High Wycombe and launching a company, JDS Uniphase, building it up from a workforce of 30 to 30,000.

He was instrumental in building up Radical Motor Sport in Peterborough, but sold his interest in 2009 before establishing his current outfit.

Greaves, whose son Jacob, aged 24, is team manager, admits that motor racing appears glamorous but says there is an awful lot of hard work and big money required to keep a team going.

“It takes about £2million to keep a car going through a season,” he said. “And there have to be sponsors for the drivers.

“A key function when you are in motor sport is access to money. If you are quite talented and have easy access to money you can get into F1 quite easily. But endurance racing is much more fun.”