A Drive to Drive — by Damani Marcano aged 16
From a young age I was always trying to find my passion. I tried everything everyone else said I should try like football, tennis and basketball. I loved basketball but it wasn’t my passion. Then, one day, I went karting just for fun…
In My Element
I hadn’t driven anything before and on my first go I was beating everybody from adults to children. After my second time there I told my dad that I just wanted to drive all day every day.
The manager of the kart track told me that I should go to a bigger outdoor track. The next thing I know I am racing in a series in faster junior hire-karts against drivers with years of experience. I managed to win my third race event and I was encouraged to step up into Motor Sports Association (MSA) club level karting.
The junior karts get up to 75 mph and you need to take a race-driving and theory test for a license to race them.
I started racing with MLC Motorsport at Rye House, the track that Lewis Hamilton started racing at.
I was 14 and against drivers my age who had been racing at this level since they were 7. Even though I was down on experience and could not race as often as them, at the end of my first season I finished third in the championship and I was awarded the club’s “Most Improved Driver”.
To become a professional racing driver you have to be more than just fast. You have to attract sponsors. At 15 I started to build my media skills by creating a YouTube channel and started promoting myself on Twitter. The next thing I knew I was on T.V. Not just once but a few times!
One of my videos got noticed by Tony Gilham, owner of British Touring Car Championship contenders Team HARD, who started researching me. He saw how much I had progressed and saw my pace was up there with drivers who had more than 5 times my experience.
Hard Work Pays Off
Team HARD then offered to part-sponsor me so I could race cars capable of 150mph in the VW Racing Cup and develop me as a driver to race in the British Touring Car Championships. Now I’m working hard to find more sponsors to cover the rest of the budget.
It’s been really hard work getting here because every day I have to wake up very early, even on the weekends. I hardly get to go out with friends. Either I’m getting ahead on homework, racing, training or working on the PR side.
Never Give Up
Racing is really expensive too. I mean really expensive! A lot of the time we didn’t know how we would pay for the next race weekend. To keep me racing, my dad did extra work for the race team and we started a crowd-funding campaign. Every bit helped.
It’s been a tough two years and there is even more hard work ahead but it has been worth it. I’ve only just turned 16 with school, coursework and revision like everyone else but I am doing something that until recently I thought was just a dream… Because just the other day I was driving a car, at over 110mph, around one of the worlds most famous race circuits — Brands Hatch. Later this year, I’ll be on TV racing at even more of the UK’s most famous tracks.
This made me see that life is like a race: if things get tough or things go wrong you just have to keep going at 100% and believe you can reach the finish line. Racing has changed me. It has taught me that if you really want something you can never give up.
Damani recently featured in Daily Star Sunday check out the article here.
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