The newly established Praga Cars UK has been pushing hard to make an impact in a crowded marketplace and in challenging times with some eye-catching initiatives designed to boost awareness of their product and organisation – up to 10 of the entry-level prototypes look set to grace a new standalone class at the top of the order for this season’s Britcar Endurance Championship with some publicity-worthy drivers on the roster in a move designed to attract a new audience for the racing, and, in particular, the cards!
Lest you be left thinking though that this is all about throwaway headlines and not a longer-term view there’s news this week that Praga is embarking, together with the Silverstone University Technical College (UTC) and VR Motorsport (VR) with a new ‘Education & Experience’ partnership that aims to support the college’s students looking for careers in all levels and aspects of motorsport.
Mark Harrison, Managing Director Praga Cars UK, Neil Patterson, Principal at Silverstone UTC and Vincent Randall, owner of VR Motorsport, met around the all-carbon Praga R1 racing car at the college’s Silverstone headquarters last week and agreed an immediate plan for collaboration in 2021 to introduce Praga racing drivers to the students and in return provide junior resource into VR Motorsport’s support of 10 Praga R1s in this season’s Britcar Endurance Championship.
The trio also agreed on a longer-term programme that should help students gain crucial experience in their ambitions to work for teams at the pinnacle of motorsport.
The partnership will begin alongside the start of the 2021 Britcar Endurance Championship on 24 April at the college’s home circuit at Silverstone. Harrison, Patterson and Randall have agreed on a working plan that will see students:
– work during Britcar race weekends with VR Motorsport’s teams of professional racing drivers, and Praga’s Guest Drivers that include high-profile personalities such as Abbie Eaton, Charlie Martin, Jay Morton, Mr JWW and Jimmy Broadbent in a safe way that introduces them to the excitement and the pressures of motor racing
– work with Praga and VR Motorsport on a programme of presentations at Silverstone UTC and Praga Cars UK’s new brand centre in Cheshire that support their curriculum focusing on motorsport events, marketing and commercial operations
– get access to the Praga R1 and Praga R1 racers in a way that allows them to practically understand the engineering principles and day-to-day pressures of being a racing driver in order to see just how the R1 delivers results for drivers, team owners and mechanics.
Patterson sees three core benefits of the collaboration for his students at Silverstone UTC:
“It’s aspirational, selecting students to work with Praga and VR Motorsport will be rigorous. The most deserving will be rewarded using criteria that ensures a level playing field. Students will want to be part of this programme and have Praga on their CVs.
“It’s real – for those studying high-performance engineering, and business and events management, attending presentations given by people who have been successful in the world of motorsport and supercars will have much more impact than when the same information is presented by teaching staff. Being able to touch and hold engineered race car components, sit in the cars, and talk about how race programmes are run will bring the curriculum to life.
“It will lead to better outcomes for all students, not just those selected to work directly with VR Motorsport for Praga during the race season. Our students will be able to talk more confidently about the business of motorsport having had direct exposure through this relationship.
“I’m delighted to be working with Mark again, and this unique programme we are developing with VR and Praga appeals to students studying both our specialisms, not to mention the staff! This kind of close working relationship with businesses is what makes a Silverstone UTC education such a compelling offer for young people aged fourteen to eighteen who want to forge their careers in high-performance technology, business and events management.”
Mark Harrison said: “This partnership is really exciting, especially as it is firmly located at the home of British motorsport and reignites mine and Neil’s working relationship from the launch of McLaren Automotive a decade ago. Neil’s students are very excited about the opportunities which will deliver on Praga and VR’s support for diversity in motorsport, helping young men and women who want to work in motorsport but don’t have easy access to racing teams.”
Vincent Randall said: “VR Motorsport is committed to creating an environment whereas many people as possible get to experience the joys of motorsport. We believe with the correct support in place anybody can have a fulfilling career in motorsport regardless of gender, ethnicity or disability. Commitment and endeavour are perhaps the most important attributes you need to be involved in this sometimes difficult but always rewarding sport. Our partnership with Praga and Silverstone UTC is another important step in a racing future.”