Racing driver Robin Webster spoke to students about the opportunities to try out motorsport locally and the range of jobs on offer within the industry.
Mr Webster, from Go Motorsport brought along racing artefacts, including his fireproof suit and crash helmet, gave a 50-minute talk and answered questions from Year 10 mechanics and Year 11 engineering students. He spoke of how local youngsters have got into racing and karting, and the opportunity to try both at Northampton Indoor Karting Centre and Whilton Mill near Towcester.
Mr Webster first got into racing at 13 years old when he raised cash by cleaning cars at 50p a time! Over the summer holiday he earned £150, enough to buy a second-hand kart. At 17 he progressed to motorbikes and now races cars, works as an instructor and generates interest in motorsport with the Motorsport Association.
Youngsters can get involved in motorsport from the age of eight when they can try kart racing or junior drag racing. Aged from 14 onwards they are eligible for a further six disciplines including Sax Max Racing, rally-cross and production car trials. Formula Ford starts at 16+ where racers using a 1600cc Ford engine can reach speeds of 140mph. Mr Webster also spoke of drag racing where 3000bhp engines can go from 0 to 325mph in just 3.75 seconds, generating a force of 5G!
In the triangle located between Northampton, Banbury and Reading there are 4,500 companies employing people in motorsport, equating to 50,000 full and part time jobs, that can include anything from marshalling and catering at trackside to designing and testing the latest engines. Potential careers include hospitality, PR and marketing, accountancy, logistics, medical and human resources with Formula 1 teams typically taking 60 employees to every race, accompanied by 25 tons of spare parts!
Mr Webster told the students: ‘Motorsport will die if you, as the next generation, don’t think “that’s a good thing for me to get involved in”. You may think “I am going to enjoy watching it more on the television” or go to Rockingham to watch it for real. You may want to become a marshal, a competitor or ultimately find a career in motorsport; there are many options available for every level of interest and skill.’