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Love of speed takes Donovan to iconic Silverstone circuit

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Donovan Dyer believes he will become the first Bermudian to race at the iconic Silverstone circuit when he competes there next month (Photograph supplied)

At age 2, Donovan Dyer plopped himself on his Tonka truck and went hurtling down his parents’ 100-foot drive.

He screamed with joy; his mother Joanna “died a thousand deaths” as she watched, helplessly.

“He loved it,” she said. “That was the sign on the wall.”

In 2016 the family moved to England, partly to advance his dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver.

They believe the 15-year-old will next month become the first Bermudian to compete at Silverstone, the famed motor racing circuit in Northampton.

All that is standing in his way is £54,000.

“His family has been able to support him up until now,” Ms Dyer said. “We are, obviously, actively looking for sponsors in the UK but it's the first time that a Bermudian – as far as we know – is going to race on four wheels at Silverstone, which is huge. So we are asking the Bermuda community to support the journey and be part of his story.”

Donovan started with a homemade go-kart at the age of four.

Donovan Dyer on a homemade go-kart in Bermuda, age 4 (Photograph supplied)

At seven he was thrilled with his birthday present: a half-hour ride around the go-kart track at Southside.

By the age of ten he was living in the UK where he could get the learning support he needed for his dyslexia and pursue the sport he had become passionate about.

In 2018, when Donovan moved from racing indoors to the “highly competitive” outdoor karting arena, he had only 18 months’ experience under his belt and was competing against boys who had been doing it for at least five years.

In 2019 he bought his own kart and began competing just as the pandemic and its many challenges arrived. In 2021 he moved into “the more competitive Junior Class and entered the Super One Series Championship”, which attracted Bert Jeakins of the sports team Jeakins Race Preparation.

“Not only does he look like he looks – a minority in motorsport – he also comes from a background that …. we're not wealthy. As a family we've sacrificed and pulled together to get him into karting, to get him to the point where he is being seen. So socioeconomically, he's a minority as well. And it's virtually unknown that someone from Donovan's background, someone from such a small country, has made the progress that he has,” Ms Dyer said.

“Even with that comparatively little experience, he's repeatedly coming in the top ten and, I believe on a couple of occasions, in the top four or five out of 34, 35 drivers. It’s quite an achievement.”

The teenager knows the British Automobile Racing Club’s Junior Saloon Car Championship is only the beginning of the hard work needed to fulfil his dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver.

“The process to get into F1 is definitely not easy. It's a lot of dedication. You definitely have to revolve your whole world around racing if you want to get that high. It's not something that you can laugh or smirk about and think ‘Oh that's easy, going around in circles.’ There's a lot of physical endurance,” he said.

“It's definitely my main goal. If it all goes well, I could probably [be a Formula 1 driver] five, ten years from now.”

At the moment he is focused on the 2022 season, which kicks off on March 26 at Silverstone.

“Silverstone is one of the biggest in the world and definitely the biggest track in the UK. It's the home of Formula 1 racing,” Ms Dyer said. “Lewis Hamilton has kind of called it his own over the last few years and Donovan being able to race there is absolutely a phenomenal opportunity.”

In a go-kart Donovan hit about 55mph at his fastest which, “when you consider he is only three inches off the ground is very scary”, she added.

In his upcoming races he will go more than twice that speed.

“It's just the adrenalin, driving through your fears. It's just exciting. It gives meaning. I don't know why but it’s just amazing,” Donovan said.

His mother says “a little prayer” whenever her son goes out on a track.

“He comes by it honestly because his dad is Dennis Trott, who used to race powerboats. So it was expected.

“While not many parents would encourage their son to go faster it was inevitable. In the saloon cars he will be going as fast as 120mph but with better safety features, in the form of a five-point seatbelt, a sturdy neck brace and reinforced car in the form of a roll cage.”

Help Donovan’s F1 dream

Donovan Dyer has his sights set on Formula 1 but is in need of financial support.

For the past two years he has been aided by Jody Smith, of Smith's Trucking; Matthew “Chewy” White of X-Factor Performance Solutions and Northshore Pharmacy Ltd have both signed on as sponsors this year.

The hope is to raise £10,000 by the end of March, when the racing calendar kicks in.

“For a year, all in, we're looking at £54,000. That is a conservative number but it does include insurance, damages, everything that you need to have a successful race here. We do have a portion of it already as we do have a couple of sponsors but we are looking for further support,” said Joanna Dyer, Donovan’s mother.

“It can be in small portions – as little as £150 – or in instalments; whatever people are willing to share with us. It is a great marketing opportunity for businesses in Bermuda that want to have some international recognition. The YouTube channel that this racing is part of has over 200,000 viewers [and there is] also the pre-event and post-event coverage.

“Individuals can buy roof tiles so they have their name or logo or something that they'd like to see on the roof of Donovan's car. Then as you get drone footage, they’d be able to see themselves or whatever their logo is at racetracks around the UK.”

Funding is necessary for Donovan to move forward, Ms Dyer added.

“From our part, everything [else] is in place. We know we will [attract sponsors] once he gets his wheels on the track but it's getting over the first hurdle. We're hoping that if people learn a bit more about him they'll be willing to help him just get over the first little bit. But we’ve gotten this far and with his determination, we’ll get there.”

For more information contact Donovan Dyer: @dyerracingteam on Instagram and Facebook

Many mentors have helped pushed him through. His mother has encouraged his progress on the track and in the classroom where, despite his learning differences, Donovan “excels in product design, maths, physics and entrepreneurship”.

He has also teamed up with Go Beyond, a charity that “provides residential and day breaks at centres in the countryside to children [between the ages of 8 and 15] who are living in difficult or seriously challenging circumstances”.

“Growing up in Bermuda I know how lucky I have been and being able to use my passion to raise awareness of children less lucky is a real privilege,” Donovan said.

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Published February 14, 2022 at 7:48 am (Updated February 15, 2022 at 8:07 am)

Love of speed takes Donovan to iconic Silverstone circuit

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