Martin Fullard talks karting

Before I began a career in making words appear on paper I worked in the motorsport industry, or the events industry if you prefer, it’s depends which way you look at it.

Throughout my early teens to mid-twenties I raced karts around the land, and indeed worked at kart circuits in both the UK and Middle East.

In June I was invited to reconnect with my karting roots by taking part in the Damon Hill Karting Challenge (DHKC) at Daytona Sandown Park in Surrey. I’ve not raced a kart in anger for a few years but an elephant never forgets (I’ve put on a few pounds in the intervening years).

The DHKC runs to support the Halow Project, a Surrey-based charity that aspires to create opportunities for young people with learning difficulties between ages 16 and 35. It’s a great initiative, and 1996 Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill is their patron.

Before we reach the crux of this month’s missive, here’s a quick summary of how my five-man team – HR Strategy Pro – got on in the two and a half hour race…

It was a randomly decided grid, and I took the start from ninth place. Foot to the floor I dropped to 13th entering the first corner but quickly got back to 11th. A bold move up the inside of turn four saw me 10th before I was sideswiped by an overzealous renegade at the last corner of the circuit, dropping me back to 13th once more.

No matter. I know my way around the track and set about the recovery drive. By lap three I was up to ninth, and by lap four I made a dive for sixth, passing Damon Hill himself, which is where I would run for the remainder of my stint.

At 30 minutes my team signalled me in; I completed the mandatory fuel stop and proceeded to the driver change area where I alighted and team captain Nick Butcher took the reigns. A tense final showdown saw us reeling in the kart in front but it wasn’t to be, and we crossed the line eighth out of 25.

It was a thrilling, friendly and, above all else, enjoyable experience and one that, weirdly; I was not too familiar with.

When I raced karts ‘properly’ in years gone by it was tense and stressful. Competition was fierce and skulduggery was commonplace. At the DHKC, though, it was exactly as it was supposed to be: ‘fun’.

While on track I had forgotten I was racing for charity, which kept the competitive fire burning, but once back in the pits I looked around at the young people I was helping raise money for. I can’t think of a better way to raise money for a noble cause than to do it through the medium of a sports event.

We humans are competitive by nature, and we love helping others (mostly), so a sports event should always be first choice to raise money for a cause.

If there are any event organisers out there who want to help a cause, karting would be a good place to go. Please let me know…