F1’s Smedley launches new karting initiative

“We’ve got kids doing British championships as young as 11 years old who are spending £100,000 – and that’s just not a democratic situation for grassroots motorsport,” says Smedley at launch of new Electroheads series

Last Updated: 23/07/20 3:35pm

3:05
A new karting series has been launched with the aim of increasing accessibility and diversity in motorsport and Formula 1
A new karting series has been launched with the aim of increasing accessibility and diversity in motorsport and Formula 1

A new grassroots initiative aimed at making motorsport more accessible for aspiring young karters has been revealed by F1’s Rob Smedley.

Smedley, a former engineer at Ferrari and Williams and now Formula 1’s director of data systems, has launched the Electroheads e-kart race series to help make the entry points to racing more diverse and affordable.

The electric karts series, which is also being supported by F1, is holding its debut event this week at the Whilton Mill kart track in Northamptonshire.

Speaking to Sky Sports News about the initiative, Smedley said: “It’s to get more people involved. When I stopped being involved with the teams at the back end of 2018 it was about doing something, giving something back.

“Right down at the grassroots you’ve got to grow the amount of people that can get involved. It’s such an expensive sport, but it’s such a brilliant sport and it’s such a brilliant way of getting involved in motorsports and feeding that interest into Formula 1.”

Describing the entry to motorsport for young drivers and their families as “hugely expensive”, Smedley added: “Affordability is such a huge barrier to entry.

“We’ve got kids doing British championships as young as 11 years old who are spending £100,000 – and that’s just not a democratic situation for grassroots motorsport. And that’s exactly what we’re trying to do here, trying to make it cheaper, faster, fairer and bring more people into it. By doing that, you will organically grow that whole diversity piece across gender and across racial diversity.”

The series will operate on a ‘arrive and drive’ basis, with two age group categories in place from six to 12 years old, with participants competing in equal karts provided by Electroheads. Children can take part in half-day ‘taster’ sessions or compete in a full race weekend.

“It needs to be that option that if you haven’t got the means, if you haven’t got that 100K to spend, you can come and do this for 90-95 reduction or whatever the cost reduction will be,” said Smedley, who was famously race engineer to Felipe Massa at Ferrari.

“We want that to get better as well. As we grow this in volume, we grow this in reach and get it not only in the UK but out to other regions as well, we can just start to drive that price down. It shouldn’t be about how much money you’ve got, it should be about how good you are.

“We want to get kids from this series all the way up into Formula 1 and up into the pinnacles of motorsport. That shouldn’t be based on their budget and wallet.”

Source : Sky Sports