The British Schools Karting Championship is an arrive-and-drive team-based UK-wide karting championship for school and college students aged 13 to 18.
It was setup by Will Tew and Tom Batho in 2003 after they graduated from university at Imperial College, London.
The BSKC has now been handed over to the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) based at Thruxton Race Circuit, Hampshire. The BARC organise some of the UK's most iconic motor sport championships including the British Touring Car Championship and bring a wealth of experience to bring the BSKC to even more young people.
Why was the BSKC created?
The BSKC was setup to make motor sport accessible - to everyone. We firmly believe in the huge power of motor sport to thrill and inspire and see no reason why it should not be part of the curriculum at school (especially in this country - the heart of worldwide motor sport).
However, when Will & Tom were teenagers there was simply no way to get into karting without spending thousands of pounds to purchase, maintain and transport a kart up and down the country, let alone paying for the entry fees, hotel bills, petrol etc. The British Schools Karting Championship was set up to change all this.
The whole premise of the British Schools Karting Championship is accessibility. It is an arrive-and-drive karting championship that makes great use of the many fantastic karting facilities from all across the UK. All karts, race suits, helmets etc are provided so that no one need buy a kart to compete. Rather than spending thousands purchasing a kart to get into karting, a student can take part in the awesome British Schools Karting Championship with their team mates for just £60 per driver.
It means that anyone, regardless of ability or background, can take part in competitive team-based motor sport whilst representing their school or college at the same time.
We wish had that opportunity when we were at school so, for us, it is awesome to see thousands of teenagers enjoy the amazing thrill of team-based motorsport that we enjoyed so much when we were racing for our university in our days of a being a student.
We also thoroughly believe that motor sport is the most engaging sport possible. It is something special that inspires and engages those who have had the chance to participate and it often rubs off in so many areas. We believe:
- that it is hugely inspiring to participate in motor sport
- that it is the only sport that combines sport, engineering and business in such a tight and compelling package
- that there are so many aspects to motor sport that can be used for the purpose of education. Please see our curriculum materials
- that motor sport develops a range of skills that are directly transferrable to driving on the roads, such as spatial awareness, looking ahead and anticipation.
- that people are safer road drivers when they have a feel for how vehicles handle on the limit in the context of emergency situations.
- that motor sport can be used as a message: to keep racing to the race track and not on the roads.
The history of the BUKC, BSKC and 3T Racing
It was back in 2001 that the founders of the BSKC - Will Tew and Tom Batho - were studying at Imperial College London that they became friends through the Imperial College Motor Club. The club owned several high performance 2-stroke racing karts (for those interested we had a 100B, 2 x TKMS and 2 x Rotax Max karts) which are simply the most amazing adrenalin inducing machines either of us had ever witnessed.
At the time there was also an inter university karting championship (the IUKC) but it didn't use the same type of karts that we were so lucky to enjoy at Imperial - we were spoilt really.
Will wanted to race 2-stroke karts but didn't have the money to buy one. Fortunately he stumbled across Club100 - a company dedicated to high performance 2-stroke arrive-and-drive racing. Yes! Arrive-and-drive 2-stroke kart racing!
After a few races Will and Tom got in touch with the MD of Club100 with a view to setting up a championship for university students using the Club100 karts. And so the 2-stroke British Universities Karting Championship was born and we continue to organise it today.
In mid 2003, when we were about to graduate we had a strong feeling that the BUKC would be at risk of falling into the murky hands of student politics and disputes if were to hand over the organisation of the championship over to an ever changing wannabe organising committee. The championship needed stability so we set up 3T Racing as a private limited company in November 2003 to continue running the championship.
Since then the championship has more than doubled in size and attracts ex British and international karting champions, Formula Renault, Formula 3, Formula 2 and even the occasional F1 test driver as well as complete novices.
Whilst we were still at university and having set up the BUKC, we realised that we had loads of ideas on how to make karting better and more accessible. One of those ideas that quickly popped up was the idea of doing the same thing as the BUKC but for schools and colleges. We would have loved to have had the chance to race for our schools when we were a few years younger, so with our new tiny little company (which made no money) we decided that at some point we would try and set up the "British Schools Karting Championship".
In January 2004, Will started working full time with UBS Investment Bank after having done a few internships with them over the summer months during university. It was a temporary necessity. Tom started working with Lola engineering working on their A1GP car. Neither of us at that point had any plans for our temporary career choices to last more than a few years - hopefully by then we would have raised some money to launch the BSKC and our other karting related ideas.
As it turned out we managed to raise some money to launch the BSKC for January 2005. The plan was for it to tag on to the back of the BUKC using Club100's karts. It didn't work - our marketing was rubbish, we had little idea how marketing is a billion times more difficult than sending out one email to all the schools in the country and one tiny (and expensive) advert in the Times Educational Supplement.
The following year we tried the same but this time our marketing was much better. We sent the first ever BSKC information pack to schools all over the country. By Christmas time we had 100 schools signed up. Whoohoo. Sadly absolutely none of them - zero percent - converted into actual paying entries. The idea of 2-stroke outdoor karting was simply too expensive for school students who, on the whole, rely on the school and / or their parents for funding.
By January 2006, when the BSKC had failed to get off the ground for the second year running, Will decided that it was time to either leave UBS or stop trying to set up the BSKC; it was impossible to do both any longer. So Will left the investment bank in April 2006 and started getting things ready for the BSKC 2007.
This time however the BSKC would be taken indoors - to simple arrive-and-drive 4-stroke karting centers. It would be much cheaper and therefore much more accessible. He should have done this back in 2004!
To get a sense for how successful the BSKC might be it was decided that the championship would be launched in just the London area and take place entirely at Streatham Kart Raceway. The founder of Streatham Kart Raceway is a chap called Martin Howell. Together with Bob Pope - the owner of Teeside Autodrome - they came up with the idea of arrive-and-drive karting in the 1980's!
So the BSKC 2007 finally got off the ground! 22 teams took part (yes it was small) but 22 teams still took part!
The following year we expanded the BSKC to 9 circuits across the country and 228 teams (684 drivers) took part. That was more than the BUKC already.
Since the BSKC 2008 the championship has nearly trippled in size again. The 2012 championship was contested by 617 teams compete (1851 drivers) across 52 circuits.
We were also delighted that in the summer of 2009 we were able to successfully apply for funding from Sport England with the help of the Motor Sports Association (MSA) and the Central Council for Physical Recreation (CCPR). The funding helped us to increase the marketing resource and offer a bursary to students from more difficult economic backgrounds.
Yes, it has been a mission to get the BSKC off the ground and developed to the stage that it is at now. However there is so much more to do, so much more potential for championship to inspire, engage and provide fantastic opportunities for hundreds of thousands of young people in the future.
So, welcome to the British Schools Karting Championship!
We hope you enjoy it, and the best of luck to you!