For young drivers moving up from karts, it is almost accepted that the move to cars is to be in a single-seater series with dreams of moving up the development ladder to Formula 1 and Indycar. But single-seaters are not the only way a young driver can pursue a motorsport career as there are a number of series that should be seriously looked at when looking at their options. This week I look at 6 programs that any young gun in karts or just somebody interested in pursuing racing should take a look at. They are the TCR International Academy and Endurance, The Caterham Academy Championship, the Junior Saloon Car Championship, Legends Racing, the Ginetta Junior Championship and the Reiter Young Stars Cup.
TCR International Academy
The TCR Academy and Endurance is a new academy and series set to launch in 2018 aimed at young drivers interested in developing their skills within a touring car environment. It is being launching in cooperation with Touring Car Racing (TCR) and consists of both an academy and a six round endurance series. The academy is based at Adria International Raceway in Italy and will offer a range of learning modules differing in length, nature and degree with instructors primarily coming from the TCR family of racing series. The racing series itself will consist of 6 rounds in Europe consisting of two one hour races on Saturday and a 4 hour series on Sunday. Both the TCR Academy and the TCR Academy Endurance have a fleet of 50 TCR racing cars including Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR, SEAT León TCR and Audi RS3 LMS TCR and the total prize fund will be 600,000 Euros. More information can be found at http://www.tcracademy.net/.
UPDATE (August 15, 2019): Since this post was written the TCR International Academy has ceased activities. The new TCR Europe Academy will be offering a number of programs that may be of interest. Further details can be found here and a listing in the Directory for this new academy will be added soon.
The Caterham Academy Championship
Aimed at drivers with no previous racing experience, the Caterham Academy Championship in the UK is an all-inclusive racing championship that has been running for over 20 years. The championship is only open to novices and puts the young driver on a well-developed motorsport ladder that will allow them the opportunity to progress onto touring or sportscars. Tightly regulated using identical machinery, this series is unique and affordable and well worth a look. Further information can be found at http://uk.caterhamcars.com/motorsport/academy.
The Junior Saloon Car Championship
The UK’s Junior Saloon Car Championship (or JSCC) is a championship that bridges the gap between karts and cars, offering drivers between the age of 14 -17 an opportunity to get behind the wheel of a hatchback and compete on UK national circuits, all at a fraction of the cost of other comparable championships. Drivers in the JSCC have gone on to race in a number of different series including sports and touring cars. With full grids and a calendar of 9 race weekends, the series offers competitive and reasonably priced racing experience and well supported events. More information can be found at http://juniorsalooncars.co.uk/.
You can find their Motorsport Prospects listing here.
Legends racing is probably the most distinctive type of racing on this list as the cars raced are 5/8-scale replicas of American cars from the 1930s and 1940s but are a relatively inexpensive way to start racing. It’s a spec racing series with 3 styles of cars and 7 body styles that race at a number of tracks in the USA (http://www.uslegendcars.com/), the UK (http://www.legendsracingeurope.com/), Finland (http://www.legendscars.fi/), Denmark (http://padborgpark.dk/?id=22845) and France (https://www.legendscarscup.com/).
Ginetta Junior Championship
The Ginetta Junior Championship is the UK’s longest running junior series, offering the first step on the motorsport ladder for 14-17 year old racing drivers. Racing as part of the British Touring Car Series package on a 25 race, 10 round championship, it gives aspiring teenage drivers a great platform to showcase their talents both in the UK and Europe as a whole and has been proven to be an ideal way to move on and up to other motorsport championships. In addition to the junior series, Ginetta also operates a Young Driver Development program as well as a Junior Scholarship which offers the winner a fully funded drive in the championship. More information can be found at http://www.ginetta.com. You can also visit their Motorsport Prospects listing here.
Reiter Young Stars Cup
The Reiter Young Stars Cup is a fantastic series that not only supports young drivers but engineering students as well. Each team is made up of 1 Industrial Partner, 1 Marketing Student, 2 Engineering Students & 2 Young Drivers. They race the KTM X-BOW GT4 on 5 tracks in Europe and the two winning drivers as well as the winning team win a fully supported season in the Blancpain Sprint Series. More information can be found at https://www.rys.racing/. UPDATE! This program has been cancelled for the 2018 season but Reiter is competing in the three new GT4 series, the European, Belgian and Central European GT4 Championships.
There you have it. Six very different junior development series offering some interesting options for the young drivers. And this is just a taste of what is out there. As always, I will be covering junior driver developments in the coming months and these series and more can be found on Motorsport Prospects. When planning your motorsport career, it is important to think outside the box and look at as many different opportunities as possible. You never know, doing well in one of these series could possibly make your motorsport dreams come true.
Until next week.