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Go-karting enthusiast organises 10th anniversary race in honour of his friend

Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ TeamModel Build Manager, Dan Underhill, and Lead Design Engineer, Matt Allnut, set up the race to raise money for leukaemia research at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), in London.

Group photo of go-karters at a Paul Lee-Davis race

Image: Group of go-karters at a previous Paul Lee-Davis race. Credit: Dan Underhill

Aston Martin Formula 1 Team Model Build Manager Dan Underhill is rallying together the racing community for a go-karting charity race to mark 10 years since his ‘motorsport mad’ friend, Paul Lee-Davis, passed away from leukaemia.

Dan met Paul in 2009, when they raced in the same karting championship at Club100.

“Club100 was a really good club, and Paul was always at the events. Even when he was ill, and had told his wife he wouldn’t race anymore, he still turned up. He was motorsport mad, and was truly in his element when he was out there competing on the track.

“Paul and I became friends because he was a really friendly guy. He wanted to speak to everyone, and he made a real effort to make everyone new to the club feel welcome – which included me.”

In 2011, Paul died of T-cell prolymphocytic leukaemia, a rare form of leukaemia.

'He was so full of life'

Paul Lee-Davis in a race suit

“I wanted to do something after Paul died, and this just made sense," Dan said. "When I first started running the event, 10 years ago, everyone wanted to be a part of it, because everyone knew Paul back then, and everyone liked him.

“He was so fun-loving, and so full of life. Now, we have a lot of newer competitors – but so many people have been affected by cancer, so everyone is really keen to support such a good cause.”

Dan has hosted a number of charity go-karting tournaments in Paul’s memory over the years. The 10th anniversary ‘ICRPLD22’ event will take place on 17 April at Whilton Mill, Daventry, and raise funds for our research.

Image: Paul Lee-Davis. Credit: Janet Lee

The race is done in a sprint format, with all drivers getting three heats, and then all drivers will face it off in final races. The highest placed drivers will then race in the final. 

The race is open to anyone, and Dan wants to encourage people of all abilities to enter.

“Previous winners have included Jake Dennis, Formula E race winner and former Red Bull F1 test driver,” said Dan, “but one year, my partner’s 70-year-old father had a go, and he’d never sat in a kart before. Absolutely anyone can enter. It will be a really fun day, and all the money raised is going to a great cause.”

Our scientists have led research into understanding the biology of leukaemia and other blood cancers and discovered genetic variants linked to risk. All the money raised at the event will go to support the ICR’s research into T-cell prolymphocytic leukaemia, the rare form of leukaemia that Paul passed away from in 2011.

'For every turn they make, they’re helping to do a good turn for so many others'

Robin Plowman, Supporter Events Manager at the ICR, London, said: “So much of the progress we’ve made against cancer is possible because of the support we receive from people like Dan, and we’re really grateful that he has continued to fundraise for us over the years.

“Knowing that we can help people like Paul is what drives our scientists to work hard every day. I want to wish good luck to everyone taking part in the race, and we hope that each of the karters knows that, for every turn they make, they’re helping to do a good turn for so many others.”

Make a donation 

To find out how to set up your own event, please contact Robin Plowman: robin.plowman@icr.ac.uk

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