Highgate racer’s on track to live his dream as he gears up for first event in Caterham Academy Championship
- Credit: Archant
A Highgate motorsport enthusiast stands on the verge of fulfilling a lifelong ambition as he prepares for his first event in the Caterham Academy Championship, which gets under way this weekend.
Lee Collins, of Hornsey Lane Gardens, has always dreamed of competing at any level of motor racing, and now the 32-year-old fund manager will be granted his wish with his first ever set of competitive races – starting at Aintree this Saturday.
Collins grew up in Sudbury, Suffolk, in a household that followed non-traditional sports. He developed a love for racing from his father and went to watch it as a child, but only now will he take part competitively.
“I’ve only ever done things like go-karting at stag weekends,” said Collins. “I’m not overawed though. Everyone will be novices, and the cars will all be technically identical. It’ll all be about driving ability, and I can’t wait to get started.
“Taking part in motorsport has been a lifelong ambition that I’m now fortunate enough to fulfil. Although I’d have loved to pursue the sport professionally, I now have my career in finance and view this as a passion to enjoy, albeit one taken very seriously.
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“My wife Alexia has been very supportive in my decision to go ahead with this and, as we currently have no children, we agreed this was a good opportunity.”
The season curtain-raiser in Liverpool is a time trial event, with each racer attempting to record their best times individually in a series of sprints.
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Collins is competitive by nature but acknowledges that until the proper first race day it is hard to set any targets for what lies ahead.
“Obviously I’d love to win it, but my main aim is to enjoy the ride,” he said. “I know some [of those competing] have done track days on the courses, but the idea is that we haven’t driven on them before.
“I’ve been watching YouTube videos to get a good idea of where the lines are, and hopefully it’ll be the perfect start to the championship. I’m dead competitive so my aim is to be at the front. Time will tell if that’s the case.”
The Caterham Academy Championship involves seven events in total, with points in sprints just as important as in circuit races when all 20 competitors jostle for podium finishes simultaneously.
Between now and October, the Championship will hold one event a month, taking the drivers from Blyton, near Hull, to Brands Hatch in Kent, before finishing up in Silverstone, the home of British Motorsport.
It is not a cheap enterprise. Collins estimates the cost at between £35,000 and £40,000 – including the car, race entries, equipment such as the helmet and spare parts – and he has funded that himself.
“It’s a big financial commitment,” he said. “It always ends up being more than imagine. But if I carry on into a second year then the cost would come down considerably because I’d already have the car and all of that equipment – otherwise it probably wouldn’t be sustainable going forward.”