Ben Caisley is an Engineering Apprentice at Newcastle College, who is ranked no.4 in both the UK and European circuits for Radical Racing. This year he's competing in the Hegarty Radical Cup, some olf which will be shown on ITV4. Check out Ben's racing profile at https://www.dwracing.co.uk/the-team/ben-caisley/
We spoke to Ben about his experience at Newcastle College, and how studying an apprenticeship alongside his competitive career has shaped his passion for motorsports.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I was born in Ashington, raised in Rothbury, and studied my GCSEs and A-Levels at King Edward’s high school in Morpeth, and then I came to Newcastle College for my apprenticeship this year. Throughout my life, I’ve competed in a lot of different sports, but for the last five years, since I started karting, motorsports have been my main focus.
How did you hear about Newcastle College?
I have a friend who started their Level 3 course at Newcastle College last year, and they always talked about their course and their tutors. Once I'd expressed interest in coming here, my manager got in touch with the College to secure my place on an apprenticeship.
Why did you choose to study an apprenticeship here?
I always wanted to do an apprenticeship instead of university, since I'm more of a hands-on learner so I’d rather be out working than constantly studying. I also like the freedom that comes with doing an apprenticeship. I'd considered attending the motorsport college in Loughborough, but the great reports of the teaching and support at Newcastle College convinced me to apply here. I’m so glad I made that call - I haven't regretted my decision one bit!
Is racing something that runs in the family, or is it an interest you’ve cultivated yourself?
My dad raced in Formula Palma Audi. He would do some autotrack racing, which means he would race Land Rovers. He actually used to sponsor one of the companies who now sponsor me, so our stories have come full-circle! It was through one of his sponsorships that I first got into the motorsport paddock, which is when it really clicked that racing was what I wanted to do. The lifestyle’s not too bad either – I once spent a week in Yas Marina, an Abu Dhabi racing track, doing homework in Lewis Hamilton's villa! It was quite an experience.
How long have you been associated with Radical Racing, and what is it?
I started Radical Racing in October 2021 at a championship race. Radical Racing is a prototype development car, like a roofless, closed-wheel Formula One car. My Radical vehicle has a 1300cc motorbike engine, which produces 182 brake horsepower, and my personal top speed is 141mph when I raced on the Formula One track in Portugal as part of a European Championship circuit.
Can you tell me a bit about your experience studying at Newcastle College?
It’s been a good experience! All my tutors are very experienced, and make each lesson interesting and unique while explaining the essential points well, which is reassuring to me from a qualifications and career viewpoint. We have dedicated computer suites and labs to practice and train in, and the overall atmosphere of the college is really relaxed.
How have Newcastle College and your apprenticeship employer supported you and catered to your racing commitments?
My teachers at Newcastle College, and my apprenticeship manager, have been great at supporting my pretty hectic timetable. I’ve had a lot of conversations with all of them about how much time I can commit around my races and training, and they’ve been able to grant me time off, or organise deadline extensions on homework and projects. It’s a fantastic level of care and provision that I'm so grateful to receive.
What do you enjoy the most about your apprenticeship?
I really enjoy professional networking. We visit different businesses and facilities, each with different requirements and goals, which has opened my eyes to the varied life skills I can gain from apprenticeships. Speaking personally, cliché as this might sound, helping others really appeals to me. Through my apprenticeship, I’ve been able to do work that’s helped the NHS, vets, and schools, so I'm proud that my work has benefitted other people.
Do you see yourself continuing to race as a career?
I want to be picked up by some big sponsors who can fund my long-term racing career. Hopefully, I’ll move up the ladder of Radical vehicles into some bigger, faster cars such as a Porsche GC3, and enter endurance championships like Le Mans. I love endurance races, I'm always watching them on TV, and I've been lucky enough to race on some famous endurance tracks, which has been a great experience!
What are your top five tips for studying at Newcastle College?
- Make sure you put the work in – you only get out what you put in.
- Never be afraid to ask questions – if someone else knows more about a topic than you, learn from them.
- Be sociable – it doesn’t just help making friends, but also building strong relationships with your teachers.
- Always try to apply what you learn – the best way to ingrain the knowledge you pick up in classes is to apply it with the skills you’ll pick up from your apprenticeship.
- Try to have fun – juggling work and classes can be intense sometimes, but there’s always a chance to have a laugh with people too, so be serious about your work, but don’t be overly serious in your attitude.
Thinking about applying for an apprenticeship? Find out more