THOUSANDS of youngsters experience the thrill of powering round a track at the wheel of a little speed machine, trying out outwit their opponents and setting their sights set on being a future Lewis Hamilton.

But for Devon Giles kart racing is so much more. It has brought him confidence and a social life.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Picture: Mark Hall

It is thought the six-year-old has autism and ADHD. He’s currently being assessed for it. But the challenges of communicating with other people melt away when it’s just him and the machine.

His fascination with the sport started when mum Sam took him to Swindon Karting Centre.

“He really struggles at school, he has bad separation anxiety.”

At school there are lots of different competing noises for him to process, from a clock ticking to pupils talking and shouting. Karting is dominated by one sound – the noise of the engine.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Picture: Mark Hall

They used to go to the Wroughton facility so he could relax. “Because it is just him and the kart, he doesn’t have to talk to anyone. It is amazing for him.”

Devon’s first proper race outing was in August after lockdown had eased. It was a real introduction to the joy and disappointment competitive sport can bring. He dropped from fourth to 10th place after his clutch broke. It could have triggered a meltdown. But he held it together and even though he and his mum were unable to replace it, in the next heat he was able to reverse the situation.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

The karting has brought mum and son closer. “It is just our thing that we do now,” said Sam. “He is just so proud of himself now every time he comes off the track whether it’s practice or a race. There’s a smile on his face.”

Grandad Dave Walsh helps with the mechanics and the pair have had encouragement from people all over the karting world.

And even though he's only really been in the sport for five months thanks to the lockdown, Devon, who takes Jenson Button for his inspiration, has ambition. He hopes to move up from Bambino classes, which cater for drivers aged six to eight, to the Super One series.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

But as far as Sam is concerned he's already a winner. "His concentration levels are amazing - normally they're shocking and his social skills have developed tenfold because of the opportunity to be with like-minded children."

Kart racing is very competitive and parents of young drivers often have to make a substantial financial commitment if they want to support them.

Even used karting equipment can set them back £2,500 or more and with helmets, boots and racing suits added on, the costs will mount. Then there are the entry fees for races.

Most Bambino class karts have 50cc engines with a top speed of about 38mph. New ones can cost around £1,900 according to the Association of British Kart Clubs.

The Royal Wootton Bassett youngster's machine is secondhand and he's still in search of a replacement clutch for it.

But he has learned how it works and how it needs to be set up to handle different weather conditions on the track, just like the Formula One drivers he hopes to emulate.

Race meets are also spread around the country. Devon, who this week earned his Motorsport UK racing licence, has already competed at tracks in Daventry, Shennington in Oxfordshire and Lydd in Kent.

He's hoping to take part in a couple of championships next year.

Like many youngsters who take the sport seriously he is looking out for sponsorship from local businesses.

If you'd like to follow Devon's racing exploits or offer help and sponsorship you can visit his facebook page for more.