There are no combination of words that would describe the selfless commitment of a family determined to provide the very best opportunity to their son in fulfilling his dream.
To be inspired by Keaton and humbled by the Samra family would be understatements and to witness his talent was a privilege.
Our exciting meeting led us to Buckmore Park in Kent, probably the most difficult go karting circuit in the UK. Upon our arrival we were warmly met by Suki, Keaton’s father, who kindly showed us around the circuit and the areas that the normal public don’t get to see. The place was a hive of activity with various team awnings lined up behind the circuit. Sponsors, mechanics and concerned parents were hard at work tuning, fine tuning and repairing their karts, whilst the drivers analysed data and deliberated their racing lines for the next heat.
Suki, led us to his new mobile home, an investment decision to eradicate expensive hotel costs and keep the family together during race season; and where we met Keaton’s mum Aman, Keaton and his younger brother. Within this organised but confined accommodation it was not difficult to see the level of commitment and determination the family had in nurturing Keaton’s natural talent – and they all appeared on a high from Keaton’s previous night’s success at becoming the 2014 Best Young Achiever at the British Indian Awards in Birmingham.
While Keaton prepared for his next qualifying race, the BASTF team took a stroll with Suki to get a general picture of life in the SAMRA world. Suki’s passion and steel is clearly evident and from the inset you know this family unit means business, with every minute detail put under the microscope. As the conversation continued it became glaringly obvious the huge financial and emotional commitment that is required to become the very best – the missed family weddings, no social life, a normal childhood and as Suki puts it, “a Sunday off could mean us just staying in our PJ’s all day!”.
Alongside the gruelling racing schedule, Keaton maintains a strict and disciplined work ethic – early morning fitness sessions keep his body in top condition preparing him aptly for the physical demands of racing. This disciplined lifestyle with the huge support from the unsung hero – HIS MUM – has had a positive knock on effect on his school work ensuring Keaton continues to achieve in his school subjects to the very highest standards.
When race time arrives we all make our way to the grand stand to watch Keaton race. As the race begins, the passion and anxiety can be seen on the family’s faces – they live and breathe racing and their anticipation quickly transfers to the BASTF team. Suki’s focus is on Keaton’s race lines and his conversation becomes interrupted by cries of euphoria at the shear skill of his driving. Keaton drives a magnificent race, his dexterity and natural ability to be one with his kart more than evident and a cut above the competition. He weaved in and out, carefully choosing his strategy to overtake the karts in front of him – a maturity and racing brain beyond his years. During the Final lap Keaton looked in great position to win the race until he was clipped from behind and his kart spun out of control. However, his steely resolve and competitive nature got him back on track and he miraculously managed to make up his lost position in a relatively small amount of time. Although visibly upset after the race, Keaton was even more determined to improve in the next race – That’s passion and definitely something you can’t teach!
The SAMRA family are a rare breed of Asians in terms of their commitment and dedication to help their son achieve the very top level in sport – a possibility we can now foresee. It’s only when you experience firsthand the sacrifice and hard work of this family unit that you realise just what it takes to turn a dream into reality. Keaton has all the attributes and characteristics one needs to succeed; he is humble, respectful, mature beyond his years and has a steely determination that you only see in the very elite sportsman. It was a real pleasure for the BASTF team to meet the SAMRA family and we hope to continue being part of Keaton’s flourishing career.
In case you were wondering, here is how things shaped that weekend in Buckmore Park for Keaton:
Heat 2-started 9th finished 2nd – carved through traffic in early laps to get up to 2nd and then pushed the driver in front and himself clear of the pack to finish 2nd
Sunday – Pre final- started 6th got up to 4th in the first two corners then due to an incident there was a red flag, race was re started back from original grid positions. Keaton again got through traffic to push the driver infront and himself clear of the pack. 15 min race 4 mins to go the driver starts defending and bringing the whole pack into contention. Keaton nerves of steel lost 2 positions, got one back to finish 3rd in a pack of 10 plus drivers all going for the win. This race aged me by 10 years, only to be told by Keaton that he had everything under control.
Sundays grand final – Started 3rd – him and his team mate and another drive on the same Zip Kart chassis pushed away for 15 mins and won the race 5 secs clear with Keaton coming in 3rd.
This has resulted in Keaton gaining a huge haul of points which sees him sitting 6th in the British championship table, previously was sitting 12th due to bad luck in the first round.