A PROFOUNDLY deaf kart racer returned to the track in the best possible way after winning the final round of the National Super One Championships at Shennington Race Circuit near Banbury.

Caleb McDuff, 12, saw his season cut drastically short due to the coronavirus and a crash in the opening race of the series which left him with a dislocated shoulder and damaged ribs.

However, the youngster bounced back to finish on the top step of the podium in just his second race since being promoted to the Mini Max class, and with the shortened season, ended up finishing third in the championship.


Following his win, Caleb, from Pontypool, was invited to race for the M-Sport Kart Racing Team at the annual Super One ‘O Plate’ race at the Rowrah Kart Circuit in Cumbria on Sunday, where he was crowned the 2020 O Plate champion.

The Cwmbran High School pupil suffered from chronic ear infections aged two, leaving him profoundly deaf – meaning he is unable to hear most sounds.

When he was four, he was surgically implanted with cochlear implants, an electronic device that allows him to receive a simulated sense of hearing.

However, he has to remove the outer parts of the devices to wear his crash helmet, meaning he races in complete silence, relying on using vibrations to feel his kart and engine.

With the change to the more powerful Mini Max karts, Caleb has had to learn how to drive the faster and heavier kart.

South Wales Argus:

Caleb McDuff, 12, racing in the final round of the National Super One Championships at Shennington Race Circuit. Picture: Ian McDuff.

Caleb’s Dad, Ian McDuff, said: “We are incredibly proud of Caleb and his achievements. He has always shown strength and determination on the track, when his disability places him at obvious disadvantages.

“He has to feel for changes in vibrations of the engine, and limits of grip through the chassis. Now he has changed class of kart and engine, he is learning all that again.”

Mr McDuff said the coronavirus pandemic had also brought further challenges for Caleb this season.

“Our race budget has pretty much gone for this year,” he said. “Understandably businesses are cutting right back on unnecessary spending whilst there is still uncertainty. Due to this, Caleb has lost all of his sponsorship for the foreseeable future.

“He has been fortunate to race for teams over the past few years, and M-Sport were very good to have Caleb drive for them at Rowrah with a full time place available, and for that we are very grateful, but for now we are back to ‘Dad and Lad’ until I am hopefully able to secure funding for him sometime in the future.

“That said, his current pace without a big budget is testament to his exceptional ability.”