The Ginetta Junior championship has been the start of many young drivers’ car racing careers. The championship last year saw fifteen rookie drivers compete in at least one race, and this year is shaping up to offer just as much fresh talent.
Max Bird is one such driver.
Last month, it was announced that Bird would be joining Total Control Racing for the 2016 Ginetta Junior championship, his first season in cars.
Bird started his career when he was only eight years old, racing at club level before going on to race in the national Super 1 Championships. In 2011, he became the Vice-Champion of the Forest Edge Cadet Karting Club series and, last season, he won the TVKC Junior Rotax Karting Championship.
“The competition at PFI was tough,” Bird told Overtake Motorsport. “I was fighting against two good drivers who were teammates, so could always work together to beat me, which didn’t always work for them, because they would sometimes crash into each other.
“It was very difficult towards the end of the season because my engine blew up and we had to use my second engine, which wasn’t quite as fast, but was still enough to win the title.”
“Going into the final race there was huge pressure because I wanted to finish my karting career on a high,” he said. “So my Dad and I worked all the points out and I had to come third to win the championship. This was difficult because the start of the race, I got pushed wide onto the marbles and lost five positions, so then I had to fight back to third by the end of the race which I did, just. I regained third on the last corner. That was how close I came to losing the championship.”
It certainly was an exciting end to Bird’s karting career, and we can only hope they’ll be that much excitement in his next season (though I imagine Max might be hoping for a little less excitement…).
In some ways, racing is in Bird’s blood. He first got into karting after watching his dad, who raced karts in endurance races, at the six hours of Monaco when he was six.
“I then thought, I want to have a go in one of them.”
Bird has worked closely with his father throughout his karting career so far.
“We argued a lot but he was my mechanic throughout and helped me along the way,” Bird explained. “But now I race in cars I work with the team instead.”
Bird’s first taste of car racing came in the Ginetta Junior Winter series in November.
“My preparation ahead of my first car race was to get as much seat time in the car as possible, to learn the track, make sure that I was fit, and listen to all the team had to say,” Bird told us.
“The biggest challenge I have faced so far has been making the step from karts to cars,” he said. “They are hugely different to drive. But one thing I will car on to cars is the race craft I have learned in my karting career.
“If you want to get into racing, you have to start in karting. It is a very good proving ground. You need to learn all the race craft to win races and after a stint in karting, getting podiums and race wins, you should be ready to make further steps in motorsport.”
Like all the young drivers that will be racing in the 2016 season, many of them rookies, Bird is hoping to progress once he’s proven himself in this series, as he did through karting. Keep an eye on the junior formulae. This is where the big things are going to grow.
Image credit: Ginetta