Monday, 14 October 2013

BARC Magazine Coverage

Amazing coverage in this months BARC magazine. Very chuffed.


And it reads something like this:

‘A day in the life of’

By: Amanda Black

Amanda Black is a newly appointed assistant head teacher at Skegness Grammar School, here she tells all about juggling teaching and motor racing.

There is one thing I feel adamant about in teaching and that is being a role model to pupils. You have to be someone for students to look up to and aspire to, to help increase motivation and create a desire to learn. I go to work to make a difference and to help pupils reach their true potential. I believe this can only occur if you are doing it yourself, striving to be the best that you can be.

I suppose my motor racing journey is an excellent example of having a dream and doing anything about it to achieve it and make it reality. I also have the added bonus of doing it in a male dominated environment which I believe is incredibly important for young girls to realise that anything is possible. At the age of 14 I had a dream of going motor racing and becoming a Championship winner. The motor racing dream only became a reality 9 years later when I entered Formula Women. It was an amazing experience. My first ever circuit racing experience at Pembrey I gained pole, fastest lap and a race win. Unfortunately the prize of winning a seasons racing did not come through and I was back to square one, truly believing that I had raw talent but would never go racing again.

At the age of 27 I thought it was now or never. The financial implications of being a teacher that is a self funded racing driver can be very challenging at times but the bug bites you and you just want more and more. All other life luxuries go out of the window and I just wanted to go motor racing again. I bought a Classic Caterham and signed up for the BARC Caterham Graduates Racing Series 2011. Not knowing anything about cars, how to service them, how to set them up or even how to race prep them I took the gamble. I knew it was going to be a steep learning curve. At this point I didn’t even have a tow vehicle to get the Caterham to the racing circuit, in fact I didn’t even have a towing licence! My mother and I effectively did everything ourselves and just about got bye in the first year (And loads of phone calls to male friends and McMillan Motorsport for help later!) My first race was at Silverstone and I achieved the fastest lap out of a grid of 20. 18 of them being male made me think that my Formula Woman success was not because of a lack of competition but because I did actually have natural talent! I got pole by race 5 and had an amazing first season. In 2012 I narrowly missed out on a 3rd place championship finish but did manage to achieve 5 wins and various fastest laps and lap records. The season was fully of highs and lows. Driving into the pit wall at Anglesey in the wet was the lowest of low and racing two cars in 1 race weekend at Cadwell was a major high. I was delighted to be announced the 2012 British Womens Racing Drivers Champion, an accolade I was not expecting but one that I value immensely.

Having such a massive passion for motorsport I was delighted to learn about the BARC British Schools Karting Championship and last year we entered for the first time. Skegness Grammar School held karting trials to gain a place in the team. The 3:30 bell would ring and I was ready in the school mini bus to drive to our local circuit. The pupils were buzzing and enjoyed every minute. As a teacher I believe it is enrichment activities like this that make school fun. If children are having fun and enjoying themselves they are more likely to engage in education and learn. A wide range of skills are developed in these types of activities that develop the whole child. Pupils also loved the fact that ‘Miss’ was out karting with them and going faster! A female teacher going fast, they really did think this was amazing and cool! I do hope that I have changed their views regarding female drivers! The school A team managed to qualify for the regional finals and did very well for a first attempt.

This year the interest in karting exploded to the point I had to ring up Mark Turner at BARC and beg for more entry slots. The next problem was they didn’t all fit in the school mini bus! 5 teams entered the initial rounds and pupils came from a wide range of backgrounds. Pupils with no karting experience to regular racers, boarders and day pupils, 13 year olds to 18 years old which created a great social aspect with pupils integrating outside of their peer group and socialising with others that they normally would not get the opportunity to mix with. I had sporty to non sporty pupils. The non sporty pupils had never accessed our extracurricular sports club programme before and were now getting their first taste of competition and representing their school in a sport. I was also utterly chuffed to be entering my first girl karter! My ambition next year is to enter a girls only team.

I was gutted to learn that the SGS A team qualified for the National Finals and I was not going to be able to support them as it clashed with my own BARC Caterham Graduates round at Castle Combe. Qualifying for the final was an amazing achievement for the team, in only our second year of entering the BSKC. They did very well but were over powered by more experienced drivers. The distance to the circuit also made it difficult to practice before the event. I wish I could claim all the credit for them reaching the final from my excellent coaching but life is about opportunities and I gave them that.

I have thoroughly enjoy arranging and organising the karting opportunities at Skegness Grammar School however it does end up being quite a timely commitment. Trip forms, letters, risk assessments and collecting money are all admin tasks that always take longer than you think! Our local BSKC circuit is a 3 hour round trip from Skegness. Adding the karting time and of course a naughty dinner stop at McDonalds, we would get back at 10 o’clock on a school night. However it is worth every minute. Many have grown in confidence and have greater self-belief in themselves. I have also developed a respectful working relationship with some challenging pupils that have not always met our high expectations in the school environment. Through my experience of the BSKC the pupils grow and shine. To see them get so enthusiastic about something and see a sparkle in their eye is a very special moment.

The 2013 season for myself saw a change of class to the Caterham Graduates Sigma Championship and a reduction in Friday testing due to work commitments. I have still managed to win 8 out of the first 10 races. My life time ambition of becoming a motor racing championship winner is amazingly realistic and achievable. It has not been an easy journey but one of learning and how we are learning all the time. This is a valuable lesson for all for, especially young people, that we never stop learning and we must challenge ourselves.

In September I start my new role as Assistant Head teacher. As part of this I am in charge of Behaviour and Rewards. I will be using the BSKC and my own motor racing experiences as a tool to help embed a success culture and raise aspirations to achieve. If there is something you want to do in life you have to strive for it. It may not be easy. You might not get there straight away but where there is a will there is a way.

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