x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Pole position: A life change for the better

Running a family motorsport business has many benefits.

There's something quite special about an activity that is so compelling it permeates a family to the extent that everyone shares a common interest and a set of ambitions that exist outside of the normal framework of family life.

When I was old enough to have gained the necessary knowledge and experience, we developed our family hobby into a business, generating a rewarding albeit challenging career for my sons and daughter, all of whom now work in motorsport.

I had spent many years working for a couple of very large enterprises where I was just a small cog in a giant wheel that was run for the benefit of faceless shareholders who, for sure, did not have my best interests at heart. Their relentless pursuit of profit and growth created some very poor business dynamics and so important lessons were learnt that became quite useful when it came to running a successful family business.

But there was a further major benefit. We are now working with some of the finest young people you could possibly wish to meet. They have racing ambitions, goals and emotions that we well understand as we have already lived their journey. So it is a real pleasure to put together an environment that will ensure they get the very best advice and guidance they deserve.

Formula Gulf 1000 may be only six races old, yet already its reputation as the go-to place for ambitious young drivers is spreading fast. This is based on the credibility and professionalism of all the people involved. By this I mean the engineers, mechanics, driver coach and the hundreds of circuit officials, marshals and medical staff that all play their part.

What started out as a club-based junior race series quickly turned into an international event with young drivers from Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Lebanon, Syria and, of course, the UAE. Although motor racing has been in existence for six years in the Emirates, it has largely been targeted at wealthy businessmen, so you inevitably get a few drivers whose self-importance is greater than their talent.

It is such a joy to work with young drivers who haven't forgotten the art of listening, who are extremely modest and who value the opportunity their parents and sponsors have given them. What's more, they arrive with their friends and family and race day turns into a brilliant social/sporting event.

One of our Emirati drivers, Haytham Sultan Al Ali, hails from Umm Al Qaiwain so we were surprised and delighted when our team was invited by a senior UAQ government official to be guests at their National Day celebrations. He said they also wanted us "to demonstrate the Formula car during the street festival".

I believe the interest shown in a local driver from UAQ is an indication of what can be achieved if we manage to encourage a few more Emirati families to allow their youngsters to participate in karting and motor racing. Drivers Haytham Sultan Al Ali, Mohamed Al Mutawaa and Mohamed Al Dhaheri would make excellent role models.


Barry Hope is a director of GulfSport Racing, which is hoping to find an Arab F1 driver through the FG1000 race series. Join the UAE racing community online at www.gulf-sport.com or on Facebook at GulfSportRacing.