Racing puts Bury teen in pole position to deal with ADHD issues

An aspiring teenage racing driver, who lives with ADHD and anxiety, has signed to race with a newly formed racing team.

13-year-old Joel Ryan, who is currently in year 9 at Woodhey High School in Ramsbottom, has signed for Team X-Kart, a new team formed to race in the Italian ‘TB Kart’ go-kart, recently re-branded as X-Kart and introduced in the UK.

Joel was diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety when he was just nine, but discovered a love of motorsport after a support worker at his school suggested he tried karting which had helped her son previously. He tried out racing at TeamKarting in Rochdale and was soon hooked on the sport.

It quickly became clear that Joel had a talent for racing and in 2018 his parents bought him his first used kart.

Last year saw his first year of racing, competing in the National Kart Championships, where he finished mid-table in his debut year. He has also raced at Teeside and in charity events across the country.

Joel was asked by X-Kart founder and owner of Rochdale’s TeamKarting, Matty Street, to test out for X-Kart last year and has now been offered a place in the team. This year, he’ll race for Team X-Kart in the Junior Kart Championship and Whilton Mill Championship. Joel’s stepdad Rob, a fellow motorsport fan, said racing had brought a the positive impact to the whole family.

He said: “We noticed early on that Joel struggled in social situations which meant he struggled to participate in team sports like football and was becoming disruptive at school.

"We eventually received his diagnosis of anxiety and ADHD and it was coincidental that this led to his introduction to karting through his counsellor.

“I can honestly say I think it changed his and our lives. Karting is his release, it focuses his mind and gives him a break from some of the struggles he deals with. When he started karting, he was taking regular medication, now he takes none. It’s transformed him and he’s like a different child.

“Many of his teammates and karting friends have autism or ADHD so they understand each other. It’s great seeing them with such a great sense of camaraderie, and the knock-on effects have been great for his performance at school and his overall confidence.”

Joel added: “I’m really excited about the year ahead with X-Kart. It was great to be invited to join the team and I hope that I can push for some podium finishes.

“Racing has become such a big part of my life. My ultimate dream is to be an F1 racer so I’ll be working hard to get as fast as I can.”