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Short circuit to success

YOUNG PRETENDER: Hamilton began karting aged eight

PRIOR TO hurtling around a Grand Prix track at speeds approaching 200mph, Lewis Hamilton cut his teeth in the world of karting.

Hamilton, the youngest ever driver to secure a Formula One deal, began his motorsports career karting in 1993 at the age of eight, and he very quickly (he does it all very quickly!) began winning races and championships.

He progressed through the Cadet (1993-6), Junior Yamaha (1997), Junior Intercontinental A (1998-9), Intercontinental A (1999), Formula A (2000) and Formula Super A (2001) ranks in seven seasons, becoming European Champion in 2000 with maximum points. His time as a Zip Kart Young Gun gave him the racing experience he needed to win!

His introduction to karting began at his local club, the Rye House Kart Raceway. It is one of the oldest karting venues in existence and over the years has hosted many national and international meetings as well as the regular club meetings.

Rye House Kart Raceway is now a famous venue that has become the UK’s foremost karting centres and offers the perfect introduction into the world of motor sport.

It is a great opportunity to enjoy the thrills and exhilaration of go-karting, the ultimate outdoors driving experience.

Adults or children can enjoy the ideal setting and outstanding facilities that include a main track or junior circuit.

With the lack of places for young people to and entertain themselves, Rye House provides a safe haven for showing young people new ways to use their leisure time to good affect.

With drivers starting from as young as five years old, this established kart raceway shows young people how to become ambitious from an early age.

Karting has become increasingly fashionable with the general public and Hamilton’s rise and rise in the exciting world of Formula One, according to one expert, has much to do with its popularity.

Rye House race director, Steve Cutting, told the Voice of Sport: “ Despite the recession the numbers are still huge and people still want the entertainment factor of karting.

“The sport with young kids has grown and that’s down to the Lewis Hamilton effect.

“Since he burst into the Formula One the whole karting scene has gone insane, he’s had a huge impact on what’s gone on.”

Numerous images of Hamilton adorn the walls of Rye House. There is understandably a great sense of pride that the venue proved to be his launching pad.

Cutting added: “Everyone always says when they come here ‘this is the track that Lewis Hamilton started at’

“No one’s down as much as Lewis to get karting recognised.

Christine Taylor, sales and marketing manager for Rye House, is excited about karting’s future.

“We’ve gone from being a general leisure facility to now taking it up another level from a sales and marketing perspective.

It’s all about how we can get more people exposed to karting because Lewis Hamilton has been a great ambassador for the sport.

“Karting is now much more accessible for the general public. Once it was seen as a rich man’s sport; now it is much more affordable and fun, and not just for the individual but families too.

“Rye House has put Hoddesdon and Hertfordshire on the map. It’s one of the country’s foremost karting centres with an outdoor track that looks like a Formula One circuit.

“A lot of that progress is down to the owners who have put a lot of sweat and tears in producing this fantastic facility. We have a unique set up at Rye House.

While new chapters have been written in the Hamilton fairytale, Cutting is of the opinion that there is more Rye House talent just waiting to line up on the Formula One grid in years to come.

“Some of the youngsters we have here are very, very impressive.”

* Rye House Kart Raceway, Rye Road, Rye House, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, EN11 0EH. Call: 01992 460 895 or 01992 468 812

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