Indigenous teens glimpse their motorsport future at Australian Grand Prix
[supplied by NIAA]
Racing Together at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix (from left), Karlai Warner (15), Charles Chambers (17), Ayesha Burke (17), F1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart, (behind) F1 journalist Joe Saward, former F1 driver Mark Webber, Braedyn Cidoni (18), Racing Together Director and Olympic silver medalist Taliqua Clancy, Tristian Mitchell-Delaney (18). Image: supplied
Five Indigenous teenagers chasing their dream of a career in motorsport were given a glimpse of their potential future during a thrilling, money-can’t-buy weekend at the Australian Grand Prix.
Members of Australia’s first Indigenous motorsport team, Racing Together, the two girls and three boys aged 15-18 met Sir Lewis Hamilton and other Formula 1 personalities, visited F1 and Supercars team garages, observed pit stops and tyre-changing operations and even visited the podium before Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was crowned the grand prix winner.
The visit was supported by Motorsport Australia and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and organised by team Chairman and co-founder Garry Connelly AM, who said the aim was to show the young hopefuls the scope of opportunities at motorsport’s ultimate level.
“Racing Together was formed late in 2020 because there have been no Indigenous participants in Australian motorsport, despite the huge opportunities it offers,” Mr Connelly said.
“These young people are part of the first group to be fully supported by our charity as they learn about the sport and run their own car and kart racing teams under the volunteer guidance of some of Australia’s most experienced professionals.
“Formula 1 and Supercars have opened their arms to this unique concept and were generous with invitations across the grand prix weekend.
“To meet Lewis Hamilton, Sir Jackie Stewart, Mark Webber and several F1 team managers and to receive their support and encouragement was an unforgettable experience for our five representatives.
“They’ll now return to the task of preparing their Hyundai Excel and Ricciardo kart at Norwell Motorplex in Queensland with even greater enthusiasm and determination.”
The team members said they were overwhelmed by their impressions of Australia’s biggest motor-racing event.
“I didn’t expect anything like this. It’s amazing, so overwhelming and certainly a money-can’t-buy experience for us,” said kart driver Karlai Warner, 15.
“It was great meeting Lewis Hamilton and seeing all the F1 garages and technical stuff. Lewis surprised us when we were in the Mercedes garage and we were able to get a photo. He was very nice.
“The experience has definitely been inspirational. I can’t wait to get home and start preparing for our next event.”
Hyundai Excel racer Braedyn Cidoni, 18, said the team visited Aston Martin, Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams, Alpine, McLaren and Pirelli Motorsport.
“The whole experience has been very inspiring – I want to be a Formula 1 driver!” he said.
Racing Together has partnered with Shell fuel and lubricants national distributor Viva Energy to extend the Indigenous motorsport program to other parts of Australia over three years, aiming to involve 130 young people.
The charity expects to call for candidates for a second intake of team members later this year.
Seasoned fashion designer and first-time fashion performance curator, Lynelle Flinders said this year’s cohort of models will be a mix of experienced Indigenous performers and newcomers.
“It is important that we secure a group of more experienced models that will lead the way and mentor first timers into what is destined to be a truly exciting and special performance,” Ms Flinders said.
Including both 2020 and 2021 online iterations, one of Far North Queensland’s favourite Indigenous models and mentor Benita Williams has participated in almost every CIAF fashion performance since 2015.
“My experience with CIAF has been a real journey since my first fashion performance. Since then, I have met so many people within the modelling industry. It has been an amazing journey watching the event and audience grow.
“CIAF is a great way to get into modelling and could easily lead you to other careers whether it is art, fashion and / or performance. Once you’re in we become like family, working together as one to create something so meaningful to our culture and who we are and where we come from. I love seeing new faces stepping in to have a go, it’s an awesome experience and I’d recommend it to anyone with or without experience. I’m so excited to see what is created this year,” Ms Williams said.
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[Charisa Bossinakis, LAD Bible]
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