“One little problem could ruin my whole race, which looking back on is just ridiculous. Now I can channel that negativity into going quicker, often meaning if something does go wrong in a race, I go better than if nothing happened.”
Blake Checketts, 21 from Brockworth in Gloucestershire is the Vice-Captain of the University of Gloucestershires go-karting team. With a childhood love of watching Formula One and looking up to Lewis Hamilton, he was inspired to give it a go himself.
Go-Karting is realistically the closest a lot of people will ever get to experience what it is like on a racing track. With no belts, kitted out with a suit and helmet, you’re the one who has control when on the track, a feeling that Blake has grown to love. Nearing on five years of experience, he not only drew on his love for the fast paced F1 on tv, but drew motivation from his dad.
“Without my dad already having a background in karting, we would have never started,” Blake said. “He’s always been in karting and drove in multiple championships throughout the 90s and early 2000s. When I was in my last year of school, 2017, we started going to an indoor track in Bristol where they started putting on race meetings during the evenings and we just progressed from there into owner karts.”
Blakes experience has definitely drawn him attention as one of, if not the top, most skilled member of the UoG team. One of the biggest achievements he’s reflected on was gaining a pole position win at the terrible conditions at the PFI inters segment of BUKC just two weeks ago at the PFI track. When he was on the track, the conditioned worsened from just rain to hail and utter downpour, causing the less experienced drivers to spin out at many opportunities. However, Blake thrived in these conditions, his experience giving him the upper hand. The previous week, Blake had also secured a pole position in qualifiers at the Buckmore track, only falling back to 5th in a tough battle for the win.
Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcaes99DyGE
Blake PFI Lap
There is a lot of skill that goes into karting, but the attitude you have really does affect your ability; believing in yourself is the best quality you need Blake says.
“All the great racing drivers at any level of motorsport have a very high ego,” Blake explained. “They think they’re the best and everyone needs to have that self-belief, but there is certainly a fine line between believing in yourself and just being cocky so finding what works for you in that respect is needed.”
The self confidence continues off the track as well, as Blake found out in his role on the university team especially. On race days and weekends, there’s a need to talk to a range of people, whether its to ask for a certain part or tool or general conversation, the ability to talk to people is a necessity to make sure you can get out to the next heat.
“Karting has improved my confidence and helped find ways to deal with anxiety. These experiences have made their way into situations that aren’t karting related and have also helped when it comes to being competitive captain for the Uni club.”
Blake never fails to help encourage the team, pushing for everyone to just have fun on the track. He said that’s the main thing for him; seeing people coming off with a smile no matter how they did. And when people do make faults, it’s about turning them round to points of improvement.