This month BASTF have been graced by a guest post by our very own Ambassador Manisha Tailor. It features an emerging talent “Keaton Samra“, who is pushing to become the first British Asian Formula One driver.
Learning to drive, a skill that can take several months, and for some, a number of years before they are at the stage of taking to the road as legally passed drivers. I think back at myself, 17 when I began taking lessons and perhaps the average age for most, but certainly not all as I have found someone who at the tender age of 6 started to learn this fine art. Someone who has already impressed the likes of Zip Kart, Grand Prix Racewear as well as the Sporting Director from Mercedes-Benz AMG F1 Team – Keaton Samra.
Whilst for the majority of 5 year olds, child’s play, free exploration and discovery of their surroundings would be a common interest. But, for Keaton Samra, now 11, this was when his fascination for cars began. It was through watching Formula 1 (F1) that led to his love for karting, inspired by the 2008 F1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton. “I started driving at 6 years of age and I really enjoyed it from the moment I started. I think the best part of it is the high speeds that you encounter going round corners”.
Within just 2 years Keaton embarked upon competitive racing and his achievements to date are commendable. In 2012, in his first attempt, he came 1st in the Whilton Mill Kart Club championship. This year he participated in the East Anglian Championship, which was a weekend event. Winning both the Saturday and Sunday finals he achieved the ‘East Anglian Champion’ title. Also being crowned the ‘Midlands Champion’ this year, it is to no surprise that his name is on the same trophy as racing hero’s Nigel Mansell and Jenson Button!
Earlier this year Keaton, with his father Suki Samra, appeared on Brit Asia TV show, Real Talk Sport, hosted by Apache Indian. His goal for this year was to secure a seeding of 10th in the UK, which through hard work, dedication and commitment he has been able to do. Currently, Keaton is officially seeded 10th in the UK in the Honda Cadet Class. A real credit to himself and his family.
Suki speaks of the importance of parental support within the sport in ensuring Keaton is in the best possible position to fulfil his dreams. “Parental support is paramount due to the level of sacrifice and commitment it takes. We are effectively out 2-3 weekends per month and as part of the British Championship where we also have to travel all over the UK”. He goes on to say, “We would not change a single moment and quite frankly we get bored when we are not racing, especially Roman, Keaton’s 5 year old brother who adores his brother and wants to also race!”
Keaton’s school work is equally held with high regard and both the school and family have found strategies to balance education with sport, illustrating that both can have a significant role in a child’s development. Suki explains, “School work is completed on the day that Keaton receives it in order to stay on top of it. Since Keaton started karting, his school work has improved significantly and he is in the the top group for all classes with maths and science being his favourite”.
In addition, Keaton created a training programme with the help of his father which involves: training in the gym 3 times a week, stretches, push-ups and sit-ups every morning when he wakes up prior to school. As a result, Keaton is one of the fittest drivers in his class and does not break a sweat or be out of breath when other drivers are breathing heavily and red-faced after a race!For those budding drivers wanting to get into the sport, this is what Suki advises, “Just make sure that you can afford it and be prepared to sacrifice your weekends. Speak to professionals and reputable teams to ensure that you are not ‘ripped off’. Ultimately, be prepared for the ups and downs. Enjoy it as it can very easily become serious”.Unfortunately karting is an extremely expensive sport and requires substantial funds. Currently Keaton is soley funded by his parents and grandparents and the costs are barely being met. Keaton is desperate for sponsorship for him to be able to sustain his passion and love for driving. “I want to be a Formula One driver and my role model is Lewis Hamilton. I’d like to be like him”. At only 11, Keaton’s CV has so far impressed and turned the heads of a lot of high-ranking people in motorsport. As a community I urge businesses and other organisations to support Keaton’s dream. Without the funds and sponsors, sadly this may not be possible. Be part of his journey in becoming the first ever British Asian Formula One driver.
To know more about Keaton’s racing journey, or to contact his father, Suki Samra, please visit: http://www.team-samra-racing.com/