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Meet Bella Fairclough: The Goldstar Award Winner Taking the Karting Scene by Storm

Written by Caitlyn Gordon, Edited by Juan Arroyo

Credit - British Women Racing Driver Club

The British Women Racing Driver Club was created in the early 1960s with the goal of providing a supportive platform for women and promoting their careers in motorsports.

The GoldStars Award is a prestigious event that takes place every February. It consists of two awards, one recognizing young drivers who are just starting out and another honouring more experienced drivers.

In addition to acknowledging the incredible talent in the sport, the GoldStars also pay tribute to the dedicated volunteers who contribute their time and weekends to the sport. One of the reasons this award is so special is because it is never guaranteed to be given, making it a great honour to be a winner or nominee.

British Women Racing Driver Club

Bella Fairclough, who is only 12 years old, was the 2023 GoldStars award winner in the under 25 category. It is only her second year racing; she started when she was 10 and has participated in various karting and national events. Her unique and raw talent is one of the reasons she was nominated.

Karting plays a significant role in the development of racers as it serves as the first stepping stone toward a professional career. It teaches drivers important skills such as tire management, overtaking, and when to be assertive. The Ultimate Karting Championship, which is broadcasted to over 120 million homes in the UK and overseas, provides a platform for showcasing drivers' unique skills and abilities.

Growing up, Bella never had an interest in cars or racing. However, in 2018, her perspective changed when her father, Will, participated in the Mini challenge at the British Touring Cars Championship. The family followed him around the country, watching him race and ultimately win the championship.

Later that year, the family purchased quad bikes, and as they lived on a hill, it provided an opportunity for Bella and her younger sister to practice and gain experience. They would spend weekends riding the quad bikes, even in harsh weather conditions.

During lockdown, they bought a simulator for Will to practice on, but it ended up becoming a useful tool for the sisters. As Bella started using the simulator more, she began to enjoy it, and cars started to pique her interest.

Slowly but surely, things fell into place for Bella. A new indoor karting track was built and opened in her town, and her father took her there three times a week for two hours. This fueled Bella's passion for cars even more.

Then, an opportunity arose for her to try outdoor karting through her father's old racing team. Bella's younger sister also joined, and when Bella experienced the competitive nature of karting—the thrill of winning, the adrenaline rush, and the art of overtaking—she was hooked and eager to participate in competitive events.

Credit - British Women Racing Drivers Club

Bella began competing and made a strong impression on the karting world in her first year. She participated in six races and finished third overall in the championship, narrowly missing out on being the champion. She won several races during her debut year, and the organizers of the BKC Championship recognized her outstanding achievement by awarding her the "outstanding achievement award."

The season kicked off at Whilton Mill, but Bella faced a slight disadvantage as she hadn't set a qualifying time. Consequently, she started each of the five heats from the back of the grid. Bella needed to perform flawlessly to secure a good starting grid position for the finals.

When the lights went out for the first heat, Bella quickly overtook one of her competitors and maintained her momentum throughout the opening lap. By the end of the first lap, she had gained several positions and was sitting in 10th place.

She pushed herself to the limit for the remainder of the race, and her efforts paid off as she crossed the finish line in 6th position. It was an incredible performance by Bella, and her strong finish ultimately secured her 4th place overall, a remarkable achievement considering the challenging start she had faced.

Following her exceptional debut season, Bella entered the Ultimate Karting Championship in 2022. This championship involves over 300 young participants across the UK and spans seven rounds. It provides a platform for drivers to showcase their skills and seek opportunities for further development. Bella competed in the Honda Cadet class, which had 54 entries.

Credit - British Women Racing Drivers Club

As the season kicked off, Bella continued to achieve numerous podium finishes and secured her first victory in the fifth round at Clay Pigeon. This win was particularly special as she had to overcome karting issues and started the race from the 17th position on the grid.

She lost no motivation and continued to push to the maximum, fighting her way up the field. She finished first and etched her name in the history books as the first-ever woman to win an Ultimate Karting Championship event at just 11 years old.

UKC commentator Jake Sanson praised Bella's performance, saying: "That was the best Honda cadet race drive that I have ever seen... She started 17th and charged through to the win and checked out by 6 seconds. That’s one of the best drives I’ve ever seen, especially from a kid that only started karting last year... A phenomenal talent growing."

While racing in the UKC, Bella also participated in the Wessex Challenge, where she once again showcased her exceptional abilities on the track, securing a 1st place finish by a mere 0.04 seconds. Throughout the season, she consistently demonstrated her speed and set the fastest laps in several of the remaining rounds. Her incredible talent became a topic of widespread discussion, drawing attention to her remarkable skills in only her second year of karting.

Bella's remarkable talent did not go unnoticed, as she received several notable nominations and awards. She was the runner-up for the Downforce Radio Kier Miller U13s Racer of the Year, a finalist for the Ultimate Karting Championship Driver of the Year, and ultimately won the GoldStars under 25 award from the British Women Racing Driver Club at the beginning of this year.

Bella spoke about her thoughts on being awarded this highly esteemed award:

Reflecting on receiving the highly esteemed award, Bella expressed: “I felt really proud and special that such important and high-profile females in the motorsport community were singling me out and recognizing my talent and potential for the future. It made me feel really special and confident for my future.”

Looking ahead, Bella aspires to become a Formula 1 driver and envisions a bright future in the racing industry—one that holds great promise for the young karting driver.


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