An all too familiar problem in Motor racing is the lack of funding for young drivers, as the rising costs of most grassroots motorsport often restricts young teens from rising up the racing ladder. However a new project setup in Manchester aims to combat the difficulties faced by young drivers.
The Blair project is an organisation founded by Nile Henry, who was sick of seeing his brother, Blair, struggle for funding to continue his Karting career.
“I originally got the idea for the Blair Project from my brother, Blair Henry, who does Go-Karting,” the project’s CEO Nile told the 24 Motorsports Blog.
“We didn’t have enough money to carry on competing. It was costing us £20,000 a year and we can’t afford that. I was tired and frustrated at seeing my brother not be able to achieve that, because his dream is to reach Formula 1.”
The project is focused on helping all young drivers to progress, and not just into single-seaters but all branches of Motorsport.
“I came up with the idea of the Blair project which will help kids like my brother who are not from financially wealthy families, to help them progress their careers in Karting so they can move on to the next level. Whether that be single-seaters or rallying, that’s where the idea came from.
Blair, 16, is a huge fan of Formula 1 and thanks to the project, will be able to continue in motorsport for at least another year.
“Blair’s first words were car, so he has always been infatuated with the sport,” said Nile.
“His favourite drivers are Lewis Hamilton and Ayrton Senna. He has signed with GW Motorsport and he’ll be competing in the X30 Karting Championship this year.”
The project is not just a backer for Blair though; the Blair Project has already taken on a second young driver, despite not even launching yet.
“We are helping a young girl called Geena Watkinson, she’s 10 years old and her father is disabled,” Nile said.
“We heard her story and we were inspired and wanted to help. We love to help Geena and we love her story.”
And the project isn’t done there. Nile has a plan to expand the backing of young drivers further to help them reach their meteoric goals.
“With Blair, Geena will be our second driver, and by the end of 2014 we hope to take on 2 more drivers, so four drivers in total this year, and another 7 in 2015.”
The Project won’t stop at funding for young drivers, Nile aims to develop the Blair Project into advising, educating and managing the drivers of tomorrow.
Despite not partaking in Motorsport himself, Nile certainly understands the problem faced by the lack of funding in grassroots Motorsport and is keen to instigate change.
“We want to change the perspective, it’s not fair that talented drivers like my brother and Geena, they can never progress their careers because of money.
“We want to make sure talented young people are making it to the big stage and we want to make sure some of the top young athletes are some of the top drivers.”
The problem faced by young driver’s isn’t going to disappear overnight, but with the help of the Blair Project, young drivers like Blair and Geena get to demonstrate their skills further, rather than being forced to give up on their dreams.
The Blair project will launch in the week leading up to the British Grand Prix between July 3-6, with a celebrity event in Manchester. You can help get involved with the Blair Project via their website, facebook, twitter