Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur have entered into a partnership with Formula One. And as part of the agreement they will be building a karting track under their state of the art stadium in North London.
The electric karting circuit will be constructed between the South Stand of the ground and is another example of the multi uses to which the stadium has already been put.
In addition to hosting all of Tottenham’s home games, it has also staged major boxing events, rugby matches, NFL games, and a number of music concerts.
From the perspective of Formula One the partnership, which is for 15 years, it aims to bring motorsport to new and diverse audiences.
Karting features four wheel go karts and is the stepping stone to higher forms of motor sport. Nearly all the greats of Formula One, including Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, and Fernando Alonso began their careers in karting.
In addition, many NASCAR drivers got their first starts at the wheel of a kart.
Although speeds vary considerably, professional karts can go up to 100 mph. Races normally take place on scaled down circuits but some top level events take place on full race course lengths.
Karting can also be very dangerous. There are more than 10,000 kart injuries a year, and the most common of which are whiplash, fractures, broken bones, and head traumas. Although rare, there have also been the occasional fatalities in the sport.
A lack of diversity in motorsport
One of the big problems that top level motorsport faces is a lack of diversity. Karting is expensive because it costs between £8,000 and £10,000 to buy a top-level cart, and then there are the associated storage and lack driver transport costs.
Many parents just cannot afford the initial costs involved. And without significant financial help, it remains beyond the reach of many an aspiring future world champion.
Sebastian Vettel, who retired from Formula One at the end of last season, has cited cost as the reason why Germany is now struggling to produce F1 drivers.
Meanwhile, Hamilton himself has described F1 as a billionaire boys’ club.
He remains the only driver in a sport that is almost exclusively white and male from the engineers to those who work in the factories.
He at least has done something about it, setting up the Mission 44 charitable foundation which aims those from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds to study STEM (Science, Technology and Engineering subjects) with the objective of eventually establishing a pathway to a career in F1.
By building the new track in Tottenham, an area of North London with a highly ethnic population, F1 are hoping they can attract people from different backgrounds into the sport.
The stadium paying for itself
The Tottenham stadium which was completed in 2019 cost £1 billion, most of that funded by long-term low interest loans. However, it is already beginning to pay for itself.
Not only is ever Tottenham game a sell out with a capacity of nearly 63,000, but every time it hosts another event, that is more money that the club is taking into its coffers.
However, given that the stadium will only host on average 25 matches a season, that means that it is essentially idle for much of the rest of the time and there are still staff costs and overheads which need to be covered, so finding as many uses for it as possible makes economic sense.
The only glaring omission is that the Stadium does not yet have a big name sponsor and is still rather clumsily called the North London Stadium, although many fans still call it by its old name of White Hart Lane.
That is in contrast to neighbours Arsenal, whose ground is now called The Emirates and Manchester City, who play at the Etihad.
The circuit which is expected to be completed later this year will be the longest indoor track in London when it is finished. It will comprise separate tracks for juniors and adults and has already been accredited by the UK Karting Association, opening it up to the possibility of hosting future championship races.
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