Written By: Dave Bewley
His son Jenson had been having an uncharacteristic “off day”, but Scott Parker could still aﬀord to smile when I spoke to him at Rowrah recently.
We’ve got 16 Bambinos out on the grid today,” he beamed. “That’s more than any other class and I think people will have to start taking us seriously at long last.”
Over the last 12 months or so, Scott has been on a personal crusade to increase Bambino numbers. It is due in no small part to his tireless eﬀorts that large numbers of these very young drivers regularly turn out at venues which otherwise might have disregarded the class altogether. This has caused a degree of controversy in some circles. Several months ago, complaints were ﬂying around the UK Karting website that running Bambinos at Rowrah deprived “proper karters” of valuable practice time. Scott points out that Bambinos pay the full practice fee and have just as much right to be there as anyone else.
There’s a reason why Bambinos don’t run at Rowrah on race days even though Cumbria KRC would like them to. Rowrah’s “smaller” circuit measures 600 metres which is 100m outside the MSA’s maximum length for Bambinos. A dispensation was granted some months ago but carried a proviso that only four karts could run at any one time. Had the circuit been 100m shorter, then all 16 Bambino karts could have taken part quite legally in an MSA recognised event. Presumably someone down at Motor Sports House can see the logic in this dictat, but I have to admit that it totally escapes me right now.
Rowrah isn’t alone in its predicament. At this moment I believe that only two venues in the whole of Britain are either willing or able to run Bambinos during MSA licenced events. This may be due in part to clubs themselves, but the MSA bears a large degree of responsibility. Indeed, if someone had been tasked with drawing up a set of rules deliberately designed to ensure the Bambino class was destroyed at birth, I doubt that they could have done a better job.
On most circuits Bambinos are capable of reaching speeds of 35mph. There’s an entirely understandable fear that six year-old drivers aren’t capable of handling such high speeds. The theory was that, by keeping these karts on very short circuits, speeds would automatically be reduced. It doesn’t work that way, of course. The diﬀerence in top end speeds reached on long or short circuits is quite marginal and certainly doesn’t extend beyond a couple of mph. The plan to insert an intake restrictor on Bambino engines for next year will be much more eﬀective in reducing speeds. Whether or not this is a good thing will be a matter for some heated debate.
He recalls ﬁrst driving Clive’s 100 International kart at the age of seven. This would have produced
ﬁve times the power of today’s Bambino versions”.
It’s nothing new for kids to try their hand at karting even from the tender age of six. What’s a little bit diﬀerent today is the appearance of karts that have been tailormade for very young drivers. Previously, such kids were sent out on full sized machines padded with foam rubber and whatever else may have been necessary to let them reach the brake pedal.
Dave Evans sent me an email inspired by the photograph of Clive Loynes in last month’s Oﬀ Track column. He recalls ﬁrst driving Clive’s 100 International kart at the age of seven. This would have produced ﬁve times the power of today’s Bambino versions.
I’ve watched Bambinos perform on many occasions this year. Never once has therebeen an incident that looked remotely dangerous and I haven’t observed any kids looking out of their depth. I’d prefer it if these motors remained unrestricted but, if they must be slowed down, then at least allow them to run on a normal sized circuit.
I remember Dave Evans winning the Little Green Man Championships as a junior driver 32 years ago. Mickey Allen was the senior class winner that year. Today’s Little Green Man is run exclusively for WTP cadets. I’ve been interested in this class since it was ﬁrst established nine years earlier. When WTP production ceased 18 months ago, I and many others doubted that the class could survive beyond 2010. How wrong we were! Those who attended the annual Little Green Man awards evening will conﬁrm that WTP is in very rude health just now. Jack Harvey won the 2003 championships, following up with British and European Junior titles before moving into Formula BMW. Currently tipped as a potential F1 star, Jack attended the awards night, along with his family, as guest of honour and thoroughly enjoyed the occasion, as did everyone else apparently.
Amongst those who shared in the £10,000 prize fund were Harry Whittaker, Ben Hamlet, Sam Brough, Sam Palmer, Thomas Turner, Lewis Brown, Alex Sedgwick, Gaby Weyer, Max Stilp, Jordan Falding, Thomas Day, Cory Stevens, Sean Gee. Alex Stott and the 2010 champion himself, Sam Priest. The Little Green Man series is noted for its generous prizes and next year’s competition promises to be even better. Mike Mills has just concluded an agreement with electrical giant Samsung who will be the main sponsor of these championships in 2011. They’ll be adding prestige and, hopefully, a cuddy load of cash to what is already a superb series.
This is fantastic news for current WTP owners and anyone else who fancies competing in a highly rated national championship yet can’t aﬀord Formula Kart Stars or Super One. Already, 26 young hopefuls have signed up and it looks as though we’ll be seeing a return to full grids once more. Personally, I can’t wait for the new season to get under way.