When you look at the lives of young champions in any sport, there's a common requirement: supportive parents. Without the full backing and enthusiasm of a parent as mentor and banker, their task becomes almost impossible.
Parents' support vital for racing
I am privileged to know many of the talented young racing drivers in the UAE, some of whom I believe will go on to have great careers as professional racing drivers. For them, this is no pipe dream, and they fully expect to put in an enormous amount of hard work to get there. But when you look at the lives of young champions in any sport, there's a common requirement: supportive parents. Without the full backing and enthusiasm of a parent as mentor and banker, their task becomes almost impossible.
There's a fascinating list of 2010 motor racing champions at here. If you look at the nationalities of these 337 successful drivers, you will see they are from all around the world, including two from Bahrain and one from Saudi Arabia. Of these three, the youngest is 19-year-old Menasheh Idafar, who won the National Class of British F3 this year and is based in Bahrain. Congrats Menasheh and to your father, Salman.
When we launched Formula Gulf 1000 in April we received, and continue to receive, a huge amount of support at all levels for this initiative. It is aimed at offering ambitious young racing drivers in the region the opportunity to train and race in the same type of Formula car they will have to master should they move up the ladder towards a professional racing career. Think of it as a two-year apprenticeship. You would expect that a Junior Formula series like this, after seven years of Formula One in the region, would be oversubscribed. As it happens, there are plenty of qualified young drivers who have already displayed their talents and commitment in the field of karting and, in some cases, in the Radical sportscars that we have been overseeing for the last five years.
But there's a problem. The parents - or more accurately, education. In many cases, although thankfully not all, parents just do not know enough about motor racing to understand what an exciting and demanding sport it is and how it can lead onto a rewarding professional career for their offspring. Having been through this journey myself with my son and his friends, we have seen how motorsport opens up a plethora of opportunities to the most committed and hard-working of its graduates. Some get to the very top of the ladder, some get paid well to race for manufacturers and teams, and some adopt a race engineering career to manage the teams and cars that the champion drivers rely on. There is more to working in motorsport than just being the man or woman in the cockpit.
The high-performance engineering industry requires a lot of clever people to develop race-winning technology - something that is under continual improvement.
The next step after Formula Gulf 1000 is likely to be Formula Renault BARC, which is a UK-based, one-make single-seater category contested over 12 rounds with six double-headers. New for 2011, the last two races join the TOCA package at Silverstone circuit. And I fully expect a UAE driver to win it sometime, but it will take not only their hard work, but also dedication from their families.
Barry Hope is a director of GulfSport Racing, which is seeking the first Arab F1 driver through the FG1000 race series. Join the UAE racing community online at www.singleseaterblog.com