Kettering karter raises money for charity he volunteers at

Mike Smith (sixth from left) with the Fleet Assist karting team and support staff
Mike Smith (sixth from left) with the Fleet Assist karting team and support staff
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A Kettering businessman has raised more than £2,000 for charity by completing a 24-hour European kart race.

Mike Smith (57), who lives in Kettering and is joint managing director of Cambridgeshire-headquartered Fleet Assist, was joined by three fleet industry colleagues in a team event held at the Alain Prost Circuit next to the Porsche Curves at the famous Le Mans race circuit in France.

Mr Smith and his team raised the money to help fund a new minibus for the Kettering-based Nene Valley branch of PHAB, a charity dedicated to the integration of people with physical disabilities in the community, with the aim of promoting and encouraging people of all abilities to come together on equal terms.

The quartet covered more than 1,500 kilometres in the race organised by Teeside Karting.

Mr Smith, who in his spare time swaps his role at the leading supply chain management specialist for the UK fleet and leasing industry for driving a PHAB minibus, was competing in the 24-hour kart race for the fifth time.

Competing against a host of professional teams, as well as two British Touring Car Championship drivers, numerous young and lightweight teams, a very quick all-female quartet and Kartforce, a team comprising serving and ex-serving injured troops, the Fleet Assist team faced tough competition.

Mr Smith, who holds an international rally licence and has a lengthy motor sport career behind him, said: “We arrived at the circuit two days before race day to set up and walk the track. The temperature was 33 centigrade and we were beginning to question our sanity. Racing in such heat is only for the very fit!

The Fleet Assist team changed drivers every one hour 45 minutes, changed the front tyres after 11 hours and apart from a broken throttle spring - quickly replaced - the kart performed faultlessly for 24 hours.

Mr Smith said: “We finished a very respectable 26th out of 38 starters, which we were very happy with. We have already completed our entry for next year’s race and have all committed to be fitter and lighter!”

The PHAB branch where Mr Smith helps as a volunteer driver operates two minibuses, which are a lifeline for members and transport people, many of whom are wheelchair bound, from their homes to weekly meetings as well as to national events, residential breaks and other activities.

Donations to PHAB can be made via Mr Smith’s Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/Mike-Smith76.