He’ll be taking over his own car, a vehicle which he earned the money to pay for it by getting up at 6am every morning for the past couple of years to go help a farmer with
the milking of his dairy herd.
“It was really tough going but it had to be done," says Ben, adding, “Because I really wanted that car.”
Ben is 16. The car cost £10,000. Car drifting is a growing sport – the fastest growing car sport in the world, according to some –where the driver uses throttle, brakes, clutch, gear shifting and steering input to keep the car in a condition of constant oversteer. Well, that’s how Google says it’s done. Ben, keeping it simple, says it’s basically keeping the foot down and steering as fast as you can.
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The noise, the speed, the squeal of the brakes, the excitement of it all has him totally hooked. Young Rogers’ love of motor vehicles began when, he says, he was eight and bought an old quad. He explained: “Every penny I had went into buying that. It was great fun. I loved it. I sold it a couple of years later and bought a Lexus for £1,200. And then in the past couple of years I bought and sold a couple of other cars before I saw this Nissan which is a great car. But it cost ten grand. There was no question of the money being handed to him on a plate.
“My parents said that if I wanted it I would have to pay for it myself. So, I got up every morning seven days a week, 365 days a year and helped milk the cows. I have been doing that for a couple of years now. My father also said if I did the MOT car washes at his garage he would pay me for each one. So, I did that too. I saved every penny I earned, and I bought nothing for myself. “
That sort of single-minded dedication has totally impressed Jim McKeever, the man behind the Cruise Centre, at Eglinton, where Ben is a member. He says the fact that a lad of 16 worked so hard for so long to earn this kind of money is a clear indication of his determination to succeed. Jim, a former Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, is also looking to up the profile of the centre which he says is a much-needed project in the area.
“It’s a young driver road safety project which I got up and running in 2010 to get young people into a safe environment. I saw too much dodgy stuff on the public roads.
“From the age of 10 the kids can come along here and are taught practical driving and road safety. Even if they only come for one hour a month from they are 10 until they sit their ‘L’ test at 17, they’ll have 96 hours of practical driving. Our motto, which we drill into our young folk, is simple: Keep the racing for the track not for the roads. If they do that, we’ll all be safer on the road.”
When asked what’s his long-term goal in the sport Ben is unsure. There’s not really that many opportunities at the top except for the select few.
“Some of the American guys are multi-millionaires but there’s not a lot of career opportunities to go full time professional over here. I am just enjoying myself. If I get the higher licence that allows me to compete at ‘Pro 2’ level, and if I get through that, you can then go professional. But that’s down the track a bit yet.
Is this sport expensive?
Jim McKeever again: “It’s not cheap. For instance, taking Ben to Driftland in Dunfermline, the only purpose-built drifting track in the UK, this weekend will cost between £1,500 and £1,800 so that’s a lot of money. Anyone out there willing to provide a bit of sponsorship would be most welcome, believe me.
And he concluded: “But Ben’s got real talent and we want to see how far he can get in this sport. I think he can go all the way.”