At nine years old many youngsters are just about riding a bike without stabilisers – perhaps they have a go-kart they potter about in. But Olly Turner had ambition way beyond toys when he was younger. His love of cars, passed down from his dad, an engineer for Jaguar Landrover, led him to bypass toy cars in favour of JASCAR (Junior American Stock Car Racing).
For four years he spent every bit of spare time – and his savings – competing until he was old enough to graduate to the Fiesta Junior Championships and this year he will debut in circuit racing.
He says: “My ultimate goal is to become a professional world class race driver with a particular interest in GT and endurance style racing.”
Now, still only 14, he is not only determined and ambitious but he has his feet firmly on the ground when they’re not only the car pedals. Even at the level he is driving at he has chosen to promote a charity close to his family’s heart: Gloucestershire Young Carers.
Gloucestershire Young Carers supports children and young people – from 8 through Olly’s age to 24 – who are caring for someone in their family who is ill, disabled, experiencing mental ill health or who are affected by substance misuse.
Olly says: “I’ve volunteered with the charity and heard some of the stories of the challenges the young carers face. I’m pretty privileged to be able to do what I love doing so it makes sense that I use my profile to help other young people.”
While Olly considers himself ‘privileged’ he has chosen a sport more often linked to families from motorsport backgrounds, links to the sport or…and here’s the key…a continuous source of money to fund their hobby. But people in the sport soon spotted he had talent.
He says: “I won under-13 driver of the year – The U13 Young Gun of the Year Award – and that got us a lot of attention. Furthermore last year he was a finalist in the Ginetta Cars Junior Scholarship competition”.
This season, for the first time, he will join the Junior Fiesta grid with the BRSCC around the county – starting with Brands Hatch in April.
Olly says: “A typical weekend format will start with testing on the Friday, then Saturday we’ll enter the qualifier to determine my group position and then there’ll be two races on the Sunday.”
Mum Sarah says: “He’s pioneering really because he doesn’t come out of motorsport heritage or have lots of funding behind him. He has worked really hard to prepare for this formula, developing as a driver on from stock car racing. There are people in motorsport that claim you can turn anyone into a racing driver – teach them the skills with the right backing. But the driver has got to want to be there, have belief in his capabilities, have passion and Olly really does”.
“Many drivers want to go into Formula 1 but Olly is more interested in world endurance: Le Mans 24 and driving for the manufacturers’ teams. It’s hard to know the future but we all keep really positive and he is doing so well, he is smart, doing well at school and doing well in his sport regardless of the barriers he is having to overcome.”
Olly faces his first challenge in his new class in April at Brands Hatch, driving his Fiesta emblazoned with the Gloucestershire Young Carers’ logo alongside a raft of other sponsors.
He says: “I like racing because it’s fast…it gets me in the zone and I can shut my mind to everything else and just focus. I like the pressure I feel challenged and love the momentum you get.”
It may be a different challenge but just like many young people his age he has found his zone…his release from teenage pressures.