Pole Position: a load of ideas arrive in a shed

Tomorrow's engineers can be found today tinkering away in the sheds at the bottom of their gardens.

Garden sheds and motor racing. What's the connection? Well, you would be forgiven for thinking that garden sheds have no place in contemporary motor racing, but I disagree.

I would go so far as to suggest that a nation without garden sheds is going to find it difficult to compete in the high-tech world of motorsport engineering and racing.

Some of the best and most creative engineers developed their skills and enthusiasm while tinkering in their sheds at the bottom of their gardens. Repairing a lawnmower, pulling a moped apart, building radio-controlled model racing cars, maintaining a dirt bike - all these tasks are the building blocks of a career in motorsport for the young, inquisitive mind.

Let's face it, if a lad gets to the age of 15 without knowing how the internal combustion engine works, yet can tell you everything you ever needed to know about using Facebook, its highly unlikely you'll ever see him down the local race track.

This is actually a worrying trend and I believe Mark Zuckerberg should share the blame for the shortage of graduate engineers. Of course, engineering is a difficult subject compared to, say, graphic design or dance but I have a hunch there will be a correlation between the incidence of garden sheds and the number of engineering graduates.

Do you know the difference between a crankshaft and a lift shaft? If not, then ask yourself, did your parents have a garden shed? See!

No seriously, if children are not exposed to the mechanical world through fixing their own mountain bikes or helping dad service the family car, can we reasonably expect them to end up maintaining or driving a racing car?

And that's the issue I see with the development of motor racing in the UAE. Not enough sheds. Teenagers living in apartments are clearly condemned to a boring career in IT. Even the bourgeoisie living in villas have to put up with a car port. When was the last time you met someone who had an air-conditioned garage or workshop? They are as rare as hen's teeth in this part of the world. And that's why we struggle to get the younger generation away from the computer/TV/fridge when they should be tinkering in the shed.

Not convinced? How about famous sheds; The Malcolm Campbell Shed, for example. The former world land speed record-holder, Campbell built his first shed at Brooklands in 1926. Without this famous shed, which is now one of the attractions at The Great Racing Days of Brooklands, we would never have had the world record-breaking Blue Bird.

Formula One constructor Ken Tyrrell, the man who discovered world champion Jackie Stewart, started his business in the family's woodshed and I had the pleasure of running out in one of Uncle Ken's last creations, a 1985 Tyrrell 012.

So there we have it. The FIA simply needs to distribute garden sheds if it wants to see motorsport develop in the UAE.

Barry Hope is a director of GulfSport Racing, which is hoping to find an Arab F1 driver through the FG1000 race series. Pole Position appears every week in Motoring. Join the UAE racing community online at www.gulf-sport.com or on Facebook at GulfSportRacing.

Published: November 19, 2011 04:00 AM

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