January 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Lewis Hamilton: First Black Formula One Racer

My knowledge of auto racing is very limited. Occasionally, I watch a NASCAR race on television. I enjoyed Tom Cruise in that movie, 'Days of Thunder'. My kids watched the animated flick, 'Cars' with me earlier this week.

The closest that I've come to Formula One racing is Sylvester Stallone's move, 'Driven'. I seem to recall that these cars used to race in Detroit for a number of years when I lived there. What I didn't know was that there had never been a Black Formula One racer in history. Not until this year.

Not until Lewis Hamilton ... who was born on this date in 1985.

Rookie McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton made history on June 10, 2007 when he won the Canadian Grand Prix for the first victory of his Formula One career.

Britain's Hamilton, also the sport's first black driver, started from pole position and held on to become the first rookie to win an F1 race since 2001. Hamilton is no one-race wonder. It turns out that he has finished in the top three of all six races this season -- something no other racer has done. He took the lead in drivers' standings over teammate Fernando Alonso, the two-time defending world champion.
"When I first started watching Formula One, I was six or seven years old," Hamilton said. "I looked at that and I thought that's something special and something I might be able to do."
From a modest family in England, with a white mother and a black father, Lewis began racing go-karts at age 8 with a go-kart purchased by his father. He went on to win the McLaren Mercedes Champions of the Future series and at age 10 he met Ron Dennis, the owner and director of the McLaren Formula 1 team and told him he wanted to race in F1. At 13 years old McLaren signed Lewis to its young drivers program and supported his career through karting and car racing, signing him as a full-time F1 driver for the 2007 season.

While some may see him as the racing equivalent of Tiger Woods, as a Black man about to break out in a sport long dominated by whites, his parents actually named him after Carl Lewis, the Olympic gold medalist in sprinting and long jump.
"It sounds pretty cool. People have been saying it for a long time," Hamilton said. "But I'm not Tiger Woods. I'm Lewis Hamilton.
Villagers, what is your take on Lewis Hamilton?

9 comments:

Danielle said...

I think the more we view achievement beyond color more barriers will be torn down. If Barak Obama wins it should be because of his achievement, integrity and potential as our leader. Tiger Woods is the best because he is the best. Due to the past struggle counting firsts declares an end to that barrier. Hamilton will continue being successful due to his efforts, thankfully not suppressed.
Thank you so much for your kind words on my TT, I responded deeper there.

As always...

Villager said...

Danielle - Asante sana for your thoughts and your continued encouragement.

peace, Villager

Latimer Williams said...

It just goes to show the power of people of color when given the opportunity.


We excel in everything when we set our minds to it. That's why it's so fustratiing when some of our people do not put their best foot foward.

I know we have limitless potential within us.

Anonymous said...

All well and good except that Lewis Hamilton is biracial and personally does not subscribe to the One Drop Rule. He considers himself to be British and Biracial. Nonethelss, he IS a person of color, one who is allowed to self-identify anyway he pleases.

cooljazzcafe

Villager said...

CoolJazzCafe - You may be right. I've never heard of the young brother until yesterday. However, there is no question that he would be classified as 'Black' or as a person of African descent by anyone. We're not talking 'one drop'. We're talking 'Black'. Just like Tiger. Just like Obama. Both of whom are also have white parents. Our history clearly shows that bi-racial children are never treated as white by society ... they are always treated as 'Black' ... which is why most bi-racial children seek to learn more about the African-centered part of their history.

peace, Villager

Rosemarie said...

We're all about cars and racing here. NASCAR was speaking about Lewis and his interracial background in comparison to Obama. The white commentators spoke about how this could be the beginning of change. Go Lewis!

Villager said...

Rosemarie - I think that the commentators in your area have a point. It began with Tiger ... continues with Obama and Lewis. Perhaps bi-racial brothers and sisters will help those of us on either side of the racial divide figure out better ways to communicate and co-exist with one another. Time will tell...

peace, Villager

Joe said...

I am astonished. I thought the guy was a race car driver. Yet every comment about him is about his "race!"

Villager said...

Joe - Lewis is a remarkable race car driver. He won the world championship last year ... and he was on television yesterday winning his first race of 2009...