Thomas chases his dream

YVETTE BATTEN - NORTH TARANAKI MIDWEEK
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2012
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Yvette Batten/Fairfax NZ

Need for speed: Thomas Boniface has a bright future ahead of him in kart racing.

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A case of the green-eyed monster between children often leads to problems.

But this was not the case when Thomas Boniface watched his now-13-year-old sister Jess racing around the track at great speeds in a kart.

"I got a little bit jealous," Thomas confesses. "I was like `I want to have a go.' I couldn't have a go in my sister's kart because it was too big."

So his family got together and bought him a kart. Now Thomas is eight and aspires to be the next Scott Dixon. Already he's got placings, mostly in the top five, under his belt.

"It gives me a challenge and not many people get challenges like this," Thomas says.

Since he began kart racing he's started 168 races and finished all but two. His green kart can travel at speeds of up to 80 kilometres an hour.

So it's no wonder if his parents' heart rates get a little high sometimes.

"He's only had two decent crashes," his dad Robert says. "Now that he's in the top two or three every time we go somewhere I get a bit anxious.

"Purely because now he's right up the front end and if something goes wrong it could go quite wrong."

Thomas is dressed up to the nines with light weight, and often expensive, safety gear. It's not uncommon for the gear to cost in the hundreds.

"I'd feel terrible if something did happen to him but I think the chances are fairly minimal that he's going to get seriously hurt."

Despite it being a sport in which only one person can be in the kart, it would not be possible without the support of family.

In Thomas' case his grandfather Barney Davis sponsored him and has never missed one of Thomas' races. Kart racing is not cheap. The family has invested about $50,000 already.

"We don't mind spending the money ourselves but to be able to maintain that we just need a little bit of assistance," Robert says.

"We're confident that he'll become NZ1. We think he's got the ability and other people have said the same thing. It's just a matter of maintaining the momentum."

At this stage many weekends are spent travelling somewhere around the country to participate in competitions.

This year alone the plan is to compete in 27 events from Auckland to Christchurch so that Thomas gets the experience he needs to get to the top.

"Kart racing, like all motorsport, gets a bit pricey so we were hoping to land a sponsor to help us," says Robert.

Thomas is a member of the Kart Sport Taranaki. Karting can cater for drivers anywhere between six and 69. Thomas is one of the youngest drivers in the country in his class.

Karting is a special sport because it teaches children life lessons early. They learn about winning and losing and are often called upon to give speeches at meetings.

"By the time he's 16 he would have been driving for nearly 10 years," Robert says.

If you would like to support Thomas visit www.teambonifaceracing.co.nz or email htbauto@xtra.co.nz.

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