A 15-year-old girl from Bradley Stoke has been making a name for herself in the male-dominated motorsport world by winning a succession of trophies in what is only her second year of competitive go-kart racing.
Paige Holden, a Year 11 student at Bradley Stoke Community School, first discovered she had a talent for the sport when she went to a karting birthday party at the TeamSport indoor track in Avonmouth back in 2013.
Supported by her mum Claire and dad Paul, a British motocross champion in the 1980s, Paige started racing at the track every Sunday and soon topped the leaderboard, beating male drivers twice her age.
Spurred by her initial success, Paige persuaded her parents to buy a kart which she could race outdoors, and, after successfully applying for a competition licence from the Motor Sports Association, she began racing at the Clay Pigeon track in Dorset.
Having acquired a full racing licence, she joined the Rotax MiniMax championship series at the Dunkeswell circuit in Devon, and was delighted to be named Rookie Driver of the Year despite competing for only part of the season.
Returning to Dunkeswell for the eight-race 2014 season, Paige then exceeded all expectations by finishing runner-up in the championship, despite sustaining a nasty injury when another driver ploughed into her kart during a practice session on the penultimate race weekend in September.
The recently concluded 2015 season brought even more success for Paige, with victories in both the Dunkeswell and South West championships and being honoured with the Lady Driver of the Year award at the Dunkeswell end of season ball.
Paige’s mum Claire said:
“Paige has come so far since taking up karting and this season she has been superb in every way.”
“The results she’s produced have been fantastic and we’re so proud.”
Dad Paul, who admits being “very competitive for Paige”, added:
“Not many people could get in a kart and do what she does. It’s very special.”
Claire also praised her daughter’s “determination and dedication to the sport”, emphasising the high level of physical fitness required.
Paige says she trains at home for around an hour every night, using weights and doing cardiovascular exercises. Her busy schedule of racing three weekends every month means she finds doing school homework “a bit of a challenge”, but she still finds time to relax by listening to music and watching movies.
“I’m one hundred percent committed to the sport, even if it means missing a party or two. In any case, I have so much fun with the other young people at the racetrack.”
Asked what her school friends think of her karting achievements, she says:
“They know what I do, but I don’t think they really appreciate the speed of it,” adding that she has plans to take a group of them to the Avonmouth track to get a taste of the sport.
As well as requiring a big personal commitment, both from Paige and her parents (who drive her to events around the country), competing in the sport also requires a significant financial outlay, not least the cost of purchasing the kart. On top of this comes the cost of renting an engine (the family is thankful for the support of James Hobbs of Yate based Hobzie Motorsport) and buying two new sets of tyres (wet & dry) for every race.
In the upcoming 2016 season, Paige will move up to the Junior Max category, where she will compete with a slightly more powerful engine against drivers up to 17-years-old on circuits like the PFI in Lincolnshire (the UK’s longest track). Beyond that, she hopes to move up to the open-age Super 1 class, but says her long-term ambition is to “race cars”.
Mum Claire said:
“We’re happy to make sacrifices so that Paige can continue to pursue her dreams, but there’s only so much we can do as a family. We’re hopeful that Paige’s talents will be spotted, enabling her to get the sponsorship necessary to take her racing career to the next level.”
Photos (from top): 1 Paige with some of her many karting trophies. 2 Paige with her championship and Lady Driver of the Year trophies, presented at the Dunkeswell end of season ball. [Photo credit: allaboutcapture.co.uk] 3 Paige in action on the racetrack. [Photo credit: ZwG Photography]
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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