JP Latham, founder of StudentMotorsport.com, is on a mission. He wants to keep the UK at the forefront of global motorsport and he sees the education and development of young, aspiring racing professionals as vital to ensuring that race teams have the resources they need for success in the future.
JP, as he is known, spoke to EnduranceAndGT.co.uk editor Andy Lloyd at Autosport International 2017. JP has good reason to believe he is perfectly positioned to help the next generation of engineers, technicians, mechanics and media professionals – he’s been involved in motor racing, from the perspective of enthusiast, team member, student and teacher for most of his adult life.
”I’m a fan of motorsport and I have a great passion for it because it’s such an exciting and rewarding industry. That’s why I want to help the next generation, because of my background.”
He is well qualified to provide that help. JP studied motorsport at two Further Education colleges and within Higher Education.
“After my A-Levels I studied for an HND in motorsport and I studied for the degree after that. Obviously I had an interest in motorsport otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. They were really great years.”
“So, after a long education and some experience gained in college, I went into motor racing. I went straight into Formula Renault with European and UK-based teams and we raced throughout Europe. I was working for a team who went bust but immediately after I lost that job, I thought, well, I studied for eight years, I’ve got two degrees, I’ve got some experience – I’ve made it! But that wasn’t really true because I couldn’t get a job. So… I had a good education and I had worked in various levels of motorsport and yet I still struggled.”
It was this experience that first sowed the seed that education and enthusiasm alone didn’t guarantee success in the highly competitive world of motor racing.
JP’s career then took a turn that was to change his life and present new opportunities to combine his passion for motor-racing with an interest in teaching.
“I was down in Norfolk and somebody said there was a motorsport job in the paper. I thought they were joking as you don’t find racing jobs in the local papers in Norfolk but nevertheless there was a local college looking for a lecturer in motorsports. It was the College of West Anglia who ran a motorsport division and needed a new technician.”
“They saw a spark in me and gave me some teaching almost immediately. I thought I’d stay five years maximum. I’ve been there seven years now.”
Interacting with students looking to get their feet on the first rung of the motorsport ladder sparked an idea that JP was keen to develop.
“My experience, combined with teaching students at different levels, meant I could see a need for a Facebook or Google of motorsport, one place, without the distraction of social media, where people can share ideas.”
Assisted by the brother of a driver he was working with in Formula Ford, the first website was born.
Today StudentMotorsport.com is growing rapidly in popularity as the demand for clear, unbiased advice and networking opportunities increases in today’s highly competitive job market.
JP explained the objective of the site.
“I call it a vehicle for people in motorsport by people in motorsport. My vision is that it is an on-line community to connect people to provide opportunities and collect information. We’re developing a focused, targeted and structured environment in order to connect the world’s motorsport enthusiasts, students, graduates, institutions and professionals. These individuals and organisations build and manage a professional on-line profile, access resources, develop new affiliations, catalyse and benefit from new opportunities and seek new ventures whilst sharing their information, knowledge and experience.”
The community element is clearly evident in the site. For a modest annual fee, students, graduates, educators and professionals can become a member and open up all the many opportunities that the site provides. The community is open to any ideas for involvement that will help StudentMotorsport.com in its aim of providing opportunities and disseminating information.
It is clear when talking to JP that he is passionate about the journey that StudentMotorsport.com has taken so far and where he wants the site to go.
“I want to start to strengthen the motorsport industry in the UK. We need to pull our socks up and help the next generation.”
If you are a student looking to take the first step towards a career in professional motorsport or an industry veteran seeking an opportunity to support future professionals in your chosen field, StudentMotorsport.com is the place to go.
EnduranceAndGT.co.uk will be supporting the site as JP and his team moves forward into a new era of development for young motorsport professionals.
Click here for StudentMotorsport.com