Bowyer gets seal of approval from F1 champ Hamilton
25.02.2009: Young Peterborough karting sensation Callum Bowyer has come face-to-face again with fellow motor racing champion Lewis Hamilton as he prepares to begin the defence of his hard-fought titles in 2009 – and he hopes the reunion will inspire him to even great
Young Peterborough karting sensation Callum Bowyer has come face-to-face again with fellow motor racing champion Lewis Hamilton as he prepares to begin the defence of his hard-fought titles in 2009 – and he hopes the reunion will inspire him to even greater glory over the forthcoming campaign.
As a result of his outstanding success last year in lifting the laurels in national series’ BRDC Stars of Tomorrow and Super 1, as well as in the prestigious one-off ‘0’ Plate meeting, Callum was invited to the glitzy Autosport Awards back in December, where he met McLaren-Mercedes star Hamilton for the first time.
As Stars’ launched its 2009 season off the starting grid at PF International in Lincolnshire, a special visit from F1’s youngest-ever title-winner gave the Gunthorpe teenager the chance to renew that acquaintance. It was, he confessed, quite a moment.
“When we met him for the first time at the awards I thought he was a really nice guy,” he reflected. “He seemed really interested in what I was doing and what I had been up to, and he recognised us all again at PF – it was brilliant to be recognised by such a superstar!
“I knew we would see him, but I didn’t expect him to have as much time for everyone as he did. He spent a lot of time chatting to each driver and made everyone feel totally relaxed. I think the whole experience brought a lot of memories back for him too from when he used to race karts.
“He came into the awning and was able to see what it’s all about. He asked me about my kart and I explained to him that it had just come over from Italy as it’s a new 2009 model – he was actually one of the first people to see it!
“I asked him to sign the kart and my race suit, and he wrote ‘All the best from the World Champion to the British Champion – both number 1’. I’m going to keep everything he signed forever! The signed kart is too good to be damaged, so as soon as we get another one that one will be hung up somewhere – it’s not every day you get to meet Lewis Hamilton, is it?”
Indeed it isn’t, and what’s more there are certain parallels between the two in that they both achieved their successes on the way up despite struggling for funding and therefore testing time in comparison with many of their rivals, and triumphed by dint of sheer hard work, commitment and dedication. Not forgetting, of course, tremendous raw talent.
Even bigger news on the day, however, was that Stars – the same series that first set Hamilton on the fast track to future Formula 1 glory – is to be re-named as of this season as Formula Kart Stars (FKS), having received the endorsement of no less a man than F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. Better yet, the championship will receive official television coverage and from 2010 onwards there is the possibility that it will join the support bill for European and international grands prix, what Callum recognises is a huge opportunity.
“That put the icing on the cake really,” the Ken Stimpson School pupil enthused. “Now the championship is going to be televised from next year, it’s just going to get bigger and better. Having Bernie Ecclestone backing it is amazing, and with him and Lewis behind it, FKS is hopefully going to be recognised a lot more all over the world.
“It would be a brilliant experience to race alongside F1. You can’t get that anywhere else, can you? Being there with all the biggest names in international motorsport would provide amazing opportunities to get noticed and get sponsorship. I’ve never really raced abroad before because financially it just hasn’t been possible for us.”
What the JKH ace has accomplished on a shoe-string budget, though, has been quite remarkable, but there is no let-up as he endeavours to repeat his success in 2009, with the final round of the KF3 Winter Series at Shenington and the FKS and Super 1 curtain-raisers all looming rapidly into view. It may be a stern challenge, but it is one that Callum is relishing.
“We’re going to be flat-out!” he acknowledged. “It would have been great to win the winter series, but we unfortunately had to miss a round, which obviously is an instant disadvantage. The main focus has just been to get all of the teething problems out of the way before Super 1 and FKS, though.
“Over the last couple of meetings it’s all come together and we’ve been up there and knocking on the door a lot more. There are about five drivers who could win I would say, but we’ve definitely got the pace and the kart underneath us, and I think with a bit of luck on our side we can pull it off again.”
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