Pole Position is driving young talent to the top: Here’s how
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Pole Position’s Ryan Trutch on how he aims to drive the region’s young talent to the finishing line

Pole Position’s Ryan Trutch on how he aims to drive the region’s young talent to the finishing line

The company is introducing Greenpower in the UAE to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) education

Kudakwashe Muzoriwa
Pole Position’s Ryan Trutch on how he is nurturing young talent

You have been in the industry for four decades. What changes have noticed in the motorsport industry, especially in the region, throughout your career?

Back in 1981, I was a young boy attending the Dubai Grand Prix with my father. We made a habit of attending rallies where the current FIA President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, often competed and won consistently. Since then, I’ve participated in nearly every motorsport discipline in the UAE. While the region now boasts glamorous racing circuits, progress in facilities has outpaced that of motorsport culture and participation. While I‘ve been instrumental in creating some karting programmes to get schools and children involved in the sport over the past 15 years, we need to do more at the grassroots level to boost participation.

With the new emerging trends in motorsport. How do you see the sport shaping up in the region?

The popularity of Formula 1 has skyrocketed worldwide, prompting the GCC region to see investment in F1 circuits as imperative for boosting tourism. Currently, Oman and Kuwait are the only GCC countries absent from the F1 calendar, but this could change soon. F1 has also influenced youngsters who aspire to join the motorsport industry, although entry barriers exist. However, these barriers will likely diminish over time. Saudi Arabia, which boasts a young demographic, will experience the most significant growth in motorsport participation.

GCC countries are investing heavily in motorsport. How is this contributing to economic growth in the region?  

The impact of motorsport on economic growth is tremendous. Hosting an F1 race, for instance, stimulates consumer spending and generates new opportunities in the secondary sectors of the economy. This translates to approximately $3-5bn in value for the local economy. The GCC region hosts four F1 races, the Dakar Rally, Extreme E, Formula E, and many other motorsports IPs, resulting in significant economic stimulation across a broad range of supporting sectors, as well as new jobs created.

Read: On the fast track with Saudi Arabia’s first professional female racing driver

Would you please tell us more about the inspiration behind Pole Position?

I’ve owned my own business since 1997, but left it behind to secure a steady job at one of the GCC’s renowned race circuits. I thoroughly enjoyed developing grassroots programmes and introducing children to karting. Witnessing their development and growth in the sport was incredibly fulfilling. I felt disheartened when my ideas to expand motorsport could not be accommodated. So I decided to return to running my business. My passion is to develop our IPs and enhance local participation at grassroots level. I want to foster local talent and produce more Emirati racing drivers who can eventually make it to the top level in motorsport, including Formula 1. But to achieve this, we need kids making an early entry into motorsport.

Pole Position is partnering with local academic institutions to nurture the next generation of motorsport and electric vehicle engineers. Could you please elaborate more about this initiative?

We’re introducing Greenpower, a STEM learning programme for schools, to the UAE. This programme, which has over 15,000 students in 12 countries worldwide, promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) education. We’re delighted that GEMS has expressed interest in incorporating this programme into 43 schools in the UAE.

What is Pole Position’s strategy? Are you scouting for talent or you are a training institution? 

We act as the enabler in collaboration with schools, who will act as the training providers. We’ll oversee the programme’s implementation in all schools to ensure it’s delivered with excellent STEM learning opportunities. Ultimately, the programme will produce talented individuals who will be well-equipped to engineer the cars of tomorrow or pursue other careers in motorsport. We firmly believe that this programme provides an excellent foundation for anyone’s career.

Why motorsport? How is the programme being received by parents and academic institutions in the country?

Motorsport ignites young people’s passion for science and engineering. Greenpower challenges them to construct, design, and race an electric car, which will aid in bridging the STEM skills gap. This programme encourages participation in motorsport, while also fostering a passion for engineering. We’ve already received positive feedback from parents eager to fund an EV kart kit for their children’s own school. They recognize the STEM and team-building benefits, as well as the potential career pathways.

What are the target groups for the programme and how much does it cost?

GreenPower provides kart kits to three different age groups: 9-11, 11-16, and 16-25.  Each kit has varying levels of complexity, with aerodynamic design playing a more significant role in the older age brackets. We’ll be starting with the middle age group, and plan to expand to other age groups in the future. The cost of the kits varies, but there is no expense to the schools or children. This project is solely supported by our sponsors’ corporate social responsibility and environmental social governance initiatives. It’s an excellent way to give back to the younger generation and equip them with the skills to engineer better and greener solutions.

Read: On the fast track: How Yas Marina Circuit prepares for F1

Do you see Pole Position taking the initiative to other schools in the UAE or across the GCC region?

Our goal is to broaden the reach of the programme throughout the GCC, and we aim to engage in discussions with education ministries throughout the region to ensure that all schools have equal access to the programme. Anyone interested in providing their school or children with the opportunity to benefit from the programme is welcome to contact us.

Esports rose to prominence at the high of the pandemic as it generated newfound attention for competitive gaming. Is it game over for the industry post-pandemic?

Not at all. Esports racing, or Emotorsports, has become the latest low-barrier form of motorsport. It’s easily accessible, safe, and affordable, and you can put your racing gloves on at any time of the day or night and race on any track around the world. Digital motorsport centres are popping up everywhere.

Motorsport has always evolved with technology, and it will continue to do so. While it may be the end for gas-powered race cars, which is sad for those who love their sound and smell, technology will undoubtedly take motorsport to new heights. In 30 years, I believe the only place where we will hear the roar of a petrol-powered race car is in the digital realm.

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