With the debate about the new starting procedure last weekend and the comments that Lewis could be the looser I looked again a couple of weeks ago at his Blue Peter exploits when he was seven. He had the talent then and he has it now.
It was great to see Jenson and John.
Thank you Joe, not least for relief from the depressing comments from some about Mercedes(domination) and Pirelli. Both companies are doing a superb job.
Unfortunate that Indy car racing has claimed two of those little boys! Amazing that all that talent was in one race though. At our local kart track you can throw a blanket over the first four or so cadets. Oh, if F1 was so close!
Desperately sad. There will be an Indy car drive across the Golden Gate Bridge in about an hour with Marco Andretti in the lead in car No 25 in honor of Justin Wilson.The event was originally planned to promote Sunday’s race at Sonoma, it is now of course something very different.The two safety cars which were on site trying to save Justin’s life will also be present and will fly Justin Wilson flags from the back of their trucks. Will Power, Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden will also take part.
Joe, WOW WOW WOW fantastic, I remember taking my son karting in cadets worrying about the engine starting but then watching the lads all race around like pros brilliant grass roots entertainment, recommend to anyone with a greasy burger from the snap wagon if we were lucky (or not).
Added bonus at the end of John Button looking as if Barry Sheene was about to appear in the background, what a proud Dad he must have been and with all the commitment the families put in, success is often deserved.
Thanks for reminding me of the joy of those days and how important it is for us all to support the racers of the future. Cheers Joe.
Wow! As a father whose son wants to race, it’s amazing to see a young Jenson…and his father John who is clearly brimming with pride, but who also shows a bit of trepidation. Ironic in that two of the top competitors in that race have now sadly passed while racing. Jenson’s fortunes have been better–but it all brings into focus the discussions that have occurred recently in this blog and other venues concerning safety and the risks inherent in sports. As a parent you want to afford your children all opportunities, but it must be heart-wrenching for the Wheldon and Wilson families to feel they fostered the activities that resulted in their sons’ demise. Difficult choices…
Wow, amazing racing from so many future single-seater racing stars – Anthony Davidson, Jenson (Yenson) Button, Dan Wheldon, Justin Wilson. Sadly two of those four are now departed which is a damn shame.
To me this captures the very essence of competitive motorsport.
In the old days we could watch European or BRDC F3 to spot the cream that was about to float to the top. Now there are so many one-make formulas and so very few competitive (non-paying) seats in F1. The genuine competition becomes a blur!
Fortunately, with the likes of the Red Bull and McLaren talent spotting programs we can be fairly confident there will always be a Verstappen Jr, chasing a Lewis Hamilton, or Vettel for glory, but we absolutely need a moch less complicated Formula that ensures that the driving talent, rather than engineering prowess, shines through.
But I doubt that we will get it with the current ring-masters in charge. It’s all about the money. Kerching!!!
I was until very recently a member of Clay Pigeon Kart Club (I live not far away from it) and raced in the TKM championship, but unfortunately I’ve had to curtail it due to family commitments and other things (certainly no danger of me becoming ‘the next Johnny Herbert’ I assure you!) – still dabble in some of the endurance racing up there when I have the time/money…
I would say to anyone who lives relatively near a kart club and enjoys motorsport – definitely go along and have a watch. As you can see, the racing is superb, and it ranges from the 8 year old kids dreaming of F1 right up to the people like me who do it for fun and dream of finishing without being lapped(!). Also, with the IKR championships that run alongside the MSA ones, it’s a cheap way to actually go racing – I would highly recommend it!
Firstly cracking stuff Joe, on so many levels.
I am sure we would watch that on tv if we were ever allowed. But that would kill it as the money would escalate with tv cameras there.
John button said £6000 for a season, I wonder what it is now.
Lot of people standing in very dangerous positions around the track!
Finally “choke the engine for reliability?” or did I mishear?
no you didnt …engines are run very lean for max performance but will seize up if not careful choking them (putting you hand over the carb) richens the mixture – not so bad at 50- 60 mph but much harder on a 250 at 130mph plus … lol
Back in the nineties I used to race 125 P and R karts in the British championships. I was stranded on the back straight at Shennington one day with engine challenges and watched at close quarters the kadet race with all these drivers and it was brilliant.
The paddock knew that there was a ‘special group’ of Ant Justin Dan etc but for me one stood out – lap after lap inch perfect and that was Jenson. I had a bet with my spanner man that he would go the distance and time proved me right.
The difference though is that these kids would do their homework and then kick a ball around the infield with mine and others kids who were all doing the same thing..
I went back to Shennington last year for the first time in many years and was staggered to see the difference- huge motorhomes, kids playing on their latest tech and rarely hanging out together as kids need to – some think its progress I do wonder though..
Thanks Joe for reminding me just how good karting is, that those four (plus others) were really talented and became rounded individuals at the highest level..
I know exactly what you mean. I used to race International Heavy in Australia in the early ’80’s. I stopped around 1985 as I was getting into road bikes etc. Last year, I went to a meeting with a friend of mine who used to race and was also a very good engine tuner.
Well, every-one poncing around in their fireproof racing gear, then, sat in the karts, pressed the started button and away they went. I haven’t bothered to go back.
I was lucky enough to attend the World Karting Titles in Parma, Italy in 1981. Spent over a week there as a pit crew. Even met a driver named Ayrton Senna da Silva who went on to greater things.
Ayrton was staying at our hotel, and I commented to him, how well he was doing in Formula Ford at the time. He was amazed that a guy from Australia knew about that. Great times🙂
Many years ago I went Karting with a (racing) mate who’s son had started racing Cadets. What astounded me at the time was to see these kids doing what 8 or 9 year olds do, hoofing a football around whilst their dad’s tried to get them onto their Karts for the race. Once the race started it was like they’d transformed into 20+year olds with plenty of racing years experience behind them! Their track positioning & racecraft was amazing. Then, 10 minutes after the race had finished, they were all playing football together again.
the other thing I find amazing is that, at the time there were grids full of these youngsters with apparently loads of potential. Why is it (and it can’t be just the money) that some of these guys made it into professional motorsport, but a large percentage of the have just faded away?
And that video is only apropos considering that the Wheldon family has decided to add the Wilson family into the annual post-INDYCAR season karting “friendly near Indianapolis at Mark Dismore’s kart circuit that the Wheldons has organised for Alzheimer’s (the disease that killed Dan’s mother), the Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am has added In Honour of Justin Wilson to its name. The Wheldon-Wilson race (an honour that goes back to the glory days of Indy racing with names such as the Joe James-Pat O’Connor Memorial, the Rex Mays 150, Ted Horn 100) features three amateurs paired in identically prepared circuit rental karts (64 kph / 40 mph maximum!) running 30-minute races each, with the final quarter featuring a star driver (usually an INDYCAR driver). Wheldon’s siblings and sponsors have raced as amateurs in this race, and are scheduled again.
Dismore also named the trophy for winning the next day’s 200-lap, 200-mile (322k) endurance karting event (can take four hours) for Wheldon, who had previously raced and won the event. NASCAR legend Ricky Rudd won the race once, and current INDYCAR driver-owner combination of Josef Newgarden (twice) and Ed Carpenter (once) individually have won the Dan Wheldon Cup. Most teams put two drivers in the event and drivers from all four rungs of the INDYCAR ladder usually participate.
There is a minimum age of 15 for the Wheldon Cup.
But it’s races such as the Wheldon-Wilson, and even karting events at Charlotte’s GoPro Motorplex that feature a rental kart format (roughly $1,350 for all three series in a year, driver only needs to pay the entry fee, circuit provides everything but the uniform and safety gear) that are still pure karting at its best. While the weekend is the same weekend as WEC in Austin, most Indy stars will run the Wheldon-Wilson.
I don’t know what the current situation is with youthful karting in the UK, but in the Netherlands we now have a 2 race series in Lelystad (where a new track has been build). The first event had 127 kids (aged between 6 and 14) present in 7 classes, which apparently is a new record in Europe. This includes the youngest son of Jan Lammers.
Not sure if there are any new Johnny Herberts (or Max Verstappens), but there are some distinctive talents showing. I will keep the starting lists, to be reread in 10-15 years and see who I can brag about having seen while they were starting in karts… In 2 weeks time the next (last) race will be run.