Young Greek Australian racer James Lodge has been given the opportunity to compete in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Championship (TGRA 86) later this year.
James can compete against 33 of the best young drivers in the country, on the same weekend as the Supercars, live on Foxtel and Kayo, meaning massive exposure.
Now after years of funding him through go karting and two years of motor racing, his family are reaching out to the community to help him on his pathway to becoming a super car driver.
His mother Chrisoula, whose parents come from Sparti and Epirus, told Neos Kosmos that she is hoping that someone can assist her son pursue his dream.
“As a parent, when you realise your child is totally driven with passion, commitment and natural ability/skill for a particular field, you want to do everything in your power to provide as many opportunities for them to be able to fulfil their dream,” she said.
As mentioned earlier, James’ family has supported him all the way, but the pathway of a racing car driver can be expensive.
“It would be absolutely heartbreaking if we are unable to provide him with the chance to fulfil his dream and demonstrate what he can do.”
This dream begun when James went to his first Formula 1 Grand Prix at five-years-old and from that point on he developed a strong interest in motorsports of all forms, from F1 to Motocross.
Spending much of his early childhood reading books and watching documentaries on the history of motorsport, he always aspired to be the next Australian F1 driver.
Then in 2016, at 11-years-old, James began karting when he convinced his parents to buy a second-hand go-kart so he can drive it on the track on weekends.
From that point on he discovered his talent, eventually moving on to compete in championship races
After a successful first year in the Australian Kart Championship, his team thought he was ready to be promoted to the premier junior category, KA2, against seasoned racers up to four years older than him, and who had started racing at a much younger age.
Many thought this would be too difficult for James given his inexperience, but with just two years of racing under his belt, he stepped up to the KA2 class.
Proving the doubters wrong, he scored three outright victories and 10 podium finishes.
In 2019 James took the next step in his racing journey, competing in the WSK Euro Series in Italy.
Out of 70 world best competitors, many of which have since progressed to high levels of open wheel racing in Europe, he finished with a P17.
Next came along two unforeseen circumstances that would derail James’ racing, but would not keep him off track.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw everything stop, including racing. James was selected to drive his go kart at the Australian Grand Prix, which also included a four-day Pit Pass.
“He was ecstatic, up until they were waiting at the gate to enter and they were then told the Grand Prix was cancelled. He was absolutely heart broken,” Chrisoula said.
Lockdowns in Victoria meant he couldn’t race, while his interstate competition in Queensland, South Australia and NSW continued, with some even now racing overseas.
After returning to racing, he set his focus on the 2021 championship, but he would suffer a major injury in a karting accident at practice, putting him out of action for three months.
He would return and bounce back to qualify second, won the race and took out the Metro Series title.
2022 saw him elevated to the highest level and then move onto racing cars, and in his very first race in a car, he qualified fifth out of 55 racers to finish P6 in Victoria.
More success has followed since, and last November at the SpeedSeries and TCR World Tour round at Sydney Motorsport Park – he secured: pole position, won four out of five races and set a new lap record.
With the early success this young Greek Aussie boy has had, his family do not want to see his journey and dream end by not being able to compete at the Toyota 86.
To get in touch with James and his family, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0419879803.