WHILE most 17-year-olds are studying for Year 12 exams, Kaiden Manders is busy preparing for a different future.
After becoming the youngest driver to win the annual Magic Man 34 race late last year, Manders has set his sights on a career behind the wheel and his determination and diligence has attracted the attention of talent scouts at the Australia Institute of Sport (AIS) and Speedway Australia, who have earmarked him as a star of the future.
As his schoolmates at Living Waters Lutheran College prepare for Leavers Week, Manders’ focus is on making his name in the world of motorsport.
Juggling schoolwork with his passion for racing, the teenager is preparing for the forthcoming West Australian Speedcar Drivers Association (WASDA) annual grand prix series in Ellenbrook on October 10.
He won won the title last year and is aiming for back-to-back victories as he proves to the racing world that his ability on the track belies his age.
Manders’ ultimate goal is to get to the United States for next year’s NASCAR junior series, but the cost of attending is prohibitive and he is looking for sponsorship opportunities to help make the dream a reality.
“Getting over to NASCAR would be amazing. That’s my ultimate dream, but it would take a lot of money to get me and the car over there,” Manders said.
Manders has already been recognised as a teen with great potential, with Speedway Australia Rising Star program co-|ordinator Shane Collins hand-picking Manders to undergo a strenuous testing regime at the AIS earlier this year.
“There is no doubt that Kaiden’s results at the AIS showed him to be a standout from his peers,” Mr Collins said.
AIS physiologist David Pyne agreed that Manders showed promise during testing.
“Kaiden Manders is lean and has a well-developed level of aerobic fitness comparable to other drivers tested at the AIS who have gone on to international success in various disciplines of motor sports,” Mr Pyne said.
“Kaiden is relatively young, enthusiastic and has a great opportunity to further develop his fitness, recovery skills and lifestyle management as he progresses his speedway career.”
Manders’ determination and persistence to win shines through every Saturday as he makes the two-hour return journey, via bus and train, to the Osborne Park workshop of McAllan Motorsports, the team he races for.
McAllan Motorsports owner Keith McAllan has put his faith in the young driver, with the team believing he can be just as successful as WA’s own Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo.
“Kaiden has blown everyone away with his results so far,” Mr McAllan said.
“His ability combined with his determination to win means he has a bright future.”