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If you’ve spent any time following the still relatively new Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship, then by now there’s a good chance you’ve noticed the sub-series Student Motorsport Challenge (SMC). SMC is the work of John Paul Latham and colleagues to produce an educational, real-world motorsport program for college students offering an opportunity to engage with the world of motorsports, providing hands-on experience, valuable industry connections, and a platform to showcase their skills and innovation.

I could talk about this program all day because I believe in the underlying method of learning by doing, but at its core SMC is all about giving students (as aspiring motorsport professionals) a chance to actively participate in racing events, in the weeds, applying their classroom theoretical knowledge in a practical and very real-world environment. This isn’t just for the mechanically oriented either, the program is open to students from various disciplines, including engineering, design, marketing, and business management. Teams typically consist of students from different backgrounds, fostering a multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving. Each team is responsible for designing, building, and racing a competition-ready CityCar Cup racing car, complying with the specific regulations outlined by MotorsportUK, the BRSCC, and the series specifically. Probably best of all, the students receive no differential, or preferential treatment – mistakes are followed with penalties, car problems results in DNFs, and the series does not make themselves available to assist them in ways they wouldn’t for another competitor. They are entirely responsible for the outcomes, their successes and failures, both on and off the track.

I started speaking with JP back in March after a referral from series coordinator Lyndsay. I was looking for another “arrive and drive” type of structure similar to my RABsport partnership, but competing in CityCar Cup. She offered me a list of teams but highlighted JP’s program and suggested I reach out, so I did, and happily so.

Over the following couple of months, JP and I discussed both his goals for the program, and mine with respect to the 2023 season as well as where I thought I could be helpful in the context of increasing awareness of the program, getting involved beyond just driving, and ultimately partnering up with an entrant if a seat made itself available.

In late April (right in time for my birthday!), I began discussions with Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate (QE), a new entrant that was working tirelessly to have a car prepared and ready for Round 2 at Croft Circuit after having missed the season opener at Snetterton. QE is an independent school situated in the Yorkshire area. Established in 1912, it has developed into one of the country’s leading educational institutions, providing a comprehensive learning experience for students aged 3 to 19. The school offers a wide range of academic programs and in addition to its strong academic focus, places great emphasis on holistic education. The school offers a variety of extracurricular activities, including sports, arts, and music, enabling students to explore their passions and develop well-rounded skill sets – which in this context, involved introducing a motorsport program.

This effort led by Helen Snuggs, together with Matt and Liz, meant entering the first sixth form college to the SMC, a unique differentiator whereby students under 18 would be involved in the team. We had just 2 weeks to go to finish the last bits on the car, finalize the draft of the driver agreement, and get the team and car entered into the series and transported to Croft. In the end, we would manage to get it all done just in time, and what a start we would have at Croft…!

I’m looking forward to staying engaged in the Student Motorsport Program, with Queen Ethelburga’s, and as a racing driver in the CityCar Cup Championship throughout 2023. It’s going to be a great season, with a competitive car, and a fantastic group of students, faculty, and staff.

Media used: Sam Martin (Barracksport), Student Motorsport Challenge, Arthur Simondet