Supporting motor sport in Denmark


I am just back from the land of bacon, beer, bicycles and blondes. And a much-missed motor racing circuit called Roskilde, the scene of many a great race back in the last century.

Sadly, nothing remains of Roskilde, but the motor sport scene in Denmark is very much alive and well. This is thanks to a hard-working organisation called DASU, the Danish Auto Sports Union, whose hugely energetic and enthusiastic President, Carl Christian Hansen, served his apprenticeship as a reporter for Motoring News back in the great days of Roskilde.

There is also the Tom Kristensen factor. Tom is, unsurprisingly,  a hero in Denmark and one of the country’s most revered sportsmen. Having returned home from tax exile in Monte Carlo, he now lives with his family in the north of Jutland. Inspired by his extraordinary success in sports cars, an increasing number of Danish youngsters have taken up kart racing.

As in so much of Europe, it is football that grabs the lion’s share of the money and the media, but DASU is using its limited funds to support talented kart racers in the hope of discovering a new Jan Magnussen and helping him on his way to the Grand Prix grid. There are high hopes for Jan’s son Kevin who beganin karting and is now making a name for himself in both Europe and North America.

Both Carl Christian Hansen and DASU’s Sports Director Bo Nielsen distribute funds and support from an impressive government-funded “House of Sports” just a few kilometres from Copenhagen. Dominated by the national football stadium, the building houses all of Denmark’s sports unions, the motor sport floor full of trophies including seven of the eight won by Tom Kristensen at Le Mans. Pictures of ‘Great Danes’ adorn the walls, reminding us of John Nielsen, Kurt Thiim, Tom Belso, Jac Nelleman, Kris Nissen, and Thorkild Thyrring who was known by his British mechanics as ‘Talking Thyrring’, owing to his outgoing nature. Unusual for a Dane.

Here we also find the name of the man who could, and should, have been the first black driver in Grand Prix racing. Jason Watt, Jamaican Father and Danish Mother, was seen as the country’s finest hope for future stardom. A winner in International Formula 3000 he seemed to be destined for a chance in Formula 1 until a motorcycle accident left him paralysed. The full story, and my interview with Jason, will appear in Motor Sport later this year.

The passage of time often brings a new slant to an old story and, looking at photographs of Jan Magnussen in his days with the Stewart F1 team, we are reminded that Denmark has a population of a little less than six million souls. There are, incidentally, four times that number of pigs, the export of bacon being a key element of the country’s economy. It is therefore remarkable that so many Danes have risen to varying levels of fame on the racing circuits of the world.

If Messrs Hansen and Nielsen have their way, it won’t be long before a young karter emerges from the Land of Lego and begins to lay the first bricks along the road to a glittering career. Tom Kristensen, or TK as they call him, has shown them the way.

For more from Rob Widdows, click here.

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