David Brabham has long been regarded as one of motorsport’s leading sportscar drivers but the Le Mans 24 Hours winner and American Le Mans Series Champion is also an established driving force in developing the next generation of racing stars.
During his recent action-packed visit to Autosport International, Brabham was announced as the National Race Coach for the new MSA Team UK driver education and development scheme, which forms the pinnacle of the MSA Academy structure created in 2009.
The MSA Academy is designed to guide young drivers from eight years old through to world championship level, while the new Team UK designation reflects the creation of a national squad of the country’s most promising drivers, aged 17-24, from the previous Elite Race and Rally schemes.
Through his Brabham Performance Clinic company, Brabham will help equip drivers with the race preparation and on-track skills to perform at the highest level, while delivering individual fitness programs, dietary consultations and the application of advanced sports psychology.
As well as taking the opportunity to celebrate his outstanding 2009 racing achievements with his British fans at Autosport International, the sportscar legend gave 20 young karters and their parents his top tips for success in a free Karting Workshop on Saturday.
With an extensive racing career spanning from karting, British Formula 3 to Formula One, F3000, touring cars, GT and sports prototype racing, Brabham relayed his pearls of wisdom in the session which aimed to help karters aged 12-17 to develop the mental attitude for success.
Max Coates, aged 16 from Scorton, North Yorkshire, who moves from the Junior Max karting category to the Ginetta Junior series in 2010, attended the special session and commented, “Thank you very much, I really enjoyed the course and got a lot from it. I am going to put some of David’s principles to the test and hopefully use them to my benefit.”
Henry Fletcher, from Eastleigh in Hampshire, started his first full season karting in the Junior Max class in 2008, racing at Dorset kart circuits, Forest Edge and Clay Pigeon. Henry attended the Karting Workshop during what was his first ever visit to Autosport International and found the session invaluable.
Henry’s mum Emma found the topics discussed equally inspiring and commented, “David’s session gave a really good overview of all of the skills that are required, not only in helping aspiring drivers progress through the sport, but in life itself. Although the workshop was for young karters, I think parents and children took something away from this session. Particularly relevant for me was the importance of setting achievable targets and applying a positive mental attitude.
Brabham was delighted at the response to the second ever Karting Workshop held in partnership with the Karting Show at Autosport International. He commented: “I’m over the moon with how well the Karting Workshop was received by all who attended. We had a full house and I was able to keep young minds focused for nearly 90 minutes.
“When we hold these special sessions, we also invite drivers’ parents to attend, as the things I’m teaching are relevant to them as well. That showed in the Q&A afterwards where I answered quite a few questions from parents on topics not just relating to their child but to themselves as well. It was terrific to get such positive feedback from all who attended and it was rewarding to share such an interactive session from which I think both the children and the parents benefitted.”
With a constant keen eye on the future stars of motorsport, Brabham followed his Autosport International duties with a special visit to meet the first intake of candidates for the MSA-backed Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) in motorsport.
Designed to develop the broad range of competences required in elite sport, AASE will help drivers (aged 16-24) develop a mix of transferable skills and qualifications, aiding their progress as a competitor and encouraging the pursuit of further/higher education and/or employment.
Held at the Porsche Human Performance Centre at Silverstone, the chance to glean expert advice from one of the world’s best sportscar drivers didn’t go unmissed by the gathered drivers who one day hope to progress to the Team UK scheme.
“Now with the MSA’s new program structure, with Team UK at the pinnacle and the Academy underneath, I wanted to take the chance to meet the first intake of AASE candidates at Silverstone and see how the scheme is working for them,” said Brabham.
“A lot of those young people will be hoping to become a member of Team UK in the future and it’s important for us to know who is coming through the ranks. This is an area that the MSA wants us to focus on, in terms of searching for potential drivers. The AASE drivers will get a fantastic understanding of what is required before they get to that level, making our jobs a lot easier in helping them move forward.”
After helping scores of young drivers to realize their racing dreams over the past week, it’s now time for Brabham to return to his own driving duties and look forward to the exciting season ahead defending his ALMS crown with Patr¢n Highcroft Racing.
“It was fantastic to play such an active role at Autosport International but now I’m heading back to the States and my Highcroft duties. Planning for the 2010 season is well underway - I’ll be having my seat fitting with my two teammates Simon [Pagenaud] and Marino [Franchitti] and then it’s on to begin our pre-season testing campaign. I can’t wait.”
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