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Friday 13 December 2019
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It feels good to inspire C’bean youths

Twelve-year-old TT racer signs 15-year deal with Mercedes…

Alex Powell after winning the 2019 Winter Cup Championship. - PHOTO COURTESY JOHN POWELL
Alex Powell after winning the 2019 Winter Cup Championship. - PHOTO COURTESY JOHN POWELL

FROM racing karts in a car park to competing among the world’s top young racers in the world, TT-born 12-year-old Alex Powell said he wants to give other youngsters growing up in the Caribbean the belief that they can achieve their goals. Alex’s journey in the sport was a simple one. As an eight-year-old,he began racing at TT Karting Association events,held at the Arima Race Club car park in 2015.

Alex’s family has been living in Trinidad for the past 20 years. His father John is Jamaican and his mother Claudia is Colombian.

Alex, who has two older sisters, grew up in Trinidad before moving to Italy a year and a half ago, along with his mother, to continue pursuing his dreams in the sport. John considers his son “ a Caribbean national.”

Alex fell in love with the sport after tagging along with his father – a former racer.

The younger Powell has been excelling throughout Europe in the mini category (13 and Under) with the Energy Corse Racing Team, which has included a number of top finishes.

Alex Powell punches the air after winning the 2019 ROK Super Finals in Italy. - PHOTO COURTESY JOHN POWELL

One of his recent wins came at the ROK Super Finals, in Italy, where he won his category in a field of 132 drivers.

Alex’s success has not been unnoticed as Mercedes Benz signed him to a 15-year partnership with the Formula One programme earlier this year, making him one of seven drivers signed to the brand.

Alex adds his Caribbean touch to Mercedes alongside popular F1 racer Lewis Hamilton, who has Grenadian roots.

Alex, who spoke with Newsday from Italy yesterday, said, “It feels really amazing and really good to inspire young kids. I just keep on trying my best to show them that a kid from the Caribbean can come up and do really well and compete with the others, so I hope that they can follow in my footsteps and do as good as I am doing so far.”

Alex, who will be moving into the junior category, has his plans for the upcoming years.

“I want to win the WSK Super Master Series next year and also the European Championship and the World Championship hopefully, (that is) concerning next year. Just get better and better during the year since it is going to be my first year in the new (junior) category.

Alex Powell along with his father John, from left, sister Isabella, mother Claudia and coach Mike Wilson. - PHOTO COURTESY JOHN POWELL

“I am practising now, just preparation for next year and hopefully, next year I can do really well. The year after we don’t know if we are staying in the same category or if we are going up to the senior category, so we will see how next year goes.”

Alex, who got a lot of support from his former school St Andrew’s Private before leaving Trinidad, said it is challenging at times driving in the cold conditions in Europe.

“If the weather is cold and it’s raining it will affect your performance because the track will be a lot slower because there is no grip on it.

“If it’s just cold and there is no rain then it will also affect your performance because over here, it is quite humid when it gets cold and it then just takes off all the grip from the track, so it is technically like driving in the wet.”

John, who is in Trinidad currently, said what makes the story motivating is that his son started on Caribbean soil and others can follow.

“What makes it all the more special is that Alex went to school here, Alex grew up here, Alex’s first time on a go kart track was a parking lot here, versus Europeans the first time they are on a go kart they are on a track...a lot of people can relate to starting in a car park.”

John spoke highly of 15-year-old Barbadian racer Zane Maloney (now competing in Formula Four), saying he has paved the way for other Caribbean racers such as his son.

John, who goes to Italy once a month to visit his son, encouraged young people to follow their dreams.

“He (Alex) is truly an inspiration to a lot of people...dreams for youngsters can come true. In my time, sports was not a big thing you had to go and study your books. (In) sports you can make a very good living when you see the kind of money Lewis Hamilton makes and you can (succeed) through any sport – Brian Lara with cricket (and) Usain Bolt (in athletics).

“Don’t matter where you come from in the world, if you apply yourself and you try and really want it dreams could come true because this is a dream. Who would ever think that a kid from the Caribbean (could make it so far).”

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