They say the best way to succeed at a sport is to start young - 11-year-old Hasely Crawford just may well be the proof in the pudding.
After only two years behind the wheel competitively, the young boy racer has already snatched up a vast amount of go karting championships and titles north and south of the border.
Starting off on a McClaren F1 pedal go-kart, which he received as a Christmas present at the age of five, Hasely has always had a hankering to get his foot on the gas.
He’s been a massive fan of motorsports, especially Formula 1, from an early age.
Amongst his idols are Northern Ireland’s rallying sensation, Kris Meeke, F1 legend Eddie Irvine and current world champion, Lewis Hamilton, who he hopes to replicate, and better, some day.
After climbing into his first petrol go kart at the age of six and quickly learning his way around the basics of handling a go kart, the Ebrington PS pupil was all set to conquer on the main stage.
In his first year racing, Hasely placed sixth in the NIKA (North of Ireland Karting Association) championship and earned himself the title of best newcomer.
He also won the prestigious ‘Rookie of the year’ at the Coleraine and District motor club awards, following in the footsteps of a little known motorcycle racer who goes by the name Michael Dunlop.
He may still be considered a ‘rookie’ but this year the young go-karter’s performances speak for themselves.
Racing across the north and south of Ireland, he battled his way up to second in the lame cadet class in the NIKA championship and secured a fourth place finish in the Ulster Championship.
In his travels south of the border, Hasely has raced at a number of tracks including Castlepollard (Westmeath), Edgeworths Town (Longford) and Whiteriver Park (Louth).
On top of his Northern championships, he scooped up first place in the prized open cadet class category at Tullyallen.
Recently Hasely took on the mammoth challenge of competing in eight separate races in one day.
Racing five times in Antrim and finishing in third place before driving all the way to Longford to finish first place in his first ‘floodlit’ race.
Of course, it would be impossible to achieve such feats without a dedicated crew by your side, and Hasely has just that in the form of proud parents and cheerleaders Graeme and Dawn.
“He’s being doing very well so far and he’s definitely enjoying himself which is what it’s all about,” said his father and roadie Graeme.
As he’s a bit young yet to be driving himself, it’s up to dad Graeme to chauffeur the young champ the length and breadth of the country from track to track.
Some very early mornings and late nights are part and parcel of racing in the big leagues.
The future motor-star has also benefited from a lot of sponsorship from local businesses, which he, mum Dawn and dad Graeme, are very thankful for.
Sponsorship is always welcome from anyone interested in backing the local lad.
For the upcoming season in March, the pair have their eyes focused towards some tracks and competitions further afield with a possible trip across the water lined up.
A move up in class could also be on the cards for the young racer in the not too distance future.
Hasely could potentially enter at a junior level next year, meaning he’d be competing at speeds of up to 85mph.
Once he hits his teens he could then be looking to get behind the steering wheel of his first rally car.
His father knows his son still has a long way to go.
“He’s serving his apprenticeship for the meantime.”
And although only 11, the young champ could teach some seasoned sportsmen a few valuable lessons.
Even after his most recent title win in Tullyallen, Hasely didn’t take to school bragging about it.
In fact, his teachers at Ebrington PS had no idea of latest exploits until dad Graeme told them so.
Modesty is such a great trait in a champion.