Karting remains a passion as Bewley chases lofty ambitions
While he has a fervent focus on a professional career in tin-top racing, Hawkes Bay teenager Tom Bewley has not lost any of his passion for karting.
So much so that the 15-year-old made an overnight dash from an intensive week at the Elite Motorsport Academy in Dunedin to compete in the National Schools Karting Championships in Auckland.
Amid dodging the wild and wet conditions at the nationals, Bewley was excited to talk about his massive week crammed full of information and lessons to help on his pathway to a professional career in motorsport.
He was among the eight drivers selected for the intensive week that included another karting mate in Waikato’s Clay Osborne.
The Hawkes Bay teen is still passionate about karting, and the skills it provides both in and out of the kart.
“If you want to go into tarseal racing then you have to have the racecraft and development, so karting is where to learn all those skills,” he said.
“You learn how to race with a lot of people around you. You learn to be mentally good or you end up at the back. I have also learned media skills because we are always doing interviews or speaking at prizegivings.”
Bewley has national karting titles as NZ Rok Cup winner in 2018 and Vortex DVS Junior National Champion last year, while he has podiums in VMR and twice represented New Zealand at the Rok Cup Finals in Italy. He has been on the podium at nationals every year of his young karting career as well as national school honours, a Blossom champion along with multiple Goldstar titles in the key development series.
After an enterprising 2023 season in Toyota 86s, including a first round championship win at Highlands Park, he is crystal clear on his future.
“In three years I want to be racing in Australia in the Michelin Porsche Cup. I want to go down the Ryan Wood-route.”
Wood was a karting champion who impressed at Toyota 86, selected for Porsche New Zealand and Earl Bamber Motorsport, and is now signed up with Walkinshaw Andretti United in Super2 across the Tasman, with his sights set on Supercars.
“That’s where I want to be and that’s my goal.”
And follow in the footsteps of his idol Scott McLaughlin, who personally selected Bewley as a budding 11-year-old as the first recipient of his scholarship programme.
Bewley was thrilled to be selected for the recent Motorsport Academy, following in the footsteps of other karters including Sebastian Manson, Josh Bethune, Caleb Cross, Marcus Armstrong, Arie Hutton and Wood.
“It was a tough week. It got progressively harder as the week went on. The days were huge – we started at 5am and ended at 9pm. Everyone was friends which made it easier to get through the week. Everyone got on with eachother and we are all mates now.
“Mostly it was a focus outside of racing. We looked at health – your nutrition, how hard you can push yourself and how you look after yourself. We did V02 tests which showed how hard you can push yourself to the max. There was a lot of testing and a lot about what we put into our bodies.
“We also did a lot of work talking about our mental health and welfare. The mental side focussed on things like how to get focussed for a race weekend – getting in the right mindset for racing, be positive and have a good look at what you can do.
“We did some work on strength and conditioning with Alastair Wootten which was probably the hardest thing for me compared with some of the other bigger boys.
“It was good fun. I learned so much – probably one of the best weeks of my life.”
He is aware that the road ahead has plenty of challenges.
“Everyone at the Academy are talented drivers. You think you will go down there and do well, but there were seven other talented drivers around you who you want to beat. That was one of the hardest things – knowing I had to have that 110 percent mentality – not just 100 percent.”
Bewley got into karting after his older brother started but did not follow it through.
“I had not turned five and was probably only going 2kph around the track, but I loved it. And I have never looked back.”
He is indebted to his family, sponsors, and supporters for the opportunities.
“I have progressively improved and moved up the ranks, racing in Australia and I raced at the Rok Cup in Italy. Going overseas was a great way to develop my talent.
“I love the competition and how hard you must try if you want to be any good at this sport. If you are not trying your best, there’s no point.”
The year 11 pupil at Havelock BHS has gained help from his karting family and sponsors around him, while in the Bay he has leaned on legend Greg Murphy for direction while Australian broadcaster Greg Rust, who now lives in Hawkes Bay, has guided him in and around media.
“Greg has been a huge help to me. He has developed me a lot – making me better as a person.”
Tom is aiming high, but is focussed on his future behind the wheel, and thankful for the opportunities that karting has provided and will continue to provide.