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Alfie Brown and Callum Bradshaw to represent Britain in CIK-FIA Academy Trophy

Callum BradshawJunior X30 racers Alfie Brown and Callum Bradshaw will represent Britain in this year’s annual CIK-FIA Academy Trophy.

The duo teamed up last season with the BKC Racing squad within club competition. They are both racing in the Junior X30 Tour this term, with Brown scoring victory at the series’ opening round last month. Brown has significant karting experience and was supported by the Racing Steps Foundation in 2013. But Bradshaw, 14, has only completed two full seasons’ of racing. Bradshaw’s dad Peter owned a British Superbike outfit until 2010 when the family opted to focus on Bradshaw Jr’s karting career.

“I’m stunned that I’ve been chosen,” Bradshaw said, “seeing as though I’ve not been competing in karting for long or been around the paddock. The Academy Trophy will hopefully improve my ability as I’ll be racing against some top drivers and it will really help my racecraft. I’ve never been to the circuits on the calendar other than Le Mans which I managed to be very quick at.”

Bradshaw added that he will look to further learn from Brown: “I’ve gained so much from being Alfie’s team-mate last season and into this year. We work really well alongside each other, and I’m learning each weekend. I’m always looking for top spot, so I’ll be going out there to impress.”

Brown, who has former British karting champion Jake Dennis as a friend and mechanic added: “I’m over the moon to be selected, it’s a great opportunity to race abroad. I’m currently karting just for fun, but this could open up doors to other sponsors and more of a career in motorsport.

“I’ve known Jake Dennis since I was eight years old. I’ll use his experience of making the switch from club to international karting as I’m always learning from the steps that he’s taken. Hopefully he’ll be able to spanner me at some Academy Trophy weekends.”

John Surtees considers expansion of Buckmore Park

Buckmore_Park_Aerial_ViewJohn Surtees says becoming the outright owner of Buckmore Park will allow him to consider an expansion of the circuit and to develop it to become a feeder facility to the future of British motorsport.

Surtees purchased the freehold title of the Kent circuit as well as 90-acres of surrounding woodland two years ago following a 10-year struggle with the previous landlord. The 1964 Formula 1 world champion purchased the leasehold title last month from former managing director Bill Sisley, who will remain as a consultant.

Surtees will look to expand the activities of the Henry Surtees Foundation at Buckmore Park, including introducing the next generation of young talent into motorsport.

“I want to take Buckmore forward as it’s a fairly special place,” Surtees said. “It’s a challenge, but I want to make it even better. I felt that Bill [Sisley] was threatened two years ago, and so took the opportunity to take hold of the freehold. It’s something I’d outlined when I first got involved with the building of the Buckmore clubhouse, and it took on a little more importance with Henry.

The business will importantly carry on but alongside it, I’d like to do more activities for the Foundation.

“There are a bunch of things on a wishlist that I’d like to do, depending on what can be financed, as the Foundation itself cannot finance it, but we can support it. We are in discussions with a number of colleges and intend to use the emotion created by motorsport to help get youngsters on to a career path within the sport. I’d like to use Buckmore as a feeder to British motorsport.”

Surtees added that the use of the additional 90 acres will be explored: “I’d like to look at the possibility of extending the circuit and there could also be a self-contained area for road safety training which can also be used by the colleges for the next motorsport generation. We will be in a position to decide which aspects we will be able to develop by the end of this year.”

Sisley said that he and Surtees had been speaking privately about the idea of Surtees becoming the circuit’s outright owner for the past 12 years.

“This agreement couldn’t have happened until John had possession of the complete freehold,” Sisley added. “I cannot take the company further, whereas John will do, and this is a positive outcome for everybody. It’s a natural progression, I needed a new challenge too, and it allows John to fulfil his dream.”

Round The Bend – No more heroes

Has our changed relationship with karting killed off the titans of the sport?

2009 CIK-FIA WORLD KARTING CHAMPS FOR DRIVERS & ASIA-PACIFIC KF3 CHAMPIONSHIP  COLOANE-MACAU
Adam’s hero Terry Fullerton (right) in a pensive mood

In September 1977 David Bowie released one of the most inspiring and romantic songs ever recorded, Heroes. Paradoxically, punk intellectuals The Stranglers had a hit with No More Heroes in the same month.

A year later, I was given my first copy of Karting magazine and from there on was hooked on what for me then, and largely still is, the most exciting thing ever. In the September 1978 issue, Terry Fullerton’s victory in the RAC British championships started what was to become my deep and abiding hero worship of the moustachioed genius.

Ayrton Senna da Silva’s exploits in the Le Mans World Championships added his name to a growing list of admired drivers; that also included Mickey Allen, Jackie Brown and Martin Smart. When he won the 135cc world title at Parma, Mike Wilson completed my personal ‘Holy Trinity’ that already featured Fullerton and Senna.

Oddly, I never saw any of them race. My fandom was wholly inspired by what I read in Karting and its rival, Kart & Superkart. Such were the reports that, in some ways, I didn’t need to because their exploits were so brilliantly captured by the writers of the time. Consequently, my first racing kart was a Zip/Dap – because that’s what Terry raced – before I bought a Wilson Premier, made by Mike’s legendary father Brian.

Hearing that his son was one of my biggest heroes, Brian once rather playfully told my dad that the Premier was based on Mike’s works Birel chassis. On rock hard Carlisle tyres it certainly didn’t handle like it but I didn’t care. If it was an English Birel, that was good enough for me. It even took me to the 1983 MBKC Junior Britain title.

During my youth I never met any of them, not Mike, Terry, Ayrton or even Mickey. However, I did finally meet six-time World Champion Wilson in 2006 and after introducing myself in a rather mumbley, awkward fashion, he invited me to join him for a pint. Those couple of hours, spent chatting over several beers were a delight and he revealed himself to be as brilliant in company as he was on the track.

With Senna no longer with us, that left Fullerton as my last hero to meet. I had heard that he is a notoriously spiky individual who does not suffer fools gladly. As a result, I had often seen Terry in the paddocks throughout Britain and Europe but never quite felt brave enough to do the shaky-hand thing.

At the Wackersdorf U18 World Championship opener, I spotted him on the dummy grid and decided to man up and press the flesh. I struck up a conversation and found an amiable, articulate and fascinating character. On the journey home I had the pleasure of spending a little more time with him and whilst I can see why he has a flinty reputation, nothing could dislodge the ‘hero’ tag I had applied over thirty years ago.

Like Stirling Moss had in F1, Fullerton invented the concept of being a professional kart racer and to this day, the leading factories employ supremely talented individuals to represent them at the highest level – but I wonder if they have anywhere near the status yesteryear’s heroes?

Perhaps not. Sadly there are far fewer manufacturers now and consequently there is a greatly reduced demand for professional drivers. Moreover, kids’ relationship with the sport has changed. In the Seventies and Eighties, karting was often rather sniffily referred to as the ‘poor man’s motorsport’ – and of course many young, talented drivers would, like Senna, graduate from karts to cars. For those who did, far more remained in karting for karting’s sake. If you look at some of the names in back issues of Karting, you’ll regularly see names cropping up across several years, if not decades. Nowadays, youngsters come into the sport because they see it as a means to an end. It is simply the first part of the journey on the way to F1 and as a result we are often privileged to see, but then deprived of some epic talents; Button, Davidson and Hamilton, to name but three.

What is it that propels them out of karting? During the summer I attended a round of the British Touring Car Championship and the Formula Renault races were tortuous. The drivers and their families were openly bored and several admitted that they missed karting. So why risk possible career failure and penury by leaving the sport that made you? Some drivers recognise this and stay. Ben Cooper is a recent graduate to the professional karting ranks and for me is emerging as a future hero. He’s quick, at Kosmic on merit and a terrific bloke to boot. Ben Hanley –ranked five years ago as the ‘World’s best karter’ – has had the balls to return to his roots with Maranello and with the likes of Convers, Ardigo, Thonon, Cesetti and my fellow columnist, Gary Catt, we are far from spoilt for choice – but I wonder if, compared to Fullerton, Wilson and Francois Goldstein they are equal in stature to the colossuses of yesteryear? With the increased media coverage, today’s professionals should be bigger stars than their predecessors and if not, why not?

Shortly before he died, Senna was asked who he thought was the best driver in the world. ‘Mike Wilson,’ he replied. The mystified Grand Prix reporter said ‘Who is Mike Wilson?’ ‘The best kart racer I ever saw’

Even F1 heroes had karting heroes. We all still should.

The Champions!

EMERSON FITTIPALDI (1972 & 1974)

Named after the famous American author Ralph Waldo Emmerson, he began competing on motorcycles at the age of 14 before switching to karts. Helped by his older brother Christian, Emerson manufactured and marketed the Mini-kart, on which he became Brazilian champion. He came to Britain in 1969 and made an immediate impression in Formula Ford races, quickly moving up into F3 before joining Colin Chapman’s F2 team. Chapman entered him for the 1970 British Grand Prix in a third Lotus, use for champions part 1 - Buttonintending that this should serve as a gradual introduction into F1. However, Jochen Rindt was killed at Monza that year and his death persuaded the second Lotus driver John Miles into retirement. At a stroke, Fittipaldi was promoted from junior member into the new team leader. He rose to the challenge magnificently by winning the US Grand Prix four weeks later. After capturing the title in 1972 he had a poor season as his team-mate Ronnie Peterson proved to be much quicker. A switch to McLaren gave him another F1 crown but his next move to the Copersucar Fittipaldi team was less successful. He retired from F1 in 1980 but has since won CART and Indianapolis 500 titles.

JODY SCHECKTER (1979)

Soon after arriving here in 1970, the South African became known as a “spinner or a winner”. Before then, he’d raced karts in his home country, but freely admits that the standards were much lower than in Europe. After a short spell in saloon cars he won the South African Formula Ford Championships and with it a scholarship of £300 to race in Europe. Two years in Formula Ford and F3 gave him his first F1 drive at the 1972 US Grand Prix where he finished 9th. McLaren then signed him up as their third driver for 1973. A spin at the British Grand Prix was responsible for causing the biggest crash in F1 history, eliminating 10 cars. Despite calls by the GPDA for Scheckter to be banned, Ken Tyrell signed him up as Jackie Stewart’s replacement in 1974. He scored two wins at Anderstorp and Silverstone to finish 3rd in the championships and won his home Grand Prix in 1975. He drove the famous six wheeled Tyrell throughout ’76 and then had a fairly successful season with Wolf before signing for Ferrari. Three GP wins in 1979 were sufficient to make him Ferrari’s last world champion until Michael Schumacher’s success 21 years later. Jody retired in 1980 and now runs an organic farm in Suffolk. His sons, Toby and Tomas, both came through karting before moving up the motor-sport ladder.

ALAN JONES (1980)

Alan’s name wasn’t included on my original list due to a dim and distant memory of an interview he’d given not long after winning the world title. I seem to recall him saying that he’d driven karts a few times but hadn’t actually raced them in serious competition. However, further research has shown that he was actually the Australian kart champion in 1963. He’d grown up around racing cars and his father, Stan, was well known on the Australian circuits. At the age of 17, he swapped his kart for a racing Mini but soon began to show interest in his dad’s old F3 Cooper. Lack of funds restricted his racing activities in Australia but Alan spotted an opportunity on the European scene. His first trip over here in 1967 was unsuccessful, but he came back again the following year. In 1973, racing a GRD, he produced some good results in F3 and attracted the attention of Harry Stiller, who provided sufficient cash to fund a Formula Atlantic programme for 1974. Jones won three races and Stiller bought a Hesketh car for him to race in F1 the following season. Unfortunately, Stiller decided to disband the team after just four Grand Prix events had been completed.

A brief spell as Rolf Stommelen’s replacement in Graham Hill’s Embassy team brought him his first world championship points when he finished 5th behind Tom Pryce at the Nurburgring. Graham’s death later that year left Jones without a drive, but John Surtees came to his rescue and he scored 7 points for the Durex-Surtees team. He moved to Shadow following the death of Tom Pryce in 1977 and won his first GP in Austria. This victory persuaded Frank Williams to sign him for his fledgling team in 1978. Patrick Head’s FW07 introduced in 1979 provided Jones with his first truly competitive car, delivering wins in Austria, Holland and Canada. Five wins in 1980 were sufficient to secure the title. After a tempestuous relationship with his new team-mate Carlos Reutemann throughout the 1981 seasonhe decided to retire However he did make a return at Long Beach two years later, racing for Arrows. He ended his motor racing career on the Australian Touring car scene.

NELSON PIQUET (1981, 83 & 87)

Parental opposition led to Nelson Souto Maier adopting his mother’s maiden name of Piquet when he first went kart racing. At the age of 19, he won his first national karting title and repeated this success the following year. A move into Super Vee resulted in another national title and he was persuaded by Emerson Fittipaldi to try his luck over in Europe. A year after settling in Britain, he won the 1978 F3 Championships, breaking Jackie Stewart’s long standing record of most wins at this level. Bernie Ecclestone signed him up for his F1 Brabham team in 1979. He went on to claim 13 GP wins for Brabham and two world titles before joining Williams in 1986. This move produced a fierce rivalry with Nigel Mansell that allowed Prost to snatch the title. His 1987 success means that he is now one of only eight drivers with three or more F1 crowns. A move to Lotus in 1988 proved to be disastrous but signing for Benetton in 1990 gave his career a boost as he recorded two Grand Prix wins. In 1991 he defeated his old rival Mansell to notch up another win at Montreal and on that happy note announced his retirement.

KEKE ROSBERG (1982)

Keijo Erik Rosberg (nicknamed Keke) was one of Finland’s early karting pioneers who imported Tecnokarts. He competed in the 1966 world championships, finishing 15th and remained in karting until 1976.  After two seasons in Formula Vee and Atlantic, he had his first Grand Prix outing at the 1978 Dutch GP, racing an ATS. Some months earlier, though, he’d scored a sensational F1 victory for Theodore in the non championship BRDC International Trophy event at Silverstone. After two relatively strong seasons with Wolf and Fittipaldi, he joined the Williams team as a replacement for Alan Jones in 1982. Despite winning just one GP in Switzerland, his consistency earned him the world title by a margin of five points over Didier Pironi and John Watson. He scored five GP victories throughout his career, all of them with Williams. He moved to McLaren in 1986 but the car wasn’t competitive. That year Elio de Angelis, his friend from the karting days, was involved in a fatal crash and it persuaded Keke to retire.

ALAIN PROST (1985, 86, 89 & 93)

Alain began racing karts as a 14 year old and won the 1973 Junior World Cup held at Oldenzal in Holland. Moving up to seniors that year, he took part in the World Championships at Nivelles, finishing 14th. The following year, he became a full time professional driver, financing his career by selling karts and tuning motors. By winning the 1975 French karting championships he earned a scholarship into Formula Renault, claiming national titles in 1976 and 1977. His move into F3 was equally successful as he captured the 1978 French title followed by the European crown 12 months later. In 1980 Prost signed for McLaren with whom he scored 5 world championship points. Lack of reliability prompted him to look elsewhere and for 1981 he chose the fledgling Renault team. Prost completed three seasons with Renault, winning nine races that earned him 5th, 4th and 2nd in the world championship rankings. He returned to McLaren in 1984 and remained there for six seasons, winning an astonishing 30 races with three world titles to show for it all. After open warfare had broken out with Senna, he transferred his allegiance to Ferrari in 1990 recording five race wins that year. After a bad season in 1991, he fell out with the Ferrari hierarchy and took a year off. He returned to the sport with Williams and easily defeated Senna to win his 4th world crown. He retired from the sport having won 51 GPs setting a record that only Michael Schumacher has been able to beat. He spent several years as a TV commentator and McLaren test driver before buying out the Ligier team in 1997 and renaming it Prost. However, this venture proved to be unsuccessful and he closed the team down in 2001.

AYRTON SENNA (1988, 1990 & 1991)

John Mills telephoned me after the 1978 world karting championships at Le Mans full of enthusiasm about a hitherto unknown Brazilian. Ayrton Senna da Silva, had finished 6th immediately behind Britain’s Mickey Allen. He’d astounded most onlookers with his strong performance, yet still returned home feeling rather disappointed at not having won. Winning kart races was something that had come naturally to Ayrton ever since reaching the required age of 13 in Brazil. He’d been crowned the 1977 national champion, earning the right to represent his country at Le Mans. Determined to do better at Estoril in 1979, he secured factory support from DAP but it was his Dutch team-mate Peter Koene who lifted the title on count back. Another Dutch driver, Peter de Bruyn got the better of him at Nivelles in 1980, with Senna again finishing as runner up. In 1981 he moved to England and captured the Townsend Thoreson Formula Ford title then made another attempt to earn karting’s premier prize, this time at Parma On this occasion, though, he had to settle for 4th place behind Mike Wilson, Lars Forsman and Ruggero Melgrati. Despite easily winning the 1982 British and European FF 2000 titles, karting’s world crown still eluded him and he finished outside the top ten at Kalmar. A busy Formula 3 schedule in which he narrowly beat Martin Brundle prevented him from returning to Le Mans for the 1983 world karting championships.

Even whilst at the peak of his career, Senna was obviously proud of his karting links and lost no opportunity in publicly acknowledging their importance. In 1991, he baffled motor racing journalists by nominating karting stars Terry Fullerton and Mike Wilson as the two best drivers he’d ever competed against. This was in direct contrast to most other F1 drivers of that era who either neglected to mention their earlier karting days altogether or played down the importance of this period in their lives. Senna Use for champions part 2 - Villeneuve_1985signed for Toleman in 1984 and finished 2nd at Monaco. He also grabbed podium places at Silverstone and Estoril. Moving to Lotus in 1985, he claimed no less than seven pole positions, far more than any other driver and this marked him out as the fastest man in F1. Two more seasons with Lotus brought him 4th and 3rd places in the championship standings before he joined McLaren. Senna’s six year spell with McLaren brought him 35 race wins, three world titles, and general recognition as one of motor racing’s all time greats. He signed for Williams in 1994 with fatal consequences at the San Marino GP. Back home, the Brazilian government announced a period of mourning lasting for three days and it was estimated that more than three million people lined the streets for his funeral.

NIGEL MANSELL (1992)

Nigel began racing karts at the age of 12, joining the British Junior Team in 1968 along with Terry Fullerton, Tim Brise and Alan Turney. Despite a somewhat outdated Parilla BA13 motor, he still managed to look pretty rapid. At Fulbeck he finished 2nd behind Stephen South in the 1969 British Championships and this probably rates as his best performance on a kart. His choice of chassis was a Dale Cutlass, which no other Class 1 competitor tended to favour. The following year, he moved into gearbox karting with a 210 Villiers and notched up lots of victories, mostly at club level. Whilst competing in the 1973 World Cup at Morecambe he sustained serious injuries after a track rod snapped on his approach to the hairpin bend. Compared to other top flight karting stars of that era, Mansell was known for his determination and bravery rather than pure skill. Half way through the 1976 season he moved into Formula Ford, winning six out of the nine races entered. The following year he raced in 42 events and won 33 of them to take the championship convincingly. By then, he’d left his job as an aerospace technician to become a full time racing driver. Shortly afterwards he broke his neck during practice at Brands Hatch and doctors warned that he’d never race again.

A season in F3 left him financially destitute and he could only continue racing by re-mortgaging his house. Suddenly, his luck changed thanks to another driver’s misfortune. His old karting rival Stephen South had signed a contract with Lotus to become their test driver for 1980. However, Stephen lost part of his leg in a Canam race. Colin Chapman decided to offer this contract to Nigel who, with no funds left, grabbed the opportunity gratefully. He made his F1 debut in the 1980 Austrian GP but had to retire with a fuel leak. Five seasons with Lotus brought him five podium places but no wins. Following Chapman’s sudden death, Peter Warr took over the team and had a low regard for Mansell’s ability, claiming that he’d never win a Grand Prix. After joining Williams in 1985 he actually notched up 13 GP wins before moving to Ferrari five years later. After announcing his retirement, he was tempted back into the Williams fold in 1991, claiming a further five GP wins. He achieved his goal of becoming world champion in 1992 with a breathtaking nine victories before retiring once again from F1. After dominating the American CART Series, he made a brief return to F1 a year later and notched up his 28th GP win in Australia. Nigel was a hero to the British motor racing fans. He wasn’t always so popular with his team-mates, however. Mario Andretti was moved to say of him “If Ronnie Peterson was the best team-mate I ever had, then Mansell must have been the worst.” What no-one can deny is that he reached the top of F1 with no financial backing, just lots of guts, determination and self belief.

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (1994, ’95, 2000, ’01, ’02, ’03 & ’04)

Michael’s father Rolf, a bricklayer by trade, adapted his pedal car to run with a small motorcycle engine and took it to the nearby kart track at Kerpen. At four years old he was by far the youngest club member. Rolf built him a proper kart from discarded spare parts and, at the age of six, Michael used this makeshift machine to win his first club championships. To finance their son’s racing, Rolf took a second job repairing karts at the circuit whilst mum Elisabeth worked in the club’s canteen. Even so, when the time came to replace Michael’s engine with a quicker one they couldn’t find the 400 Euros required. Fortunately, by that stage, his obvious talent had been spotted by several businessmen who stepped in with the necessary cash. His kart racing was restricted to local events because otherwise a national licence would have been required. In Germany you had to be 14 years old before a licence could be issued. For two years Schumacher raced with a Luxembourg licence but couldn’t compete in his own national championships. He reached his 14th birthday in 1983 and had won the German Junior title within twelve months. Backed by Eurokart dealer Adolf Neuberg, he finished 2nd in the Junior World cup at Le Mans. This was followed by 3rd place in the 1986 European Championships for ICA (now known as KF2) and he won this title 12 months later. To further fund his racing he left school early and began working as a mechanic.

Michael moved into single seater racing cars in 1988 and promptly won the German Formula Koenig Series. Willi Weber became his manager and masterminded a successful assault on the German F3 title in 1990. That led to a place in the Mercedes Junior Racing programme contesting the World Sports Prototype Championships. He made his F1 debut with Jordan at the 1991 Belgian GP, qualifying 7th despite never having previously driven at Spa. Eddie Jordan thought that he had Schumacher under contract, but Benetton moved in swiftly to snap up the young German ace. He justified their faith immediately by finishing 5th in the Italian GP, appreciably quicker than his team-mate, Nelson Piquet. By the end of his relationship with Benetton in 1995, Schumacher had racked up no less than 19 GP victories and claimed two world titles. Leaving this winning team for Ferrari may have seemed at first sight a rather strange choice but it eventually brought him another 72 Grand Prix victories and five more world titles.

Statistically, he remains the best F1 driver of all time. There were a couple of stains on his record, however. He was disqualified from the 1997 championships after attempting to run Jacques Villeneuve off the road. This followed another dubious episode in 1994 when he won his first world title after crashing into Damon Hill, some say quite deliberately. There was another incident during qualifying for the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix. Schumacher was provisionally holding pole position when he spun at Rascasse Corner and left his car positioned in such a way as to prevent anyone else from completing the lap. The race stewards subsequently placed him at the back of the grid. These and several other controversial incidents prevented him from being accorded the status of all time great in some people’s eyes. Despite retiring from F1 in 2006, he still retains close links with Ferrari as an advisor, mentor and occasional test driver.

JACQUES VILLENEUVE (1997)

A Canadian by birth, but raised in Monaco, Jacques was the son of Ferrari F1 star Gilles Villeneuve. He is actually named after his uncle, another motor racing driver, who in 1985 became the first Canadian to win an American CART race. In 1982 Gilles was involved in a fatal accident during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. Just two years after his father’s death, Jacques decided that he wanted to go motor racing. His mother Joann was finally talked into buying him a 100cc kart and he competed in one or two Italian kart meetings before switching to a135cc Birel/Komet. Shortly afterwards, his uncle enrolled him at the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School in Mont Tremblant, Quebec and he made an immediate impression. For several seasons, he competed in Italian and Japanese F3 events without too much success. During 1993 he raced in the North American Toyota Atlantic Series, posting seven poles and five race victories. The next two years were spent in the American CART Series, with Villeneuve scoring a resounding victory at Indianapolis in 1995. This brought him to the attention of Frank Williams who promptly signed him up for his 1996 F1 team, partnering Damon Hill.

He finished runner up to his team-mate Hill in the 1996 championships, but went one better 12 months later. Williams had to compete without Renault factory support in 1998 and Jacques was well off the pace. He joined the newly formed BAR team in 1999 for an annual salary of £15m and remained with them throughout four largely disappointing seasons. After taking a sabbatical in 2004, he joined up with Sauber-BMW, remaining with them for his final two F1 seasons. His last two years have been spent racing sports cars and competing in the NASCAR Series. Apart from his motor racing career, Jacques is famous for being engaged to Danni Minogue at one time. He also attempted to become a pop star himself, releasing an album called “Private Paradise” in 2007.

MIKA HAKKINEN (1998 &’99)

Like many other top flight racing drivers, Mika had his first taste of karting as a 5 year old. A crash on his very first outing failed to deter him and he was soon taking part in local events with a kart that had previously belonged to Finland’s rally ace Henri Toivonen. He eventually won five national karting championships before ex world champion Keke Rosberg took him under his wing, arranging sponsorship that allowed Mika to move into single seater cars.  By 1989, he’d collected three Scandinavian titles plus the British F3 Championships and had attracted interest from several F1 teams. After a rousing performance in the 1990 Macau GP, Mika signed for Lotus where he remained for two full seasons. In 1993 he joined the McLaren team, initially as a test driver but was drafted into their mainstream line up after Michael Andretti left half way through the season. He remained a McLaren driver for nine years before taking what was claimed to be a sabbatical in 2002. In between times, he’d won 20 GP races and finished as world champion on two occasions. His record would doubtless have been more impressive were it not for a certain Michael Schumacher who admitted that Hakkinen was the rival he feared the most. Mika never returned to F1 as originally intended but raced for three seasons in DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters). For 2007 there was much talk of him returning to McLaren’s F1 team before the Woking outfit finally decided on Lewis Hamilton.

FERNANDO ALONSO (2005 & 2006)

Jose Luis Alonso was a factory worker who had been moderately successful in Spanish kart racing. In 1985, as Mike Wilson was busy collecting his fourth world championship title, Jose decided to build a kart for his eight year old daughter Lorena. Unfortunately for him, she showed no interest in the sport but her three year old brother Fernando became immediately smitten. Jose had to make many alterations before Fernando could reach the pedals, but he was soon whizzing around a circuit near his home in Oviedo. Fernando’s mother worked in a Department Store and the family had limited resources to support his karting activities. However, it was obvious that he had lots of talent and sponsorship was soon forthcoming. He won the Spanish Junior title on four consecutive occasions from 1993 until 1996. Before entering senior karting he won the Junior World Cup at Genk. By that stage he was coming under the expert tutelage of Mike Wilson who also guided him to 2nd place in the 1998 European Championships for Super Cent, forerunner of today’s KF1.

Clearly it was only a matter of time before he moved into cars and in 1999 Fernando won the Spanish Formula Nissan championships. He also tested a Minardi F1 car that year and emerged the quickest by 1.5 seconds. After a season in Formula 3000, Alonso signed for Minardi and produced some notable results throughout 2001 Flavio Briatori snapped him up as a test driver for his Renault team in 2002 on the understanding that he would replace Jenson Button 12 months later. He scored 15 GP wins in his first four seasons with Renault and won two world titles. The dream move to McLaren in 2007 was spoiled somewhat by a rookie driver called Lewis Hamilton often out-pacing him. Despite winning four Grand Prix that year, Alonso’s 3rd place in the championship standings must have been a disappointment and rather tarnished his reputation. Back with Renault for 2008 he won two more Grand Prix, despite Renault’s lack of pace, and faith was restored once again. Who knows what 2009 might bring?

KIMI RAIKKONEN (2007)

Several years ago I asked Paul Carr to name the kart driver who had impressed him the most. After a moment’s hesitation he replied, “Kimi Raikkonen!. I’d been running Robert Bell at the same time and he was obviously very good, but Kimi had that touch of class that set him aside, almost like Senna in the late seventies.” Kimi had been winning national titles in Finland from the age of ten, but didn’t venture abroad until after his 15th birthday. He competed in the 1997 world championships finishing 30th and improved upon this result by half a dozen places the following year. At the 1998 Monaco Cup, he survived a first bend collision to fight his way through to 3rd place. By then he was racing with the famous PDB team led by Peter de Bruyn who guided Kimi to a fine 2nd place in the 1999 European kart championships for Formula A (now KF1). Switching to Formula Renault brought him seven wins from ten events in the UK championships. Peter Sauber was sufficiently impressed to offer him a place in his F1 team for 2001 and he scored 9 points helping to deliver Sauber’s best ever result of 4th position in the constructors’ championships. Ron Dennis also became a Raikkonen fan and promptly signed him up as a replacement for Mika Hakkinen. In five seasons with McLaren he won nine Grand Prix but retired from almost 40% of his races. The switch to Ferrari in 2007 certainly brought about more consistency and his six GP wins were good enough to make him world champion.

LEWIS HAMILTON (2008)

At the age of three Lewis had his first taste of karting whilst on a family holiday in Ibiza. After spending two or three years racing remote controlled cars, he went to Rye House for a few laps on some real karts. “That was it!” recalls Lewis. “It was all I ever wanted to do.” He finally got his first kart as a Christmas present just before reaching the age of eight. It was a very old and battered All-kart that his dad had spent many hours painstakingly restoring. Nevertheless, it was good enough to make Lewis instantly competitive and he won all his races in the novice class. His first time out on yellow plates was at Clay Pigeon, a race that he won against all the odds. In their old Vaxhall Cavalier Lewis, his dad Anthony, step-mum Linda and half brother Nic would soon be travelling to circuits throughout Britain. Lewis had been learning Karate for some time but after receiving one or two threats from angry fathers who didn’t like to see their sons being beaten, Anthony took it up as well. By this stage the All-kart had been traded in for a brand new Zip and Lewis was receiving support from Martin Hines. He won his first British Cadet Championship in 1995 at the age of ten, successfully defending the title 12 months later. Lewis famously approached Ron Dennis at the 1995 Autosport Awards ceremony and told him that he’d like to drive for McLaren one day. Ron signed his autograph book with the message “phone me on nine years time.” In actual fact, it was Ron who contacted the Hamiltons less than three years later after Lewis had started making waves in the JICA S1 championships. He was offered a place in the McLaren Mercedes Young driver Support Programme. It meant that Anthony would never again need to go out erecting advertising signs at 50p each to finance his son’s karting activities.

After scooping four national championship titles in cadets and Junior Yamaha, it was time for Lewis to try his hand in Europe. Martin Hines arranged for a factory drive with Top-kart and Lewis scored a sensational victory over Nico Rosberg at Parma. It was the start of a long lasting friendship as they became team-mates in an outfit set up by Ron Dennis called MBM. He finished 2nd in the European Junior championships before winning this title at senior level the following year. After noting Hamilton’s performance in the 2001 world karting championships, Michael Schumacher observed that he clearly had the right race mentality for a career in F1. Lewis then moved straight into Formula Renault, finishing 3rd in the 2002 British championships after setting three poles and winning three races. He breezed through this Series the following year with ten wins to his credit. A move into F3 was rather less successful, though he still finished 5th in the 2004 championships. He dominated the 2005 F3 Euroseries championships, winning 15 out of 20 rounds. There then came a GP2 title the following year which eventually earned him a place in McLaren’s 2007 F1 team. If you don’t know what happened after that, then you’ve probably been living on another planet.

JENSON BUTTON (2009)

Jenson and Lewis share a similar karting background, having both achieved remarkable success on very small budgets. Shortly after his eighth birthday, Jenson’s parents John and Simone separated. John bought a second hand kart from an old Rally-cross friend Keith Ripp and presented it to his son for Christmas. After several trial runs on a disused airfield nearby, they entered their first race meeting at Clay Pigeon. Jenson proved his mastery of the wet conditions and came home with a winner’s cup. In no time at all, he was racing in national championship events. Legend has it that, after a race up at Larkhall, John had to borrow sufficient funds to fill up their Transit van for the journey home. Button became the 1991 British cadet champion after winning all 8 rounds and repeated this success 12 months later by lifting the Junior TKM crown. After competing in the 1994 Junior World Cup, he was offered a professional drive with Tecno. At his first attempt, Jenson captured the Italian title and took 2nd place in the world championships for Formula A. His supreme karting success occurred in 1997 when he was crowned the European Formula Super A champion ahead of Davide Fore. The following season he joined some of his former karting friends such as Danny Wheldon, Anthony Davidson and Jarno Trulli by making the step into cars.

use for Off trackIn return for a 35% share of his future income, David Robertson and Harald Huysman agreed to finance Jenson’s motor racing career. It began with testing a Dallara F3 car run by Carlin Motorsport. Rather than jump straight into the F3 ranks, however, he opted for a season with Haywood Racing in Formula Ford. It proved to be a smart choice as he won the TOCA Slick 50 Championships and also took 1st place in the FF Festival at Brands Hatch. Jenson was also voted the BRDC McLaren Autosport young driver of the 1998. He chose to run in F3 with the Silverstone based  Promatecme team using Dallara cars and Renault engines. Even though his Renault was recognised as being inferior to the Mugen Hondas of Marc Hynes and Luciano Burti, Jenson still managed to win three races and finished 3rd in the championships. He also impressed Ron Dennis in his test drive for McLaren but it was Frank Williams who ultimately gambled on Jenson’s talent by signing him as a fully fledged F1 driver.

He scored 12 points that year which earned him 8th place in the championship table. “Jenson was excellent,” confessed Patrick Head, but unfortunately Williams had already signed a contract with Pablo Montoya. Button was transferred to Bennetton and had a disappointing season finishing 17th with just 2 points. The team was taken over by Renault in 2002 and Jenson finished 7th with 14 points, scoring much better than his team-mate Jarno Trulli. However, it didn’t impress Flavio Briatore who signed Alonso as Button’s replacement. Jenson’s next move was to BAR Honda where he immediately made a big impression. Hi finished 9th in the 2003 championships and improved to 3rd twelve months later. It wasn’t until 2006 that he scored his first Grand Prix victory winning in Hungary. There followed two very uncompetitive years with Honda before Ross Brawn took over the team. Six GP wins and a 5th place finish in Brazil were enough to earn Jenson the world crown. It had taken him ten seasons to achieve his ambition, but in truth this was the first time that he’d been given a competitive car. Few in the motor racing world would deny that his success had been richly deserved.

Tony Kart factory: a look inside

1
The tubes as they arrive at the factory

The Company

The company of Prevalle (Brescia), in the centre North of Italy, has been in the last years leader in the karting World, and has strongly contributed to making the history of karting in Italy, in Europe and in the World. Chassis with Tony, Kosmik and FA – Fernando Alonso – (the two latter born respectively in 2003 and 2006), engines with Vortex/Rok, and accessories with OTK, make Tony Kart Company one of the largest karting companies in the World.

Tony Kart was born in 1958 thanks to the passionate initiative of a great mechanical craftsman and it was one of the first companies which followed the American karting phenomenon, creating a chain production of chassis for go-karts. In 1983, with a new management, Tony Kart came to a turning point and the new company received a radical acceleration; the factory, in virtue of new investments on research and sophisticated manufacturing, engineered and started making methods of production even more efficient. After this rapid growth and modernization, Tony Kart quickly came to the forefront of the karting scene, conquering lots of International Titles starting already from the ‘80s.

2
Automatic bending to the required angles

What led Tony Kart to its great success the most is the non-stop technological development in accordance with the binding demand imposed by high level competitions. Two fundamental aspects allowed the factory to do the qualitative leap, guaranteeing the constant planning and productive development process: the employment of a highly qualified staff and the automation of the production phases. In fact, robots controlled by sophisticated software permit today high productive standards with quality near to perfection. Nowadays, in order to offer chassis more and more innovative and competitive, Tony Kart engineering department is always experimenting with new solutions according to the latest technological innovations present on the market. The essence and peculiarity of Tony Kart production are represented by the passion for mechanics and planning innovation.

3
The sections ready to be welded

In the late ‘90s Tony Kart concentrated in new fields as well, in conformity with the modern concept of factory. Some important sectors are now spreading in Tony Kart, such as marketing, communication and any type of multimedia support. These instruments allowed the sales network to extend and improve so much that it is now developed in 60 Countries all around the world. 
During these years, Tony Kart has been involved in exciting and prestigious cooperation relationships with top characters and associations of the international motor-sport scene. Last but not least the collaboration with the Senna Institute, which led Tony Kart to the creation of the jewel “Ayrton Senna Racing Collection”.

A new innovative production site was built and is fully operational from early 2000.
The factory is running its business based on a modern management system, skilfully coupling the numberless sporting victories gained so far with the perfect company administration.

From ‘60s till now, go-karts characterized by the unmistakable “green Tony” raced and won on lots of different tracks all over the World. Listing all titles won in years by Tony would bring to an unending paper, but what is interesting is that F1 drivers today racing and winning in the number one automotive racing championship, have learned and put the basis of their driving skills racing on a Tony kart! Jarno Trulli winner for three consecutive years of major International races such as Japan Grand Prix, World and European Championship, Japan World Cup, North America Championship and Oceania Championship. Sebastian Vettel also won with Tony in 2001 the Junior World Championship. Amongst British drivers racing and winning with Tony XXX.

This year Tony has started with success. WSK Euro Series, the most important European event, has in fact seen, on the International Circuit of La Conca, the success of Tony Kart-Vortex in the master category, Super KF, and in KF2. The protagonists of this success were Marco Ardigò and Ignazio D’Agosto.

The Visit

4
A robotic welding machine

A visit to Tony Kart company is like entering the Olympus of karting, where all the more advanced technology and know how of karting is preserved. A modern and very “clean” entrance introduces me and my photographer to our visit at Tony. Skipped the reception we quickly move to the heart of the Company, where an incredible number of shining chassis are aligned, mostly green, some blue and others cyan, respectively Tony, Kosmic and FA chassis. An incredible vision! All the atmosphere is more of a laboratory then a kart industry. It is clear how the main kart company has changed in the last years from a handcraft company to a real modern and international organization.

Production phases: From steel tubes through welding to chassis

5
The welds pre-powder coating

We then start our tour, considering that where we have arrived is the end of the production line for chassis. These are in fact completely built inside the company except for raw materials such as steel (tubes), magnesium, aluminium and plastic materials, which are then machined or stamped by Tony to build many accessories. Externally also colouring of chassis and components is applied.

So let us start from the steel tubes. These are carefully chosen in diameter and wall thickness and the specific information on the steel alloy with which they are produces is cautiously kept secret. The tubes are then cut to the requested length and bent to the right shape, using specific machines.

6
Assembly of the chassis

Following step is of dramatic importance with the tubes being put together on what is called a mask, which keeps all parts in the right position, as they will be finally displaced on the welded chassis. The mask is then introduced in a numerically controlled welding machine that has the possibility to weld with fantastic precision and speed all the tubes together. The mask rotates around the longitudinal axis of the chassis so weldings can be completed acting from over and under the kart. In around 45 minutes the robot welds all the tubes of the chassis and the base of a new kart is created. All weldings are applied using MIG (Metal Inert Gas) solution, which is a string welding with protective gas that avoids oxidation of hot metal with the air. This could in fact weaken the welding. This process and the use of an electronic robot with numeric control gives the weldings a very high and constant quality that permits to have great performance on all chassis produced. A visual prove of this is the very uniform “look” of the weldings that can be well seen before the chassis are painted. Another confirmation comes from the fact that Tony kart uses exactly these same chassis for its racing team and drivers. Only differences are the weight distribution measurements done specifically for each driver by seat adjustment and eventual addition of weights, and telemetry system application.

Also all other components are built internally in Tony Kart such as brake and accelerator pedals, steering columns, wheels, rear axles and rear bearing supports. All is finally collected together in a specific area and chassis are completed, by mounting all these additional elements manually by the operative staff.

What is then done externally to the Company is colouring of both chassis and components. All aluminium and magnesium components are coloured and anodized. Also the study of plastic front, rear and lateral bumpers is brought forward in Fondmetal Wind Tunnel.

At the end of the day Tony is able to produce a high number of new high quality karts per day and sell them all around the World, such as in US, Europe and Japan, but also boosting sales in Asia, such as in Cina and Malesia, and also South America, specifically in Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica.

7
The finished product

600 Issues: Personalities pick their favourite covers

1Karting magazine is now 600 issues old. This historic milestone has been reached six months ahead of the sport’s 50th anniversary due to readers receiving a double dose between July 1966 and June 1970 when the magazine came out twice a month. 46 years ago when Alan Burgess produced the world’s first magazine aimed exclusively at karters, I don’t suppose many people could have predicted that it would still be going strong 599 editions later. I’ve been an avid reader since issue number 40, although I’m a mere newcomer compared to Paul Fletcher and John Mills among others who have been assiduously collecting copies ever since Day 1. To mark this auspicious occasion, I asked 5 individual readers to recall an edition that particularly stands out in their memory. For good measure, I’ve also thrown in my own nomination.

CHRIS MERLIN
Issue No. 152
Early July 1969

Merlin tuned Villiers  engines were very popular  amongst Class 4  competitors in my day. The  wizard behind these motors  was a young engineering  graduate called Chris Merlin who established  a very successful relationship with Leigh  “Buster” Clarke from 2Motor Karts of  Surbiton. Buster manufactured the famous  Super Shrike chassis which Chris  campaigned very successfully, winning many  major events at home and abroad. Most  notable amongst these was his victory at RAF  Debden in 1965 when he became the outright  British Champion. Only seven other drivers in  karting history have been honoured with  such a title. He was also a class champion on  two further occasions in 1966 and 1971. In  1966, Chris produced his own 200cc rotary  valve motor to take on the Spanish Bultacos  and Montesas which were dominant at that  time. Partnered by Irving Jacobs, Chris used  this motor to win the famous Snetterton 9  Hours event on two occasions and they remain the only pair to have achieved this distinction. 20 years after his British Championship success at RAF Debden he made national headlines by taking out a High Court action against the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant for filling his house with radioactive dust. Today, Chris has opted for the good life up on the Isle of Harris. As if working his own smallholding isn’t exhausting enough, he still produces tuned exhausts for both the kart trade and a small group of individual gearbox drivers. His eldest son Sam will be coordinating Martini’s sponsorship of Ferrari this year with a special responsibility for looking after clients at Grand Prix events. It sounds like the sort of arduous job his old man might relish.

3“I became interested in karting within a few months of its introduction to Britain back in 1959. My interest was fired up after browsing round a shop at Charing Cross called Motor Books & Accessories. I spotted one particular book about American karting with a marvellous action photo of Duffy Livingstone on its front cover. The shopkeeper, Buster Clarke, had already developing an interest in this new sport himself and persuaded me to attend a demonstration event at Silverstone. After seeing the photo of Livingstone in a four wheel power slide, I didn’t need too much persuading. I remember at least two editions of Karting magazine that could have had the same impact. One of these was a shot of Roger Keele on two wheels at Fulbeck during the British Championships. In the end, though, I went for the early July 1969 issue which showed Graham Liddle cresting the hill at Morecambe with both front wheels totally airborne. Inside, there was an excellent report about the World Cup event won by Graham. I’ve always believed that karting sells itself short when it comes to creating a public image. This particular photograph was an excellent advert for the sport, however. Anyone who spotted this magazine in a library or newsagents couldn’t help but be impressed, just as I’d been by the shot of Duffy Livingstone some ten years earlier.”

JAMIE LITTLE
Issue No. 572
November 2003
Jamie went down to Lydd last October with a mathematical chance of becoming the new National Champion in Minimax. Realistically, however, his prospects looked slim. He confounded us all by pulling off a brilliant victory and Devon Modell’s 5th dddddplace gave Jamie the title by one point. He’d started karting four years earlier as a member of Rowrah’s Racing for Buttons scheme and soon made his presence felt on circuits throughout the North. Jamie is a quietly spoken 13 year old who puts a lot of thought into his racing. He’s moved out of Minimax and will contest Junior Rotax in 2006.

“I bought my first copy of Karting magazine in April 2001 just a week after I started racing. On the front cover was a photograph of Jackie Stewart standing with Henry Surtees’ kart. Inside there was a report of Jackie Stewart’s speech that he made at a launch day for the Stars of Tomorrow series where he said some very nice things about karting. There was also a photo of Martin Brundle’s son Alex. David Tremayne who my dad remembered as a former editor of Motorsport News, had a column called ‘From Karting to F1’ and there was a report about the March event at Rowrah that I was especially interested in reading.

eeeeeThe one I’ve chosen as my favourite showed Jason and Justin Edgar on the front cover after they’d both won the S1 Championships for Formula ICA and 100 National. This was the November issue in 2003. It was a very good photo and an excellent achievement for two brothers to win British titles in the same year. They’ve both given me a lot of help since I started karting and so I was pleased to see them succeed. Inside there was a very interesting report about the final round at P.F. where Mitchell Bayer-Goldman, Riki Christodoulou and Gary Catt joined the Edgar brothers as champions. There was a round of the European Championships for Formula A won by Ben Hanley and I enjoyed reading the report of this race. I’ve kept this copy in mint condition and it’s got pride of place in my collection along with the December 2005 issue that reported on my own S1 championship success.”

JIM COULTHARD
Issue No. 109
Mid September 1967

I first set eyes on Jim back in 1967 when we were camped near each other at Little Rissington. Along with fellow Northumbrian members Jack Angus and John Laws, Jim has retained a fantastic enthusiasm for karting. His memory of events spanning a 40 6year period is second to none. He has a superb collection of classic and vintage karts, most of which are over 30 years old. Jim runs a very interesting and informative web site called, appropriately enough, “Classic Karts of Northumbria.” In September last year he organised an extremely successful classic kart weekend at Rowrah with another one planned for 2006.

“I can think of three editions that are etched firmly in my memory. First of all there was the early October 1966 issue that showed Mickey Allen receiving his British Championship trophies from a beauty queen after the final round at Brands Hatch. It wasn’t the first time he’d been caught embracing a pretty girl! The reason I remember this one so well was because Mickey had been involved in a tremendous battle with Paul Fletcher all year long. We thought that Paul had the race and the title won but he caught up with a backmarker on the last lap and Mickey seized his chance to come through. Another ‘special’ in my eyes was the one from mid September 1969 that had British Champion Stephen South on the front cover. He’d won the championships at Fulbeck by beating Nigel Mansell, Roy Mortara and Terry Edgar. The best one for me, though, has to be Mid September 1967. This one covered the British Championships at Little Rissington when 16 year old Dave Ferris became outright champion. The front cover showed Les Sheppard winning Class 4 Standard at this meeting, but it was Roy Mortara’s performance in Class 1 Modified that stands out in my mind. Early on in one of his heats a wheel came off Roy’s kart but he still kept going. We couldn’t believe that a three wheeled kart could actually go so quickly.

7There was a fantastic atmosphere at race meetings in those days. I regarded drivers like Allen, Ferris, South and Fletcher as real heroes and the annual British Championships represented a rare opportunity to see them all in action together. Even though I was actively involved throughout the seventies and eighties, it’s the sixties that hold special memories for me.”

ANDREA McGUIRE
(AND MAX)
Issue No. 586
January 2005

When this year’s Super 1 and Stars of Tomorrow championships are eventually decided, I’m expecting the name of Max McGuire to feature prominently. Max has two very dedicated parents who approach his racing in a mature and responsible way. Along with 8Stephen McCormack, Andrea McGuire produced the excellent Karting Yearbook in 2005, a project which sadly won’t be repeated this time around. I knew that she would bring a refreshingly modern outlook to the task of selecting an outstanding edition.

“As someone who only has just over 3 years karting experience, my choices are much more limited than your other contributors. However, when asked to choose a favourite issue of Karting magazine, the Ben Hanley interview published last January sprung immediately to mind. It was a source of inspiration for quite some time, especially during the first half of 2005 when nothing appeared to be going our way. It served as a reminder that even the very best don’t always have a smooth ride. Ben’s philosophical approach to missing out on the world title was remarkable. Something about this article certainly hit home, especially with Max, and I’m convinced that reading about Ben’s trials and tribulations was responsible in some small way for us persevering with the sport. The Ben Hanley profile wasn’t the only article in this issue to catch our eye.

There was an article about Scotland’s Martyn Lyell plus a helpful guide to the Autosport Show which proved very useful to us on our visit. Max was also very interested in the interview with Darren Manning and Daniel Wheldon as he’s become quite a fan of Indycar racing. He thinks that these drivers must be especially brave to risk hitting the wall at over 230mph. He also had a smile to himself at the early photo of Dan in front of Jenson Button as their karts seemed so strange in those days. Mike Hayden had an informative piece about Formula BMW, dispelling some of the negative views about this particular concept. There was also comprehensive coverage of the London Cup at Rye House, ROK Cup (South Garda), and Rotax MAX Euro Challenge (Braga). I enjoyed reading Mary-Ann Horley’s account of the inaugural Champion’s Cup in Rome, especially as it involved a race for disabled drivers. Max thought that the circuit looked really exciting and it reminded him of Monaco. Any event that raises the profile of karting like this has to be good.

James Brown wrote a very good piece about the BRDC Single Seater Scholarship involving six Junior Max drivers. Craig Copeland and Richard Singleton emerged as scholarship winners. Ian Berry came up with a double page spread about his experiences in the Uniroyal Team Endurance Challenge racing VW Beetles and we had the usual WTP, TKM, Two Stroke and Rotax MAX columns. As regulars at P.F. we also enjoyed the Off Track piece dedicated to ten years racing at this circuit. Chris Walker produced a collection of stunning photographs taken over the previous 12 months which brilliantly captured the triumphs and disappointments of international karting. I’m always impressed by the photos Chris manages to produce and I think he’s right there at the top of motorsport photographers. In all, it really was a bumper issue and one that I feel will be hard to match in future years.”

PAUL FLETCHER
Issue No. 47
December 1963

What can I say about Paul that isn’t known already? He retired from racing in April 1986 after more than 26 years active involvement in the sport. During that period he’d taken part in almost 700 different events, winning 35% of them. He’d represented Britain in 38 Internationals, claiming 2nd and 3rd places in the European and World Championships respectively. For various reasons, British titles eluded him, although he claimed the runners up spot on 6 different occasions. After retirement he 44started sponsoring the careers of young up and coming stars with startling success. Under his guidance, Bobby Game, Gary Catt and Mark Litchfield all managed to claim the British crown that had eluded Paul for so many years. Many onlookers at Braga last year believed that, but for a freak engine failure, Litchfield would have added the world title to Fletcher’s impressive collection. Like Chris Merlin, Paul attempted to introduce a competitive British engine onto the karting scene. After he teamed up with John Mills, the Famrel (Fletcher And Mills Racing Engines Ltd) was produced in April 1971. Although this particular project foundered, Paul realised a long term ambition in December 1994 when he opened his own circuit at Brandon near Grantham. It is still recognised as one of Britain’s premier kart circuits today.

“I suppose that my most memorable copy of Karting magazine ought to be the first one that was ever produced. Without checking through my collection though I can’t honestly tell you what was actually in it, although the front cover with Graham Hill winning at Lakenheath obviously stands out in my mind. Probably the one I remember best of all was in December 1963. The three British Champions George Bloom, Bobby Day and Roger Keele were on the front cover. It’s interesting to note that we only had four major classes in those days and Keele won two of them. George Bloom was declared the outright champion by virtue of winning all 8 rounds. George was over 50 years old back then and I don’t think that even he would profess to being the best driver around at the time. Alan Burgess added a nice little touch in his review of the championships by including pen portraits of all the front runners in each class. Most of us have a streak of vanity and we like to read about ourselves.

The reason why this issue was particularly memorable from my own viewpoint was because it covered the third and final round of the European championships at Villacoublay in France. I’d got my Bitsatube handling like a dream in the heats and was very confident of winning the final. That would have given me the European title. We were kept waiting on the grid for over an hour until a television crew turned up and it started to rain. The perfect dry set up obviously doesn’t work in the wet and I struggled in this race which was won by Bobby Day, who had come into the British team as a late replacement for John Brise. Apart from a huge cup, Bobby also received a brand new Fiat 500 car as his prize. We actually won the team prize, but it was a French driver Jacques Guillard who claimed the individual European title and I finished as runner up. It was one of those ‘what if?’ races that you shouldn’t really dwell upon too much. However, whenever I’m asked to recall my most memorable race, this particular one usually springs to mind.”

MY OWN
NOMINATION
Issue No. 596
November 2005

For those who expected me to choose something from the sixties I have a small confession to make. The December ‘63 issue was actually top of my list before Paul Fletcher rang me with his choice. I can’t really be seen to imitate a Sheffield United supporter, so I’ve made a tactical substitution. I considered nominating the issue from early October 1968. This one had a photograph of Malcolm Naylor adorning its front cover. Inside was an article about the world’s first kart built by Art Ingels. It had just been purchased by Alan Burgess from Karting magazine and took pride of place at a Press Conference to promote the World 55Championships. Also in this issue, the five wheeled Barlotti kart belonging to Les Sheppard was revealed. After careful deliberation, I’ve chosen issue number 596 from November last year which showed Oliver Oakes celebrating his world championship victory. A British success in the world’s top karting competition isn’t totally unique.

Terry Fullerton managed it in 1973 and, of course, Mike Wilson dominated the world on no less than 6 occasions. Mickey Allen had claimed a top 3 finish four times over while Fletcher, Ferris, Lane, Steeds and Hanley have each achieved a place on the podium. 2005 was special though because no less than four British drivers, Oakes, Litchfield, Lancaster and Christodoulou all proved that they were quick enough to win, something that I don’t think has happened in any previous year. Equally important for me was that Oakes achieved his title on a British built kart. As if that wasn’t enough, John Riley collected the European Superkart title as well. On what may seem a rather less patriotic note, I was pleased to read that Scotland had won the Inter Nations event. Well, the Scottish Border is only 30 miles away from home and rooting for the underdog has always been a very English trait. Six other major international events were covered in this issue as well as ten national and two regional championship meetings.

Club events at almost 40 different venues were also well reported. All six regular columnists had made contributions and there was the usual very informative review of issues from four previous decades. Richard Brunning from Zip Kart made out the case for JICA, while Adam Jones interviewed Martin Brundle. Graham Smith produced an interesting account of developments at the ABkC, there was news of the International Kart Show at Donington and Iain Blair wrote a moving tribute to Peter Todd. It took quite a bit of reading, I can tell you! All things considered, I’m pleased that Paul Fletcher deprived me of my first choice. The November 2005 issue was clearly superior in every sense and it’s bound to become a collector’s piece. I’m quite surprised that Paul didn’t think of it in the first place!

Stirling Moss, Brands Hatch, 1960

This photograph was taken back in June, 1960 when the Lords Taverners organised a charity kart race at Brands Hatch.

Stirling Moss emerged as the race winner and he is seen here leading Innes Ireland. It was a high profile event that attracted large crowds with good coverage in the usual motoring magazines and some of Britain’s daily newspapers, too. Earlier that month, the reigning world motor racing champion Jack Brabham had recorded back to back F1 victories at Zandvoort and Spa. Ireland had followed him home at Zandvoort with Bruce McLaren finishing 2nd in Belgium. Both Brabhan and McLaren took part in the Lords Taverners kart race, with Graham Hill another recognisable name. Innes Ireland had made his F1 debut with Colin Chapman’s Lotus team 12 months earlier at Zandvoort.

Yorkshire born, but of Scottish descent, Innes joined Rolls Royce as an engineer before serving as a Lieutenant in the Parachute Regiment. He began racing with an old 3 litre supercharged Bentley belonging to his father. His success in winning the 1957 Brookland Memorial Trophy had placed him on Chapman’s radar and, when Cliff Allison left Lotus for Ferrari, he was offered a contract. Graham Hill transferred over to BRM in 1960 and Innes was promoted to team leader with Alan Stacey as his team-mate. When the Lords Taverners kart race took place, John Surtees had already joined Lotus as an occasional third driver. This would lead, indirectly, to a major row between Chapman and Ireland later that year. Stirling Moss also campaigned a Lotus in F1 events throughout the 1960 season, albeit as part of Rob Walker’s privately run team. He was already well established as a British motor racing icon, having finished as runner up in four consecutive world championships from 1955 onwards. In 1959, he’d claimed 3rd place behind Jack Brabham and Tony Brooks. Moss established a reputation for being able to take any car and knock at least one second off the lap time of its regular driver.

By June, 1960 he was serving as a Director of Keele karts, built by a family friend Mike Keele who lived close to Stirling’s parents in Tring. Later that year Stirling would take a couple of Keele karts over to the Bahamas and compete in the GPKA (Grand Prix Kart Club of America) “world” championships. The Lords Taverners had been formed ten years earlier by a group of cricket loving actors led by Martin Boddey. Their original aim was to raise money for the National Playing Fields Association by organising matches between thespians and professional cricketers. Actor John Mills served as the Taverners’ first President, but by 1960 Prince Philip had taken over this role. In between had come a string of household names such as Jack Hawkins, Sir Laurence Olivier, Tommy Trinder and Sir Ian Jacob. The Brands Hatch kart race was a significant departure from normal practice because, until then, fund raising activities had been confined to cricket matches and social events.

It was Sheila Van Damm who originally came up with the idea of staging a celebrity kart race. Then aged 38, Sheila had taken over ownership of the Windmill Theatre from her father, Vivian, from which source she developed many useful show business contacts. She could also draw upon lots of friendships in the motor racing world established during her days as a top rally driver. Her first competitive outing was in the 1950 MCC Daily Express Rally which she’d entered as a publicity stunt for the Windmill Theatre. Her Sunbeam Talbot bore the legend “Windmill Girl” on its bonnet. This event led to a place in the official Rootes group rally team for 1951. Competing in the 1954 Monte Carlo Rally Sheila shared in a prize for the top team along with fellow Sunbeam Alpine drivers Leslie Johnson and Stirling Moss. She became the 1954 European Ladies Champion and repeated this success a year later. Sheila partnered Peter Harper in the 1956 Mille Miglia driving a Sunbeam Rapier with which they won their class at an average speed of almost 70 mph.

She entered this race again in 1957 but retired after crashing through a shop window. This proved to be her last international event as a driver. Specially adapted Trokarts powered by Villiers 9E4 engines were used for the charity race, all supplied free of charge by the manufacturers, Trojan. This Croydon based Company had begun life in 1904 when Leslie Hounsfield set up an engineering concern known as Polygon Ltd. Eight years later, he produced his first car and changed the firm’s name to Trojan Ltd. 11,000 saloon cars and 6,700 vans were produced, all using four cylinder two stroke engines that claimed to have just seven moving parts.

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Amongst Trojan’s more famous van customers were Oxo, Cow & Gate, Duckhams Oil, Brooke Bond Tea and the Post Office. In the mid fifties Hounsfield’s controlling interest was bought out by Lambretta who used Trojan’s extensive premises for assembling their scooters. A 30 year old motor racing enthusiast Peter Agg took over the Company in 1959, but he retained a licence to build Lambretta scooters. That year Peter also decided to buy the Clinton engine concern in America. Whilst over there to conclude the deal, he visited his first kart racing event and became instantly smitten. Peter arranged for a shipment of Simplex karts, all powered by 95cc Clinton motors. Rebadged as Trokarts they made their first appearance during a demonstration event at Silverstone in August, 1959.

Within less than a month, the Company began its first production run at Croydon and claimed to have turned out 500 karts. Well known Trokart customers included Prince Charles, King Hussein, Max Bygraves and our very own Paul Fletcher. Peter and his team worked tirelessly to promote karting and the Brands Hatch race was just one of many high profile events that they became involved in. However, within 18 months of this race taking place production of Trokarts had ceased altogether. Instead, the Company concentrated on building Heinkel Bubblecars. They also produced Elva sports-cars before getting involved with Bruce McLaren’s F1 team.

Between 1964 and 1972, no less than 200 McLarens rolled out of their Croydon factory. After attempting their own ill fated F1 project in 1974, Trojan’s fortunes suffered a gradual decline, although Peter Agg himself helped secure Barry Sheene’s two world championship motor cycle victories when he took over the ailing GB Suzuki enterprise. There’s a popular misconception that British karting has only started to become widely publicised within the last decade or so. This photograph, and its accompanying story, is proof that the sport was capable of attracting high profile names right from those very early days.