Britain’s youngest charity fundraiser, 6-year-old Tony Hudgell had his dream of becoming a racing driver fulfilled when he took a few spins around Daytona racetrack in Esher, Surrey on Wednesday 26th May.
The little hero, who has won awards for his fundraising efforts, showed real signs of becoming the next Lewis Hamilton when he got behind the wheel and showed off his driving skills.
Tony has been the mascot of Back on Track since he was taken to the charity’s Karting for Heroes race day in 2019 and was overwhelmed by the experience and since then he has set his sights on being the next Lewis Hamilton (or Jenson Button or Billy Monger)!
And that dream has been inspired by his firm friendship with war veteran Mark Allen who he met at the race day. The former Sapper lost both his legs legs when he stood on an IED whilst serving in Afghanistan in 2010 but then found a new purpose in motor racing. Mark has encouraged Tony to pursue his dreams in spite of his disability (See video link here: “I want to be a racing driver” https://we.tl/t-PKsqbSj4Om).
Hearing of this, Back on Track decided to help Tony by presenting him with his very own racing car which was specially adapted to include the controls on the steering wheel. This customised car will enable Tony to lead onto the track his team of injured veterans who will compete against four other able bodied teams at the fundraising race day Karting With Heroes – Small But Mighty on June 19th 2021.
We would like to thank WrightKarts for generously donating Tony’s kart. It’s brilliant. He loves it and can’t wait to drive it in the race on 19th June, and fully intends to win!And also to Angela Cullen of StitchesRus who worked tirelessly and at no cost, to create the embroidery on Tony’s race suit as well as the decals on his helmet. He says he feels like Ironman now.
Charity trustee, Michael Rust of Property Support Services and Guarding UK Ltd., who made it all happen said: “Small, but Mighty…these are the words we use to describe Back on Track. However, the sentiment also applies to our mascot Tony who is obviously not a veteran…but who has been forced to overcome enormous adversity in his life, yet through his charity work, has made a difference to the lives of so many.
After being presented the car it took only moments for Tony to climb into it saying: “Where are the keys to start this thing?” and insisting that he took it for a few spins around the track.
Mick Rust continued: “I was shocked by Tony’s lack of fear and driving skills. He was fast and fearless. I’m glad we put a limiter on the car! He even took the corners well, not losing much momentum in the turn. Tony has clearly got real aptitude for the sport! There won’t be a dry eye trackside when he leads his team of injured war veterans onto the track at Karting with Heroes.”
Tony’s mother Paula Hudgell added: “Tony loved meeting all the veterans at Back on Track’s annual event 2 years ago, because this was the first time he had really seen others with the same sort of limb differences as him. It was a real eye-opener for him. He instantly hit it off with Mark Allen and spent most of the day following him around. It was so wonderful to see that they had a lot in common and seemed to be in endless chat.
“Back on Track has been very close to our hearts since then and Tony loves being their mascot as the veterans have been such an inspiration to him. He realises that his lasting injuries need not stop him from doing anything at all…if they can, he can….so now he plans to follow his dream of being a racing driver like Mark, because he has realised that although he has lost his legs, he can drive with hand controls. Nothing will stop him.
“In fact, he has his sights set on being the next Lewis Hamilton who began his driving career when he was only 8 years old before winning the the British Kart Championship at ten. Three years later he was signed to McLaren! After seeing Tony on the track today, I believe that anything is possible!
“Tony has such a generous and caring nature. He really wants to raise some much needed funds for this incredible charity and their work in helping our injured service men and women get their lives back on track, so he is asking everyone to support his team by donating: https://backontrack.london/SmallbutMighty
“He also wants Pole Position. He wants to win! “
What the press said about Tony and his Kart:
Heartwarming moment double-amputee Tony Hudgell, 6, is surprised with customised go-kart on GMB | Daily Mail Online
GMB fans in tears as double amputee Tony Hudgell, 6, races in go-kart for first time – Mirror Online
Heartwarming moment double-amputee Tony Hudgell, 6, is surprised with customised go-kart on GMB – 247 News
Around The World(20) Good Morning Britain on Twitter: “‘How do you turn it on!?’ The heartwarming moment we surprised 6 year-old double amputee Tony Hudgell with his very own customised go-kart 😍🥰.Tony is a mascot for the charity ‘Back on Track’ for injured soldiers. @susannareid100 | @billtu | @SwainITV https://t.co/iPdhWSHdMA” / Twitter first film
http://daytimelink.itv.com/GMB second film
ITV Hub – Good Morning Britain – Wednesday 26 May 6am – ITV Hub
GMB Twitter – https://twitter.com/GMB/status/1397449140959911938
GMB Twitter – https://twitter.com/GMB/status/1397453062583824384
Mirror Twitter – https://twitter.com/MirrorTV/status/1397461786555785218
MSN – GMB fans in tears as double amputee Tony Hudgell, 6, races in go-kart for first time (msn.com)