Support through Sport UK spoke to Charlotte Eyre about her karting career to date ...
Hi Charlotte. When did you start karting and what inspired you to take it up?
I started karting at nine years old by going to circuits where you could rent karts for hour-long sessions. Then, at 13, I started racing rental karts. It was whilst racing at a circuit in Tamworth, near where I lived at the time, that I got spotted by the Circuit Manager. He owned a karting team that used four stroke engines (called Pro Karts). I tested a four stroke engine kart - but I also tested a two stroke engine kart. And that’s where it all started for me really. As soon as I tested the two stroke, called a Rotax, I realised that that was the engine for me and it’s what I’ve stuck with ever since.
My inspiration whilst growing up came from watching old YouTube videos of Lewis Hamilton and Susie Wolff karting (as well as a lot of other racers that I look up to within the British Touring Cars Championship (BTCC) package).
Is it a hard sport to get into? If somebody wanted to have a go, what should their first steps be?
It can be a hard sport to be involved in if you own your own kart as you have to be able to fund your own racing and get your kart and equipment to the various circuits. Racing rentals, however, is far easier as you just turn up and race. I did find that a lot of the time the karts were very uneven though! So if you want to take up karting but don’t want to have to buy your own kart, I highly recommend getting yourself to a large circuit, trying it out and then looking out for rental kart championships. The rental karts are heavy but can be good fun!
How is it being a female in what’s often still seen a man’s sport (despite the success of drivers such as Louise Aitken-Walker and Susie Wolff)?
It can be hard as you get labelled as being slow or ‘driving like a woman’. When I switched karts and championships in the 2015 season, I went to a circuit where they respected me more, both on and off the track. In earlier championships, I wasn’t respected and was taken off the track by fellow racers. For years, I have been the only female on my grid - or one of only two females. It’s hard and, despite female role models such as Susie Wolff, some people still don’t take female racers seriously.
Going forwards, what are your karting goals?
During the 2016 season, I would like to gain my Motor Sports Association (MSA) licence and compete at a couple of national-level race meets. An MSA licence means I can race in championships such as the British Super One Championships and other MSA-approved championships at circuits such as Hooton Park, Cheshire. That’s this year’s goal. Looking ahead even further, I want to do a complete season in an MSA national series and compete at a much higher standard.
Would you encourage other girls to give karting a go? What would you say are the benefits?
I would definitely encourage other girls to give karting a go.
In 2015, I became an Us Girls Motorsport Ambassador. I was also featured on a This Girl Can poster. By being part of these initiatives, I want to inspire other girls to get into sport.
In addition, I’ve partnered up with The Blair Project, an organisation that supports and encourages girls to take up motorsport. Together, we’ve set up ‘Girls in Motorsport’ at Hooton Park, the UK’s biggest initiative to get girls karting. We’ve selected ten lucky girls between the ages of 14 and 16 to be part of an extensive training programme before entering into an MSA championship.