Remember The Name: Harry Bartle
At the age of 13 Harry Bartle has placed 3rd in the Rotax Series of the Minimax British Karting Championship, the route to professional motorsport and the place where all the current UK Formula 1 drivers competed.
Harry lives in Brookside and is a student at Brookfield Community School, his quiet demeanour hides a level of confidence that means he has a super relaxed approach to his racing. I’m sat with Harry, dad Rob and mum Claire to find out more, the compulsory coffee in hand.
Rob owns and runs Autoselect Cars, one of our advertisers for over ten years, and loves everything with four wheels, "I’ve always loved cars, so we were chatting, and I asked Harry if he fancied a go at Go Karting at an indoor track in Sheffield? Turns out he really enjoyed it plus was quite good at it!" says Rob.
"We went a few times, and it wasn’t long before he joined the Academy that they run at the track on Tuesday nights, they teach racing lines and track etiquette, so it was a useful grounding. However, it wasn’t long before he exhausted opportunities at the track.
"It was clear Harry had talent, so I chatted with Claire about how we felt about him having a go on an outdoor circuit. This would mean some major expense, but we decided to give it a go and unsurprisingly, Harry was up for it when we asked."
Rob got in touch with someone who knew Karts and they found the Daniel Ricciardo Series, attended an open day to find out more, and entered the series after buying a used DRS62 Kart!
These smaller Karts with 60cc engines hit 50mph and are aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds, the series features six rounds and at the end of a superb first year, Harry finished 6th in the series.
Next up was the Superone Series where he improved greatly and finished 2nd in the championship, things were starting to get serious.
Now aged 12, Harry decided to give the next class up a go one weekend, this involved a new more powerful Kart that he would be unfamiliar with and would be racing against drivers who were older than him, in fact he was the youngest starter that weekend. The race weekend consisted of five races and Harry surprised the field by taking the win from 40 drivers.
"This is something that doesn’t happen," explained Rob. "When people join this class, they typically spend several races settling into the new Karts and often don’t finish. What Harry did was amazing."
This race and his performance saw Harry secure a place in the Rotax Series of the Minimax British Karting Championship. Things started well in March with a win in his first weekend, and throughout the year performance was consistent with two 2nd places and one win, after the seven-race series he’d landed 3rd place overall taking seven out of the eight races in the final round.
The first three places in the series qualify for the World Championships, which will take place in Portugal between the 19 and 26 November 2022, unfortunately before we go to print so you’ll have to follow Harry on socials to see how he's done.
What I didn’t really pick up until I was chatting to Harry is that the Portugal event puts him up against the best in the world. Rob says, "it’s been an extremely busy three years but it’s worth it, Harry is learning so fast."
"The time and commitment we’ve had to make is vast, 25% of my waking hours are spent doing Karting stuff!" says Rob. “We’re away every weekend and travel has taken us from Dorset to Scotland. We typically set off on Thursday night and are away until late Sunday, we must thank Brookfield as they have been great supporting Harry."
So how is it watching Harry, I ask? Both Claire and Rob admit that it’s not pleasant, it’s difficult to switch off from the risks involved, the larger 125cc Karts are hitting 70mph+.
I suppose it’s only right to assume that performing at the level Harry does will lead to an exciting career in motorsport, after all Lewis Hamilton started in karts? "It’s not that easy,” points out Rob. “The route to F1 costs millions, all the teams Harry is racing against at the championship level are heavily sponsored and the kids are private schooled, parents are CEOs of major businesses, private jets are not uncommon," he laughs.
Rob took me through some of the figures involved with Karting, five engines at £20k each, engine rebuilds after every 10 hours of racing, exhausts for thousands, all aimed at shaving off fractions of a second per lap, there can be five racers finishing within a second of each other.
Harry is part of Team Croc and is super thankful for their support which provides the Kart chassis, Grice Racing for the engines and Mojo for the tyres.
With all this success teams are approaching Harry to drive for them, and the future looks exciting, after all anyone who won seven of the eight races in his class across the last British Championship weekend is going to be in demand.
Right now, Harry is looking at his options, he’s realistic and not dreaming of F1 but is waiting to see what happens. Once he reaches 14, he can race Ford Fiesta’s and not being the child of billionaires, he’s dependent on his talent, and a bit of luck perhaps!
"I do want to win," says Harry, and I can see that, he’s determined and surprisingly relaxed about it all. "I enjoy racing, it’s great fun." The training needed is serious stuff, gym work, personal trainers, running, computer simulations of the tracks, he’s even taken to eating fruit!
The world championship weekend approaches and I can only wish Harry every success, I hope he comes away with a podium finish and if so look out for a pic in the next edition.
Good luck Harry.
Words: Paul Chapman
Images: Rob Bartle