St Albans kart champ cuts it close thanks to local barbers

Go Karter Patrick Pearce with Alternative Barbering owners Dan Martino and Sam Campagna

Go Karter Patrick Pearce with Alternative Barbering owners Dan Martino and Sam Campagna - Credit: Archant

A ST Albans kart racer once just a hair’s breadth away from hanging up his helmet has been spurred on by local firms including a barber shop full of “Formula 1 fanatics”.

Twenty-four-year-old Patrick Pearce, who has been racing karts for 12 years, admits that to some people the sport “may seem like something you do on holiday”.

He added: “But the karts I race are capable of reaching speeds of up to 95mph. My main thing in life is karting – it’s something that has taken over the lives of myself [sic] and my family. We have never been on holiday since I got into it.”

The skilled driver was crowned British Schools Champion while representing Beaumont School from 2001-03.

In 2004 he finished 8th in his debut race of the Notax DD2 - the fastest kart class - in the European Championship.

And in 2008 he was placed 9th in the competition and won the last round of the British Championship, which helped him qualify for his first World Championship, where he finished 6th.

Two years later Patrick, who works in St Albans as a mechanical tester, had a memorable year winning at Spa-Francorchamps, venue of the F1 Belgian Grand Prix, and finishing second in the European Championships.

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Unfortunately the Dutch team backing him went into administration, leaving him without a race team last year.

Patrick explained: “At this point I considered retiring as I had no financial backing from a race team and the sponsorship I had was not enough to keep me going.

“Word got around about me quitting and I was called by ex-speedway world champion and commentator for Sky Sports and Eurosport, Kelvin Tatum, who asked if i would sign for his team as they were looking for an experienced driver to help them develop their team.

“At the time this seemed a risk as the team had never achieved much on the continent but in my eyes I just wanted to keep on racing, therefore I had nothing to lose. Straight away we were at the front and managed to recover fourth in the European Championship.”

Patrick has paid tribute to Kelvin for being his best manager, and being particularly good for the “psychological side of racing”.

He is also grateful to several St Albans-based businesses including Alternative Barbering on George Street, which has recently started sponsoring his protective gear, including his overalls.

Patrick said: “The lads there are F1 fanatics. Many people have asked why I never progressed to car racing. But you would need a huge budget, no matter how good you are. My parents paid for much of my racing, back when it was affordable.

“I rely hugely on the support of my race team and sponsors to keep me going.

“It’s also been a huge factor that I have had the support of my family and friends along the way.”