The motorsport industry needs to diversify to secure its future

Idris Elba said the motorsport industry needs to follow in the footsteps of the film world, working to better represent the diversity of society if it wants to “secure its future in an ever-changing world”.

The 49-year-old Hollywood star has launched a new initiative, called Speed ​​Academy, with Total Karting Zero, which aims to discover and nurture young motorsport talent from underrepresented communities.

Elba, who confesses to being a “car freak” and has been a part of rally car series, explained that there is a “narrow entry point” into motorsport due to expense and opportunity, but hopes the scheme can highlight that there are “pockets” of talent”. everywhere”.

The Hollywood star has launched a new initiative that aims to discover and nurture young motorsport talent from underrepresented communities (Dave Benett/PA)

The Hollywood star has launched a new initiative that aims to discover and nurture young motorsport talent from underrepresented communities (Dave Benett/PA)

Elba told the PA news agency: “I think it’s important to improve, the future is diverse, there’s no doubt about it. It is a statistical fact that the world is becoming more and more diverse.

“It’s just the nature of evolution and so if motorsport wants to represent that evolution in any way, they need to plant those seeds now.

“It’s the same in my film industry. For a long time, television didn’t look like the world it represents, it was too biased towards a certain type.

“And there had to be an exodus of thinking about how to change that and that went from the actors and the cast to the storyteller and the productions.

“And you look at television now, you look at the cast, it’s a broader spectrum of our human race.”

He emphasized how this has improved the reach of the film and television industry, adding, “So for the auto industry to secure its future in an ever-changing world, it needs to follow suit a little.”

The Luther actor said he wants his new scheme to help improve representation in motorsport, as he feels that “just because you come from a certain background doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the opportunity to break into certain industries.”

To launch the initiative, Elba put out an open call to find future racing talent ages six to 16 from unrepresented communities, offering the chance to compete to win Speed ​​Academy long-term scholarships.

Hundreds of candidates responded and were reduced to 29 youngsters who faced off against each other in the 2022 SABIC E-Prix race held at ExCeL in London over the weekend.

Nine young people were chosen to receive the development and continuing education grants, with the majority of recipients being young female pilots and an aspiring engineer.

Elba said he thinks offering opportunities like this is a “game changer”, adding: “One of these kids could end up driving a Formula E car in 10 years, five years, who knows, but at least the opportunity was given to one area that didn’t have it before.”

Initiatives provide opportunities for future racing talent ages six to 16 from unrepresented communities (Dave Benett/PA)

Initiatives provide opportunities for future racing talent ages six to 16 from unrepresented communities (Dave Benett/PA)

The actor also reflected on the “massive impact” that seeing representation in his industry can have as he recalls how a visit to his Newham school by The Full Monty actor Paul Barber “changed his life”.

“He was tangible proof that you can be from a community like ours, where it’s mostly black and brown, and you can end up like Paul.

“And he sat in a room and said, ‘Look, you might not take drama seriously right now, but I’ve made a good living out of it and I’m enjoying it and it’s a great career.’

“It changed my life because I was like, ‘Wow, it’s really possible. Look at this guy, he’s just like me’”.

Elba said he plans to expand the initiative to more communities and then wants to find a way to replicate the program in different countries.

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