Formula 1 Cars Built form Balsa Wood

Silverstone Innovation Centre was in the thick of things at the recent Autosport International show at the NEC in Birmingham. Centre client, Sarah Franklin of Sarah Franklin Racing, came a close runner-up in the prestigious British Women Racing Drivers’ Club Gold Star Awards. And the Innovative Thinking Award in the national finals of the Formula One in Schools Technology Challenge was sponsored by Silverstone Innovation Centre and presented by Centre Manager, Dianne Wilson.

Sarah Franklin was a Gold Star Award nominee in the club driver section, for members of the British Women’s Racing Drivers’ Club (BWRDC) who aspire to become professional drivers. As a nominee she will benefit from dedicated web pages for the coming year, created by a professional design agency that will showcase her to potential sponsors and the media, in addition to having had personal video presentations on a dedicated stand at Autosport International. Sarah Franklin’s Porsche Cup Car was also a star, taking centre stage at the exhibition.

The Gold Star Awards are the BWRDC’s preferred way of highlighting talent within the sport and helping the nominees and winners promote and progress their careers. Sarah Franklin said: “It is a great honour to be a nominee for the inaugural BWRDC Gold Star Awards and I am pleased to be part of such a great group of drivers. To be chosen out of all the club’s members up and down the country is amazing!” She also praised the support she has received from Silverstone Innovation Centre since moving in. “Being based at Silverstone Innovation Centre has enabled me to focus on growing my business. The networking opportunities available have also given me the opportunity to make some great contacts, which is always important in motorsport and goes a long way to establishing and improving any business.”

The Autosport show also featured the finals of the Formula One in Schools Technology Challenge. Silverstone Innovation Centre sponsors the Innovative Thinking Award, which was presented by Centre Manager, Dianne Wilson, to the Road Rippers team from Lochgelly High School in Fife.

The F1 in Schools competition challenges students to design, construct and race a scale model F1 car made from a block of balsa wood and powered by a compressed gas canister. Working in teams of between three and six, students prepare a business plan, develop budgets and raise sponsorship, as well as designing and racing their car. The challenge has the aim of inspiring students to learn about physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacture, branding, graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership, teamwork, media skills and financial strategy.

The Lochgelly team had shown particular initiative in developing a piece of equipment to measure drag, a key factor in determining the speed potential of their racing car. This approach won them the Innovative Thinking Award.

Andrew Denford, Chairman and Founder of F1 in Schools, said: “The future of Formula One should be in safe hands if the standard achieved by all our entrants is an indicator of prospective British engineering talent. F1 in Schools is providing students with an innovative, engaging and rewarding programme that encourages independent thinking, team work and engineering learning.”

Dianne Wilson, Manager of Silverstone Innovation Centre, said: “It was very exciting to see Sarah Franklin, one of our Centre’s resident entrepreneurs, win a nomination for a BWDRC Gold Star Award. It should be a great stepping stone for her and the Sarah Franklin Racing team. Meeting some engineering entrepreneurs of the future from Lochgelly High School was also a great pleasure. The team had clearly worked very hard on their car and thoroughly deserved the Innovative Thinking Award that we are proud to sponsor.”

Silverstone Innovation Centre is a joint venture between British Racing Drivers Club and the East Midlands Development Agency and is managed by Oxford Innovation, the UK’s leading operator of innovation centres.

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