Thursday, 24 February 2011


The Johannesburg suburbs, May 1983. It's Sunday afternoon, and the Monaco Grand Prix is on TV. The cultured tones of James Hunt alternate with the hyperactive squeakings of Murray Walker.

My Dad and I watch from the sofa. I'm transfixed by the sight of the cars threading their way between the barriers at impossible speed.

Me: Do they have automatic gearboxes, Daddy?
My Dad: No, they have to change gear themselves.
Me: But how do they do that?
My Dad: I don't know... they're very good drivers. Best in the world.
Me: Are they going as fast as they can, all the time?
My Dad (nodding): Flat out.
Me: Wow...

And so it began. A lifelong passion for motorsport in general and Formula One in particular. But it wasn't until 1993, at the ripe old age of 19, that I got to try it for myself - at an outdoor kart track in Spain. A lack of opportunity and finance limited me to the odd excursion until Daytona Motorsport opened a gigantic new circuit ten minutes from my front door, and changed my life.

With a fleet of 40 karts they offered a range of 'arrive and drive' options: practice sessions, individual races, team races... for a budding racer with minimal funds and even less talent with a spanner, it was manna from heaven. I drove my first race on 14 September 1998 - a 40 minute sprint event at Daytona Milton Keynes. I finished it 14th out of 25; bruised, battered, and utterly addicted. I've never looked back...

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