Over the three years that it has been in operation, the British Racing Drivers' Club's SuperStars scheme has made a genuine difference to the career prospects of some of Britain's most talented young drivers, reckons Tim Harvey – as the BRDC bids to unearth the next Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Jason Plato, Allan McNish or Andy Priaulx.
The SuperStars programme was launched in 2008 to complement the pre-existing Rising Stars initiative, in furthering the careers of young drivers in the sport. Through its longstanding support of the McLaren/Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award
, the BRDC has been and remains firmly committed to the development and progression of British racing talent.
BRDC SuperStars was implemented in order to work with drivers away from the racing environment, with a programme of events and workshops throughout the year designed to enhance their communication and marketing skills. In addition, the club and their patrons are on-hand to help coach and advise the drivers as their seasons unfold, with key aspects including guidance on physical and mental training, media training, sponsorship, ongoing team-building exercises and tailor-made progression workshops.
SuperStars director Harvey contends that such a programme is vital and that for any driver lucky enough to be selected for inclusion, it represents an invaluable opportunity.
“The BRDC has always tried to help young drivers in one shape or other,” the former British Touring Car Champion told Crash.net
, “both in terms of an introduction to the club, what we are about and who we are, and also to put something back from members, amongst whom are every British Champion there has ever been.
“There has always been a young driver support programme, which has taken various forms. The Rising Star scheme caters for up to 40 drivers every year, with each driver reviewed both during and at the end of the year. Those 40 drivers get access to the BRDC and effectively get membership benefits without being members. It's a good opportunity to use the clubhouse, meet the members and do some networking.
“Young drivers coming into the sport and showing promise can see who the BRDC are and use those contacts for their own benefit. It's a badge of recognition that your talent and potential has been seen and acknowledged by an organisation like the BRDC.
“When Damon Hill took over the presidency [in 2006], he decided to focus a bit more on this side of things. All of the members agreed very strongly with that, and a working group was put together to look into the issue of young driver support, which I was a part of. What came out of that was the SuperStars programme, and they then started looking for someone to direct the programme. Through a process of natural selection, all eyes turned to me – which hadn't been the original idea!
“SuperStars is the crème de la crème
of up-and-coming professional racing drivers in all categories. We look for drivers who are on a serious ladder of success and moving up that ladder towards becoming professionals. Hopefully the current members will have a year that helps to move them forward on their chosen career path, be that single-seaters, touring cars or sportscars, and they will take another step up that ladder.