LONG LIVE THE King! - All hail Lewis Hamilton
FHM Magazine South Africa|January 2022
The art of Formula One has been admired by millions throughout the decades, from the first-ever race in 1950 right up to the current 2021 season. In those 71 years of racing, we have seen some of the greatest drivers ever to get behind the wheel, the Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio, famously known as El Chueca, the genius and tragedy that was Ayrton Senna and the ruthlessness of Michael Schumacher. Yet one of the greatest drivers ever to grace the sport is currently still racing, the 7 times world champion and multiple record-breaker Lewis Hamilton. So how did the first-ever black Formula One driver become arguably the greatest driver of all time and what is the secret to his success?

A Man On A Mission

Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton was born on 7 January 1985 in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England to Anthony and Carmen. At the tender age of two, Hamilton’s parents divorced, forcing him to spend his formative years with his mother and older half-sisters, Samantha and Nicola, until he was twelve. It was then that Hamilton would spend the rest of his childhood with his father and half-brother Nicolas. Hamilton would be educated at The John Henry Newman School, a voluntary aided Catholic secondary school in Stevenage. He was an avid soccer and cricket fan, competing in for various teams while at school. However, it would be at the age of five, when his father gave him a radio-controlled racing car, where a young Lewis Hamilton discovered his true love, racing. It turned out that the young Hamilton had a surreal knack for racing, as he would go on to finish second in the national BRCA championships the following year, a competition mostly featuring adults. His father noticed that his son was passionate about racing and then at the age of six bought the young Hamilton his first-ever go-kart for Christmas, with the promise that if his son worked hard and stayed focused on racing that he would do anything in his power to support his career.

Both Hamilton’s kept their promise and the young Lewis’ first taste of success came at Rye House, an unassuming little go-kart track hidden away in Hertfordshire. It was there Hamilton went aged eight, with his father Anthony and a second-hand kart, and took his first step on to the motorsport ladder. He immediately stood out, not only as an incredibly talented racer but unfortunately also due to the color of his skin. Motorsport in England was dominated by well-off white people, and a young black child with a second-hand go-kart stood out. Hamilton’s family was neither wealthy nor white. His father lived in a council house in Stevenage and worked in IT for the railways. He took on extra jobs to supplement his income to find the money to support Lewis’s racing - selling double glazing, washing dishes, putting up ‘for sale’ boards for estate agents, and so on. He once recalled to the BBC, “I had to buy a trailer to put the go-kart on and spare tires, this, that and the other, the credit cards were all maxed out.” Yet the elderly Hamilton kept the promise he made his young son and did everything in his power to support the young child’s passion. However, money was not the only challenge they faced. Racism is reared its ugly head numerous times as the Hamilton’s were usually the only black people trackside.

Racism to Records

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