Rochdale young achiever turns his life around through go-karting

Date published: 31 December 2023

Zak Bowker, a determined 21-year-old from Rochdale, has battled ADHD, Autism, and numerous medical challenges to pursue a career in go-karting, with the young man now hitting new heights of national sponsorship deals and Sky TV appearances.

Diagnosed at an early age, Zak faced significant health setbacks, including surgeries and extended hospital stays.

Despite sporadic race seasons, Zak's resilience and love for go-karting provided him solace amidst daily challenges.

Born in 2002, Zak’s life took a challenging turn when he was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD. At age seven, he transitioned to a specialised needs school, which better suited his learning requirements.

Unfortunately, more significant events hit him when, at the age of 13, Zak fell seriously ill, necessitating multiple surgeries, treatments, and extended hospital stays, with his longest stay extending to six months in July 2020.

Zak endured the removal of his large intestine and most of his small intestine as part of his medical journey.

During this time, Zak’s first couple of go-karting seasons were very sporadic; he would be around for race weekend, miss a few, and then back to it again. Zak expected to fall behind during this time due to the inconsistency but much to his surprise, he got back onto the track like he had never been away.

Living with Autism and ADHD, Zak faces daily challenges related to social interactions, communication difficulties, and sensory sensitivities, which can make seemingly simple tasks a monumental challenge. Amidst these obstacles, go-karting emerged as Zak's lifeline.

Zak said: “When I take to the track, all the barriers that life has thrown my way seem to vanish. I become a picture of confidence, fearlessness, and unwavering focus.”

Zak's journey into go-karting was significantly influenced by his late grandad, Paddy Byrne, a seasoned racer in Brisca F1 stock cars and various other racing formulas from the mid-60s to the late 80s. Paddy's passion and racing expertise ignited Zak's own love for the sport. Zak's go-karting journey began with his grandad taking him at the age of 12 to his first indoor karting session at TeamKarting in Rochdale, where Paddy recognised Zak's natural talent.

Paddy's support remained steadfast as Zak transitioned from indoor sessions to outdoor racing at the age of 17.

Zak said: “My grandad’s valuable experience and guidance were instrumental in my development as a racer, I am thrilled that I have inherited his racing talent.”

Zak's journey has garnered the support of several sponsors, including Sports Nutrition brand SCI-MX, Marquis Logistics Solutions Ltd, GBE UK Ltd, Mercaid Manchester Ltd, Planet Eclipse, and LFB Motorsport.

When asked how he trains and prepares for his races, Zak said: “It’s all quite straightforward; I enjoy the gym and snowboarding and would do those anyway, so that helps. Mentally I love karting, I get in and drive, it feels natural. 

“My new team, JC Motorsport, are helping to develop my driving. We always do practice day the day before, and we work hard on skill development and kart setup.

“Everyone wants to win, that’s why we race. But there are battles all over the track, everyone is racing each other, if you’re battling for the lead, that’s great, but if you’re battling for ninth or tenth, that’s great. I enjoy racing, and I’m delighted if I win on the track, whatever position that may be.

“Yes, I want to win the race, but I try not to get too stressed over results and just enjoy the experience.”

In the upcoming racing season, Zak will compete with JC Motorsport in the exciting new Indikart series at Hooton Park. Selected rounds of this series will be live streamed on the day by TDi media and subsequently broadcast on Sky TV and Sportystuff, solidifying Zak's status as the next JC Motorsports star.

Zak ended: “You need focus and determination for go-karting, a dash of fearlessness, and a pinch of common sense to discern between daring moves that are achievable and totally dangerous ones. Be ready to read a situation almost before it happens and respond. Consistency is key. Take ownership of your actions, learn from your mistakes, and maintain a cool, calm, and collected demeanour.

“I hope that by sharing my story and sharing how I have become stronger from my adversity; I hope it inspires others. I celebrate my uniqueness, and I hope others will, too.”

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