A school away from school

Formula Kart Star bus helps young karters keep up to date with schoolwork at the races

Formula Kart Stars (FKS) continues to lead the way in supporting the off-track development of its competitors and recognising their education for its vital importance,” wrote Bernie Ecclestone in the foreword to the FKS Official Series Guide last year. “The days of drivers arriving in Formula 1
on the back of driving talent alone are gone; teams now want racers who are bright, articulate, technically minded and well-rounded, as well as quick.”

He went on to say that the current FKS ranks may well have a future Formula 1 world champion in them; and for those that didn’t make it to F1, the educational support was even more important.

Formula One Management backed the championship in 2011 alongside Lewis Hamilton and his father Anthony. The British-based series has actually been around for a while and morphed out of the McLaren-Mercedes Champions of the Future which was set up by Ron Dennis, Norbert Haug and the late Martin Hines.

Many racers don’t make the most of educational opportunities because they are focused on success in motor sport; Mark Blundell tells Simon Taylor all about his schooling sacrifice on page 84. Ecclestone is right that school shouldn’t be thrown aside once the motor sport bug takes its hold. But how do you actually keep up with homework when you’ve got tyre choice and set-up to worry about?

Well, the first choice for FKS contenders last year was the ‘school bus’. “Bernie and Lewis both emphasised the education aspect of racing when they came on board as patrons,” the series commentator Henry Beaudette says. “Our recent Clerk of the Course Mark Marsh is a college tutor at Boston College [in Lincolnshire] and we have been given access to the bus through him.”

It really is a bus, but it is equipped with audio and visual learning aids, an outdoor presentation area, computers and everything else karters may need to catch up on school work. Marsh is there throughout the race meetings to help pupils. “Drivers can book one-on-one tutorials or simply drop by to do their own studies,” Beaudette says. “If the driver’s school wish to they can email the appropriate curriculum to the championship so we can ensure their students carry on with the work they would have done in school had they not been away karting.

“This year Boston College is actually providing FKS with a number of their students who will shadow the FKS officials throughout the year and hopefully they’ll learn some new skills in terms of scrutineering, clerking, officiating and media work.”

Let’s be frank. Only a very small percentage of kart racers will ever make money from motor racing. There were roughly 30,000 licence holders in Britain last year and only a tiny number were actually paid to race. When you think about the sport in that perspective, it seems ridiculous there aren’t more
initiatives like the FKS school bus.

Ed Foster