Mike races for new minibus
A KETTERING-based businessman and motor sport enthusiast is hoping to raise thousands of pounds for a local charity by competing in a European 24-hour kart race.
Mike Smith (57) will team with three colleagues for the event next weekend, at the Alain Prost Circuit next to the Porsche Curves at the famous Le Mans race circuit in France.
They will be raising money to fund a new minibus for the Kettering-based Nene Valley branch of PHAB – a charity dedicated to the integration of people with physical disabilities in the community, with the aim of promoting and encouraging people of all abilities to come together on equal terms.
This will be the fifth 24-hour kart race for Mike, who is joint managing director of Cambridgeshire-headquartered Fleet Assist, a supply chain management and consultancy for the fleet industry. In his spare time he drives a PHAB minibus.
Competing against a host of professional teams, the race promises to be no ‘walk in the park’ as it is the European round of the Teeside Karting Championship, which traditionally attracts some of the best kart drivers in the UK.
Mike, who holds an international rally licence and has a lengthy motor sport career behind him, said: “During the race, we will each complete three two-hour stints behind the wheel and when you are nearer to 60 years old than you are to 50, six hours in a kart capable of speeds up to 70mph is physically very demanding. Last year, we covered more than 1,000 miles at race speed in the 24 hours: the equivalent of Land’s End to John O’Groats and back to Glasgow, in a kart!”
But he added: “It is all in an extremely worthwhile cause. The PHAB branch where I help as a volunteer driver operates two minibuses, which are a lifeline for members and transport people – many of whom are wheelchair bound – from their homes to weekly meetings as well as to national events, residential breaks and other activities.
“One of the minibuses is no longer roadworthy and the condition of the other means it is close to turning its wheels for the final time, thus restricting the length of journeys made.
“The branch does not have enough funds available to replace the defunct minibus which means we can no longer collect some people. Therefore, the aim of the kart team is to raise enough money to fund a new minibus, which will help to make a big difference to the lives of many disabled people who, without the vehicles, would have a very limited lifestyle.”
Mike and his wife have three children: Jonathon (27) – an IT manager – Jason (24) and 18-year-old Alina. Nene Valley Phab club meets every Thursday in Kettering and has members from the whole of East Northamptonshire.
Donations can be made via Mile’s Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/Mike-Smith76
Pictured above – STARTER’S ORDERS: Mike Smith is getting ready to race to raise funds to buy a new minibus for the Kettering-based branch of Phab club – for which he is a volunteer driver – to replace the current worn-out vehicle.