MOTOR RACING: Moving up a gear to take it to the Max
WILTSHIRE speedster Max Cornelius is aiming to carve out a name for himself in Formula Ford as he looks to breathe new life into his racing career.
The 19-year-old, who lives in Great Hinton, has vowed to make up for lost time after seeing his racing ambitions stall for the last three years.
Cornelius, a former Midlands Mini Max and Clay Pigeon Mini Max karting champion, finished as runner-up in the Autosport Young Guns series in 2010.
But he nevertheless struggled to cement himself a consistent place on the track, also falling foul of broken promises of a career as a test driver in Spain and New Zealand along the way.
But last summer, the teenager, who has been working as a scaffolder in recent years, gained a new manager in local racing guru Chris Witty and is now hoping to revive his race career in next year’s Formula Ford EcoBoost200 series.
“It’s been a big financial struggle. You’re talking about raising about £100,000 a year in whatever series you want to do, especially if you want to be a contender in it,” said Cornelius.
“The last three years have been so difficult and I feel like I’ve barely done anything.
“I was promised to go to Spain to become a fully-paid test driver – I was ready to pack my bags.
“I was also ready to go out to New Zealand but that didn’t happen either.
“It’s demoralising and at the end of it, I thought it could lead to a different life but then it was like being back to square one.
“I went from racing most weekends and being away all the time.
“My life was racing back when I was training to do Formula 3 tests, I was training twice a day. “I didn’t drink or have much of a social life. I was always in bed at the right times and eating the right foods.
“But when you get on the podium, it’s all worth it.
“I’m not saying I’m the best driver in the world but I know I’m good enough to go somewhere. If it wasn’t for Chris coming along, I wouldn’t have carried on.
“If I can get the opportunity, I know I’ll be fine.”
Witty, who once worked for Toleman Motorsport, the Formula One team that handed Ayrton Senna his debut in 1984, has helped his protégé identify Formula Ford as the ideal class to re-launch his race career and is hoping to garner enough support to finance Cornelius’ comeback.
“Like all sports these days, motor racing is tough because you’ve got to commit time to it and raise a lot of money,” said Witty, who lives in Trowbridge.
“There used to be a time when, if you had the talent, you could make it on that – those days are long gone and now it’s a combination of talent and backing.
“We come from Jenson Button country here. For a long time, he had to pay for his own racing until he got the backing to go into Formula 3.
“I met Max’s mum and grandfather and everything it developed from there. “What we’re trying to do is erase the last three years because Max came out of karting with a superb career there and did well in his first season of racing but then it went down a few cul-de-sacs.
“With Max, I like the idea of a local lad who’s going to get on the podium and in the papers a lot more.
“We’ve sat down and said ‘you’ve got to be realistic’ and ‘you’ve got to be wary of certain promises’.
The thing with the Formula Ford series is that it’s backed by Ford and if you get involved in it, the series in itself helps promote you.
The hardest point will always be getting companies to support a young, talented driver but all I want him to do is just focus on driving a racing car and not have to worry about how it’s financed or anything like that.
“We’re just focussing on a career in racing and see where we go from there.
“He’s got the speed but we just need to get him training and testing again so that he’s ready to go race again come March.
“It’s three lost years but it’s not insurmountable.”
FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @WTSport
Comments are closed on this article.