STUDENTS aiming to be Formula 1 engineers have been given a big boost by a Woking businessman.
Billy Gallon, boss of the Buckingham car dealership in Albert Drive, Sheerwater, has stepped in to support a motor racing team run by Brooklands College.
The extra funding will enable the college’s motorsport engineering degree course students to travel around Britain to compete throughout the 2017 UK Formula Vee championship season.
Their car, a 130mph single-seater based around Volkswagen parts, is owned and driven by cyber security company chief Jake Hockley, 39, and all the maintenance is carried out at Brooklands.
Now students, many of whom hope to work in F1 after graduating, will be able to look after the vehicle during race meetings at circuits including Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Oulton Park.
The team will be known as Buckingham Brooklands College Racing.
Mr Gallon, 59, said: “This is a wonderful and exciting opportunity for Buckingham to put something back into the local community.
“It will also help to bring along Britain’s next generation of engineers, who are sorely needed by the motor trade, both on the track and on the road.
“It makes sense for Buckingham, as VW dealers, to have a connection with a nationwide championship for cars that use VW parts.
“Apart from anything else, being involved in a racing team should be a lot of fun for me, my family and our workforce.”
Students Dominic Connors and Adam Burch, both 19, are among those who believe the project will be an important stepping stone to F1 or other international motorsport championships.
Dominic, whose ambition is to become a top racing car designer, said: “This is a great way to get there.
“This sort of racing is where companies and teams look for future employees and even by itself it will give me a really good experience of working with a team.”
Adam, who hopes to become a data analyst, added: “It’s 100 per cent about experience in the motorsport world, so every race I attend will go on my CV and will definitely help me to land a job after graduating.
“To be able to say I’ve helped to run a team at a track is so much better than just saying I’ve been in a workshop.”
The team is stepping up to a full season of racing after dipping a toe in the water last year by undertaking a limited campaign without sponsorship.
Its value was shown when one of the students involved, Toby Cook, landed a job with the renowned M-Sport team, which ran World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier to victory in this year’s Monte Carlo Rally.