A YOUNG Somerset racing driver reaches speeds of up to 40mph in a pioneering e-karting championship organised by an ex-F1 mechanic.

Seven-year-old Felix Barrie of Taunton races in the Total Karting Zero series organised by Rob Smedley, who has previously worked in Formula 1 as Felipe Massa's race engineer at Ferrari and as Williams Racing’s technical director.

Alongside running the Total Karting Zero series, Smedley is currently F1’s director of data systems.

Felix also takes part in club rounds at Clay Pigeon Raceway in Wardon Hill, Dorchester, where he recently finished in third place, and has raced in the British Championships at Dunkeswell's Mansell Raceway.

Next month, he will race in the British Championships at the PF International Kart Circuit – the UK’s largest outdoor karting track – in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

The kart Felix drives is fully electric, representing motorsport’s commitment to reducing its emissions, and averages speeds of 35mph around a lap.

The electric karts produce less noise than their petrol-powered alternatives, meaning the championship became the first to take place at 12pm on a Sunday at Mansell Raceway – usually not allowed due to noise pollution.

Tom Barrie, Felix’s father who attends all of his races with other family members, told the County Gazette: "With petrol cars due to cease production in 2030, motorsport will no doubt be going the same way and we are trying to make an early start in that adoption.

"It’s greener, cleaner and fairer. We don’t change the motors each race like they do in the petrol series, the motors provide exactly the same output, and we can race at midday on a Sunday.

"The karts are no slouches and are breaking lap records around the country!"

Felix looks up to Glastonbury's Lando Norris, who races in F1 for McLaren and recently achieved his career-best race finish at Italy's famous Monza circuit. 

Somerset County Gazette:

Smedley launched the F1-backed series, formerly called Electroheads Motorsport, in July last year to improve accessibility and diversity in motorsport by reducing the costs involved for the families of young drivers, which he says can reach £100,000 for children as young as 11. 

He often attends races to give guidance to the drivers and help them maximise performance from their karts.

When he launched the series, Smedley said: "It's to get more people involved. When I stopped being involved with the (F1) teams at the back end of 2018 it was about doing something, giving something back.

"Right down at the grassroots you've got to grow the amount of people that can get involved. It's such an expensive sport, but it's such a brilliant sport and it's such a brilliant way of getting involved in motorsports and feeding that interest into Formula 1."

Total Karting Zero operates on an ‘arrive and drive’ basis, and children can take part in half-day taster sessions or compete in a full race weekend.

A race weekend consists of a track walk to help the drivers learn the circuit, practice sessions, qualifying, warm-up rounds, heats and a race.

Drivers are provided with a fitted, electric race kart, a full race team and coaching to improve their on-track performance. 

There is still a cost involved in Felix’s racing, so his family have asked for any potential sponsors to get in touch to help him continue his motorsport journey.

You can find out more or get in touch about sponsorship by visiting Felix's Instagram page (@felix_racing).  

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