Gary Paffett first developed his passion for motorsport watching his father, Jim, compete in club racing. After being given a Cadet kart for Christmas, Paffett Junior took to the track at the age of 9. Success soon followed and his natural talent was spotted by multiple World Karting Champion Martin Hines, who selected Gary for his Zip Young Guns team. Together they won multiple British karting titles and Hines continued to support Paffett through his rise to single seaters, where he clinched four titles in four years. Following his success, Gary won the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year award in 1999. Part of his prize was a Formula One test for McLaren in December 2000 where Paffett clearly impressed, as he has continued to test for McLaren every year since. After winning the British Formula 3 Scholarship Class in 2000, Paffett made the move to German Formula 3 with Team Rosberg. Just one year later Gary dominated the championship, sealing seven victories on his way to clinching the spoils. The future looked bright with a F3000 drive lined-up with new team Brand Motorsport in 2003, but the team hit financial difficulties after the first race. Mercedes took the opportunity to approach Paffett for DTM and signed him with Team Rosberg. Finishing sixth in his debut season, Paffett was promoted to a full works drive with AMG-Mercedes in 2004 where he narrowly missed out on the championship crown, despite taking five wins. Continued in DTM with AMG-Mercedes in 2005.