When Lewis Hamilton was 10 years old, he was already into karting and doing pretty well. One day, he boldly approached Ron Dennis, who was then the boss of the McLaren F1 team, for an autograph and also expressed his hope of being a F1 driver one day.
Dennis recognised the potential of the young Hamilton and just three years later, brought him into the team’s driver development programme in 1998. The rest is, of course, history with Hamilton winning seven F1 championships to match Michael Schumacher.
Many kids have a dream of becoming racing drivers but not everyone is as fortunate as Hamilton, who also had a father who could help him realise his dream. Those from wealthier families are often able to have a go while there are also others who will sacrifice a lot to get into the sport and hopefully progress to a professional status.
For the under-privileged boys at the Great Vision Charity Association (Persatuan Harapan Mulia) in Shah Alam, Selangor, becoming a racing driver is probably a dream they don’t dare to have. However, they recently had a chance to get an experience of the world of racing, thanks to Hot Rocket Racing Club which organised a charity event for the association.
Giving back to the community
“Growing up, I was fortunate to have the support of caretakers who provided me with enriching experiences. I wanted to give back to the community by sharing my passion for racing with these boys and providing them with an opportunity to explore their potential,” said Paul Quek, who organized the event, and shared his own experience as a beneficiary of Great Vision Charity Association.
The event was held at the Pinnacle Go-Kart Circuit in Subang which was an ideal place for the youngsters to experience the thrills of go-karting. But it wasn’t just a case of bringing them there and putting them into the Sodi RT10 karts from France and letting them just race around the 1,000-metre track. That would be like going to a theme park, which anyone can do anyway.
More than just karting around
Instead, there were lessons provided to teach the boys about racing lines, braking points, and essential techniques to control the karts. They were even taken on a walk around the track first to be familiar with the corners, varying track elevations, and long high-speed straights.
Then they had their chance behind the wheel and just like in a real race event, there were qualifying rounds which allowed each driver to determine their fastest lap time. This also determined their position on the starting grid.
There were a few qualifying rounds and while these were going on, those in the pits could ask questions and get more insights into karting.
The race itself was 10 minutes, during which time the excitement reached its peak. Some pushed the limits, taking corners too fast and experiencing spins, while others maintained a steady pace, navigating the track with finesse. Finally, one karter proved the fastest and crossed the finish line first to the wave of the traditional chequered flag.
Prizes were given out and lots of photos (and videos) taken to commemorate the boys’ first steps into the world of motorsports. Who knows… the passion may be ignited so strongly for some of them that they will now look for ways to get into the sport in future.
“It was truly heartwarming to witness the excitement and enthusiasm of the boys as they experienced the thrill of go-karting. We are committed to providing opportunities for young people from all backgrounds to discover their passion for motorsport,” said Terry Kuan, founder of Hot Rocket Racing Club which has over 1,000 members today.