Halifax racer Ben moving up through the gears in karting with ninth-placed finish at national championship
Kart racer Ben Pickard secured a top ten finish at the British Indoor Kart Championship earlier this month.
Halifax born Ben, 19, had qualified as area champion at Bradford and then came second at the regional finals in Stockton.
Ben then qualified for the grand final at the national event, held in Warrington, finishing ninth out of 16 racers.
“It’s such a social sport, when I got into it I was a quiet kid, it’d just be me and my dad talking, but you come off and you’re like ‘oh that was a great overtake’ or ‘you’re quicker than me through that corner, how do I do better there?’, just talking with people brings you out of your shell,” he said.
“I’m in a group chat and I race with a group of about 16 friends.
“In terms of the racing, you get into a zone when you’re focusing where you get tunnel vision and all you can focus on is the next apex or the person in-front of you, and you totally zone out of everything else, anything else that’s going on in your life.
“In that moment, all you can think about is your braking, or your accelerating, or your turning. All you focus on is the race, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Ben says he would love to make a career out of the sport, but that doing so takes a lot of money.
“The first time I ever went was on holiday in Cornwall, I can’t have been older than six, and it was just a little track,” he said.
“A few years later we decided to go to a track in Leeds, and I did quite well, enjoyed it, racing against adults, and it’s progressed from there.
“Early on I didn’t really do any competitions, I went for the fun of it and did standard sessions racing against whoever turned up.
“The first time I started taking it seriously was when a track in Bradford opened in January 2019.
“I wasn’t as good as I thought I was but I became a lot better.
“Since then I’ve done two 24 hour races, and doing that for a third time in August, I’ve won the local and regional championships last year, got through to the nationals but couldn’t compete because I was in America at the time.
“This year I won the locals and came second in the regionals, and then ninth in the nationals.
“That’s the biggest I’ve raced in in terms of the scale of the event.
“I think everyone would like to make a career out of it, but it’s who’s got the backing and the money to do it.
“I’d love it if it became a realistic option, but the amount of money it takes to get started. For a full season, you’re looking at £20,000 hiring a kart off a manufacturer, but that’s just to turn up and race, with no guarantees about how well you’ll do.”
When asked what his ambitions are in the sport, Ben said: “Just trying to get as far as I can as a hobby. Racing has always been my big love, I don’t like calling it a hobby, because it’s more than that.
“I get sponsorship. I just want to try and win whatever I enter and see where I end up.
“I compete in a lot of different things, there’s indoor competitions, outdoor endurance, a sprint championship.
“The NRG sprint series at Teesside is one I want to win because they have one race a month, and your best six out of eight rounds count. The level of competition there is so high that it’s based on the kart performance a bit.
“You can be competing for the top position every week but if you don’t get a good kart, you’re sent right to the back.
“That would be more of an achievement for me than the nationals, which are a one-day thing, whereas you have to perform over eight months in the NRG.
“And to come in the top ten in the 24 hour would be amazing, just because of the grit and determination it takes to race.
“You do a stint at 7pm and then you’re getting up at 3am, racing in pitch black against 100 other teams on a track, the determination it takes is amazing.”