DRIVING AMBITION

Driving-Ambition650
In 2004 Simone Schehtman moved away from London, relocated her go-karting business to Birmingham and, shortly afterwards, started a family. But her plans are bigger than that.

Let’s start with the go-karts. Teamworks Karting operates out of 50,000 sq ft in Fazeley Street, about half a mile from the Bull Ring, and provides a roaringly good time for anyone looking to unleash their inner Lewis Hamilton. From mates and dates to stag nights and high-end corporate dos, the eco-friendly carts will give your evening some welly while keeping you firmly a friend of the earth.

But why did Simone move all this away from London?

Well, much is made of the capital being only for the rich these days and only any fun if you’re stacked with cash and a wealthy legal or finance bod. As it happens, Simone and her partner, Michael, were one of those successful trader and lawyer couples but, rather than being enjoyable, London was occurring as a daily endurance test; long hours, stuffed tube trains and large corporate institutions are no respecter of anyone’s bank – or life – balance.

Deciding to end that particular weekly grind – “I wanted my day to be about people smiling, rather than just earning lots of money” – they used their experience and reputations to raise some funds, took a lease on a site close to London’s Liverpool Street station and opened Teamworks Karting in 1999. An immediate success, they found favour with the large contingent of nearby financial and legal firms, but the growth and constant creep of the City eventually swallowed up the Teamworks site. Finally deciding enough was enough, Simone and Michael took the plunge; London was out, and Birmingham was in.

“Had the London track not closed we wouldn’t have relocated, but really it was the best thing that could have happened. London prices itself out of the market both financially and emotionally, but the affordability of property up here is sensational; I could swing a cat in a 1 bedroom flat in London for £750,000, or, for less than that, have a detached mansion or lovely penthouse on a canal in Birmingham.”

Do you miss the culture in the capital? “If you live in North West London you simply don’t rush down to the West End every evening; you squeeze it in on a Saturday and get a babysitter. There’s far more chance for spontaneity in Brum, with lots of hidden and less publicised things happening, and less pressure to book tickets 3 years in advance for a concert. Life is just easier.”

So what about those bigger plans? As a member of the Jewish community, Simone is on something of a mission to encourage more young Jewish people to move to Birmingham, and also to retain those already here instead of losing them to places like London and Manchester. “There’s a small, tight and intimate Jewish community in Birmingham, only about 5,000, and aging. If younger people are not there then it’s hard for the community to have any sort of hubbub.”

That’s quite a challenge for anyone to set themselves, but with Simone in the driving seat – and Birmingham’s big push to increase the city’s appeal as a place to live and work – one senses victory in the air.

Teamworks Karting
202 Fazeley Street
B5 5SE
teamworkskarting.com