We Are Walero: Harry Hickton
Community sits at the very heart of Walero. We love hearing the many stories of success from those who wear and champion Walero across the globe. In this series, we check in with our athletes in all corners of the world to find out what drives them to Get The Edge.
This month’s edition sees us sit down with Harry Hickton, an avid wearer of Walero since his first steps into the world of racing. Harry’s journey into motorsport is much different to most young racers out there, but his passion, drive and determination are the qualities that really make him stand out from the crowd.
A racer with humble beginnings, Harry Hickton was bitten by the motorsport bug from an early age, his father was a keen club racer in both current and historical competitions around the UK and Europe, and since Harry was introduced to the joys of racing, he hasn’t taken time to look back and stop.
“Motorsport has always been a key part of my family life, my dad was always racing when I was a child and there is a very funny story that sits alongside that,” he jokes. “When I was only 3 months old, my parents had to sort me a passport photo so we could go to Spa Francorchamps! I don’t think my dad wanted to miss out on that opportunity.”
“I’ve always just had an obsession with it, there are so many photos of myself in my dad’s overalls or wearing his helmet in our old family photo albums! But it’s not just the racing that I love, I’ve grown to appreciate what goes on during a race weekend from the other cars that are competing to just taking everything in as I wander around.”
Harry’s journey so far has seen him competing in both the Junior Saloon Car Championship (JSCC) and the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge Trophy since 2020. Both are fiercely competitive championships, filled with young and eager drivers looking to make a name for themselves in a world where the smallest of details can often make the biggest differences. However, Harry’s first appearance in the world of racing would take place in the midst of the pandemic in 2020 when curiosity got the better of him!
“Myself and my dad both thought it would be great to get out and actually do some proper racing! I had always been there trackside with him or my family, watching on keenly, but to actually get behind the wheel for the first time was a goal we both wanted to achieve. I remember that opening weekend like it was yesterday and being the most inexperienced driver on the grid was the biggest challenge!”
“We just rocked up to the track with my grandad, the car and a gazebo and set about giving it everything we had. Just to be there at the track was an awesome experience, growing up around my dad had made me fall in love with racing and to have the opportunity to actually be driving the car and not just standing on the sidelines watching was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I had to take with both hands.”
Harry’s debut race would see him competing in the JSCC alongside fellow drivers with much greater levels of experience and at one of the most technical and tricky tracks the UK has to offer, Cadwell Park!
“That opening weekend is something I can look back on and be really proud of! Before we got to the track, I had no experience in the car and hadn’t even done any testing! I had no idea how I would do, I was thinking that maybe I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I just went out on track with the aim of having fun. It actually went pretty well and I had a brilliant time just soaking it all in, it was a big learning experience for sure and a baptism of fire, but I bought the car home in each race we did!”
In his first year of competition, Harry would complete no testing or prior experience to getting out on track, learning as he went on and looking to gather as much experience as he possibly could. Competing against drivers with years of experience, he would hold his own against the very best the championship had to offer and would complete the 2020 season with a smile on his face.
2021 and 2022 respectively would see Harry back out on track in the JSCC and he was eager to follow on from his impressive maiden season in the sport. 2021 would provide him with plenty of valuable experience, setting the tone for year that was to follow. 2022 would see Harry rise to the challenge as he acquitted himself against the very best to finish as vice champion, amassing 8 wins, 13 podiums, 12 pole positions and 4 fastest laps in a brilliant year that firmly placed himself amongst the very best of the championship.
“2021 served as a great platform for me to kick on and really achieve as much as possible in 2022. We had come so close to winning the championship the year before so getting the chance to have another crack at the championship was what I needed! I also felt 2022 was where I really figured out my skills as a driver and how to approach every weekend from a mental standpoint to achieve the most success possible.”
“As the season went on, we just got better and better with each race and I could sense myself really finding some confidence in the car and in my abilities as a driver to be battling it out at the front of the field. 2022 also saw me join Westbourne Motorsport, a fully fledged team with plenty of experience in the championship and I think that was the catalyst that we needed to kick on and really fight for the championship as it gave me that platform to push from.”
“I would like to say there is not one particular moment that sticks out to me from those two years,” he recalls. “I feel like it was an experience that allowed me to evolve myself as a driver. Although I receive good coaching and most of that is invaluable when you hit the track, I’d like to think that the lessons you learn from your own mistakes are even more valuable. When I look back and think what I could have done differently, that is where I find my biggest sense of improvement.”
After he clinched vice champion status in super fashion in 2022, Harry would be set on looking for a new challenge and championship in the world of racing and he would settle for one of the most competitive championships currently racing in the UK today, the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge Trophy. Highly regarded for its intense racing action across every lap, with the majority of the field separated by the finest of margins, Harry viewed it as the perfect opportunity to sharpen his racing skills for the next step of his career.
“My fascination for competing in the Minis was driven actually by my general desire for wanting to go racing in the midst of the pandemic. I remember seeing that they had been added to the TOCA package and thought what a great opportunity that would be to get involved with a championship that is featured on the UK’s premiere motorsport calendar for several rounds in a season.”
“Myself and my dad both agreed that it didn’t look to too expensive to compete it and that it would actually be worth the time and effort spent to get there, so we completed in the JSCC for several years, got all the experience I needed and in 2023 we decided to make the step into the Minis! It helped massively that the championship has become so popular as the years have gone by and it really did feel like the perfect step to be taking next.”
2023 would also see another piece of the puzzle fall perfectly into place for Harry, as Westbourne Motorsport, who had supported him for several years in his JSCC championship challenge decided to take the step up to the Mini Challenge Championship at the beginning of the year!
“To have the team at Westbourne step up and support us in 2023 was a massive confidence booster before the season had even started, it just gave me that extra belief that they wanted to continue the journey with myself and I headed into the season on a massive high.”
“The Minis are just fantastic to be a part of and it is definitely one of the most exciting championships in the UK for sure,” Harry excitedly explains. “It is one of the most competitive and you can have fifteen people in each race that are all capable of going for the win! I remember at Silverstone where the top six all finished within five tenths of one another after a twenty minute race, so you just don’t get that kind of action anywhere else.”
Harry has had in his own words, ‘a very up and down year’ in the Minis across 2023, with the season kicking off in positive fashion with a strong showing on his championship debut to battle it out around Silverstone with seasoned championship veterans. However, it would be Thruxton where a fairly large spanner would be placed into the works…
“Thruxton looked set to be another great weekend for myself and I was coming into it having made some good progress in my knowledge of the car and my confidence really was skyrocketing! We started the day with good speed in qualifying to place second and finished third in race one so it was looking promising, but unfortunately in race two I was just caught up in a really unfortunate series of events at the final chicane which led to the accident.”
“It’s not a nice feeling to be rolling, it was pretty terrifying and the worst part for me was being stuck in the car upside down with that impending feeling of dread that I just couldn’t get out, no matter how hard I tried! But a massive thanks to the marshalls and safety team who got me out safely, but the car was absolutely totaled which was heart wrenching at the time.”
“In some ways I think the crash has made me better, I came back wanting so much more and there was a feeling that I had really established myself in the top five of the championship so my desire to get back out on the track and be racing again was the highest it had ever been!”
Since that massive crash at Thruxton, Harry has most certainly kicked on in 2023 to claim a 2nd at Snetterton and a 3rd at Donington Park respectively, not only placing himself firmly in the fight for the rookie honours but also keeping him in the top half of the championship standings, a fantastic achievement in just his rookie season. One round of the championship remains at Brands Hatch GP in November and Harry is certainly chomping at the bit to get out on track in that final round.
“This year has certainly been a fantastic one, I feel like we are where we want to be with regards to competing for wins and podiums and that really is testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved from the team to my dad being there to support me at each race. It’s a year that’s seen my driving skills improve massively and my confidence in myself and the car has only grown, even with that massive crash in the middle of the season.”
“It has also been slightly frustrating as myself and the team know that we can win races, but sometimes we’ve just fallen short at the final hurdle which has been a bitter pill to swallow sometimes. However, all it does is just provide even greater motivation for myself to kick on and push even harder next season knowing that I am more than capable of getting the results I want in 2024.”
Overall it is clear to see that Harry is someone who doesn’t lack the drive or ability to be where he is today and for someone to take the steps into racing at a later age and still make an immediate impression is testament to his hard work both on and off the track to better himself with each passing race that he takes part in.