Leonora Surtees: New Managing Director of Buckmore Park on John Surtees Legacy and Buckmore’s future back on track
Buckmore Park is not what you imagine when you think of a Karting Circuit. In April 2015 John Surtees, Formula 1 and seven time Motorcycling World Champion bought Buckmore Park with the dream of creating the look and feel of a mini Grand Prix circuit, a dream that was achieved through a multi million pound investment in the track and facilities.
Three years later, Buckmore Park is continuing to cement its place as the pinnacle of UK Karting, now under the leadership of the new Managing Director, Leonora Surtees; daughter of the late John Surtees.
Leonora, joined the business in February 2016, bringing a background in HR from retail giants Kurt Geiger and Tiffany & Co.
“To say joining Buckmore Park Karting Circuit was different would be an understatement. Dad asked me to join the business, predominantly to project manage the huge redevelopment project at that time, which also fitted my plans to leave large corporate business behind and understand the workings of a smaller business with the eventual aim of running my own business. It was still a shock to the system when I left my role at Tiffany & Co at The Shard on a Friday, and found myself in the Kentish countryside at Buckmore the following Monday morning. I have spent my life being surrounded by motorsport, but have not worked in the industry before, it has been a steep learning curve but I had one hell of a teacher in my father.”
After two years in the business, and after a heartbreaking year, Leonora has now taken on the role of Managing Director.
“Losing Dad last year was a total hammer blow to me personally, we had such a close relationship and spent so much time together. He was my greatest supporter and teacher and I don’t think I will ever get used to life without him.”
“Life does have to go on though, and I try and live by Dad’s example that hard work, focus and passion will get you where you want to be. My vision is to ensure Buckmore Park is one of the most successful motorsport venues in the UK. We are starting from a position of strength with a great heritage, and I want to ensure Buckmore is not just an incredible place to visit and race but also a great place to work.”
Improvements and developments continue apace; June 2018 has seen the delivery of a brand new fleet of state of the art Sodi RT8 karts, widely thought of as the best hire karts in the world. Buckmore still remains totally dedicated to John Surtees’ vision of being one of the best karting circuits in the world, and are forging ahead with a new advanced e-flag lighting system which will be installed this summer to ensure Buckmore Park is one the safest and most technologically advanced circuits in the world. All of this has one focus – to provide the best possible experience to everyone who drives and races at Buckmore Park.
Leonora commented on these continued improvements, “I think Dad would be proud that we are continuing with his vision, but he would expect nothing less than me to do it my own way. I am proud to have inherited his head strong nature and focus, but my background in business and HR means I am committed to ensure we build a sustainable business, that provides an excellent experience to our customers and an amazing place to work for our team.”
The future looks bright at Buckmore Park.