Two lucky students, Abbey-Leigh Hopkins from Year 8 and Toby Chanell from Year 10, visited the British Touring Car Championships at Rockingham courtesy of race team Ginetta and tyre manufacturer Michelin. To be in with a chance of winning the students had to write a profile explaining their interest in motorsport.
Abbey-Leigh said in her application: ‘I’ve wanted to be an F1 driver for a little while and hopefully become one of the few women to actually get into the Grand Prix and race for Mercedes Benz and England.’
Toby also wrote of his automotive ambitions: ‘In the future I would like to see myself becoming a car mechanic or engineer as I would love to have something to do with keeping cars on the road, from old vintage to modern day cars.’
Ginetta’s PR and marketing executive, Ruth Harrison visited Brooke Weston to talk about the race team, the cars and the careers available to young people in the motorsports industry. She also highlighted Ginetta’s annual Junior Scholarship competition, which is open to those aged from 14 to 17. The winning driver will race a fully funded season, worth £60,000, in the Ginetta Junior Championship. This is the foundation stage that can lead on to the Ginetta GT5 Challenge and finally the GT4 Supercup, which runs alongside the British Touring Car Championship.
The educational trip was carried out in conjunction with Michelin, who supply all of Ginetta’s race and road tyres in a bid to inspire the young engineers and drivers of the future. Ms Harrison told the students: ‘Ginetta was formed in 1958 and their ethos was to create a car that you could drive on the road, drive to a racetrack, race and then drive home.’
Afterwards she had a brief question and answer session with the students, all of whom are motorsports fans who would like a career in the industry. Mr Browne told them: ‘Hopefully we can make this an annual event. The main thing is to write about your passion for motor racing. It is good to hear you all talk about your individual ambitions. One thing I have learned is that you can fulfil your visions sooner than you realise. If Ginetta already have 14 year olds driving racing cars, that is something to aspire to.’
Afterwards Ms Harrison said: ‘Michelin are our tyre partner and they wanted to highlight the importance of good tyres as a partnership we are keen to enthuse the engineers of the future. The board of Ginetta are strong believers in engineering, being able to fabricate and fix things and work with your hands. Our cars are completely hand built by trained engineers include carbon experts and welders. It is all so hands-on.’
‘During the race day we give the students a tour of the paddock. They see the cars and get a chance to meet all of the racing drivers and support team. During qualifying they will come to the media room and hear the live commentary. Then we will go into parc ferme, which is where all the cars park up once the race has finished. They will interview the driver on pole position so it will be a chance to be a reporter for the day. They will watch the race and at the end we will ask them to do a report on their day. Michelin will upload it onto their website along with reports from all of the other schools that we have visited this year.
‘This is the perfect way to inspire people to aim that little bit higher and see where it can lead them. Motorsports is a fantastic industry as there is so much scope, not only for drivers, but for mechanics, logistics, sales people plus those who want careers in public relations and marketing.’