Having already impressed on his maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) test outing with Pirtek Racing at Silverstone late last year – his prize for clinching the Ginetta Junior Championship crown, the finest accomplishment of his fledgling career to-date – Tom Ingram has now been officially acknowledged as one of the very best drivers of his generation.
As a measure of his tremendous success in 2010 – with five victories, 13 podium finishes, six pole positions and eight fastest laps en route
to the Ginetta Junior title in only his second season out of karts – and his astonishing acceleration up the grid, Ingram was recently summoned to return to Silverstone by the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC).
There, he was introduced to prominent BRDC members Ian Titchmarsh and erstwhile BTCC star David Brodie – and subsequently bestowed with the club's exclusive Rising Star accolade.
The 17-year-old was one of only four drivers selected for the recognition, and aside from now carrying the kudos of the illustrious BRDC badge – worn with pride by some of the country's most eminent sporting heroes including F1 World Champions Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Sir Jackie Stewart and the club's president, Damon Hill – Ingram will benefit from the use of the plush BRDC clubhouse at Silverstone for sponsorship meetings on race weekends.
“I'm truly honoured to be associated with such an iconic name in motor racing as the BRDC,” the former British Karting Champion enthused of his admission to a very elite organisation. “It's the most prestigious club you can be a member of in UK motorsport if not indeed the world, and to be asked to join is such a privilege. I'm just ecstatic – really, really, really pleased – and so proud to be one of the chosen few.
“I knew who Ian was because I'd heard him commentating at the circuits, and I recognised him straightaway. He and David told me about what the BRDC does and explained all its history, and they asked me about what I'd done in my career so far and what I'd like to do in the future.
“They said they could see I had been racing at the front a lot and that they knew I was a very consistent driver, and David told me I was one of the most naturally-talented drivers he had ever seen. When someone says that to you it's just such a huge compliment, and I didn't really know what to say back!
“The use of the BRDC clubhouse is such a boost, too. To be at the Home of British Motor Racing in such a fantastic building and great facility is something that I'm sure might help to seal a deal. It's just unbelievable inside; there are photographs up on the walls of all the Gold Star winners – it's a history lesson all in itself, and a real 'Who's Who' of British motorsport.”
In its esteemed role as the 'Guardian of British Motorsport', the BRDC has been committed since its foundation to fostering the interests of British and Commonwealth drivers and bolstering their chances of achievement in the sport, and just a quick glance at its roster of alumni demonstrates that its talent-spotting credentials are second-to-none.
The Rising Stars are scouted trackside, and with eight national champions from its ranks in 2010 alone and the inspiration of Hamilton himself as one of its greatest success stories, it is clear that all concerned believe Ingram has the qualities and the credentials to go a very long way.
“The BRDC has always been passionate about promoting the most promising young racing drivers and in Tom, the club sees a young man with real potential,” affirmed club secretary Stuart Pringle. “We are delighted to welcome Tom to the Rising Stars scheme, and we hope that this endorsement of his talent will help to open doors as his career progresses.”