No Fear

Steven Marsh wants to be a motor racing driver- can he achieve his goal? Lets find out together...

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1. Wow

As a young boy Steven Marsh, only six years old, had watched a Formula 1 Grand Prix on TV with his dad. Sitting on the floor, arms crossed, he'd been captivated by the fast cars whizzing around the track, and before long he'd made it his mission to watch every race, buy every book, and learn everything he could about motor racing.

Names like Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet became etched in his brain. At eleven years of age his dad took him to Silverstone to see the 1992 British Grand Prix as a surprise birthday treat, and better yet, his dad had managed to get access to the paddock! Wide-eyed and enchanted, Steven had gotten to see the cars up close- the powerful and beautiful Williams and Mclaren cars, the noble Ferraris, the Lotuses...

The noise was unreal. One car by itself was loud, and there were over twenty of the monsters, revving their engines at once, creating a defeaning wall of noise.

Then there were the drivers. Steven had watched as Mansell, Senna, the new kid Schmacher, and so many more had made their way down the pitlane. He'd been starstruck, to put it mildly, when both Mansell and Senna had smiled up at him on their way past. There was no question at that moment that he wanted to be a racing driver.

The road was long, and hard. His mother and father (more his father, as his mother had been worried) were reasonably well off but not exactly rich, and funding the go-kart lessons as the first step wasn't cheap.

Living in Letchworth, not far north of London, gave Steven plenty of opportunity to practise his racing- a go-kart track offered lessons and even competitions, and at the tender age of 13 he started in ernest. He would fit his moppy blond hair into his crash helmet (which featured an elaborate golden phoenix design), squeeze into his fire-proof jumpsuit (simply plain white at this point), and he would tear around the track in his go-kart.

He'd race against boys quite a bit older than him- 16 and 17 year-olds who had more experience and who were ruthlessly competitive. At only his third race one of them left him with no space to make a corner and he crashed into the tyre barriers, his kart lifting off by two wheels before coming back down with a thump. Steven had been shaken but unhurt, and also angry. He lost a lot of time to the jerk who tried to run him off the track and he wasted no time chasing after him. In the process, he broke the lap record for a kid of his age group three times, and at the same difficult left-hand corner, when the other boy tried to take the inside line, Steven switched to the outside, yet his speed and cornering was so good he shot past the other kid, and left him behind.

Steven went on to claim third place on a roster of twelve drivers- not bad for the youngest on the track.

As he got older, he joined a championship- the Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire Championship- seven venues, two races at each, over the course of the year. A lot of racing would be crammed into the summer holidays, but some races would take place later- such as Letchworth, which was an indoor venue- and would host the final two races.

There were twenty competitors taking part, organised into pairs. Steven was paired up with a lanky kid of 16, Peter Sullivan, a nice lad but a bit vacant. They shared a love of motor racing, and Peter (who kept his black hair very short) suggested that Steven cut his hair, so that it wouldn't get in the way of his eyes when racing. It was such a simple idea (even if his curly blond mop had gained him many female admirers at school), yet it worked. Steven felt more comfortable when racing- and he needed to be, for the karts were more powerful, offering little in the way of easy handling. You had to wrestle the car, and Steven imagined this was what bull-riding felt like.

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