While it’s true that the world of professional motor racing is a tough one and difficult to break into, there are many opportunities for the novice car enthusiast to get behind the wheel and onto a track. The 10 tips in this article will show you how getting into motorsport — whether it be go-karting, endurance rallying or autocross — is a lot easier than you think.
First things first … join a motor club
If you’re going to enter the world of motorsports, then it’s a good idea to join a motor club. Club members enjoy all sorts of motoring benefits and discounts and are well placed to provide information on upcoming races, rallies, car shows and so on.
Advanced Driving School
You may think you’re a Lewis Hamilton in the making, but chances are you’ve got some basic skills to learn before you can safely power your ‘dream machine’ to its limits. Being a good driver at speed is all about driving skill, so before you feel the need for speed, work on your skills at your local advanced driving school.
Autocross racing is ideal to begin with. You don’t need masses of equipment and you can race a standard road car. All you need is a four-point race harness, fireproof overalls and an MSA-approved crash helmet. To race, you must be a motor club member and have an MSA competition licence.
Looking for something that’ll put a permanent smile on your face and have you all geared up and ready to go? Then you need to go ‘drifting’. If you love the excitement of the British Drift Championships and want to try drifting for yourself, there’s a dedicated drift track in Scotland, where you can get professional instruction to hone your sliding skills.
Does powering your way down backroads of dirt, mud and gravel sound like fun to you? Of course it does, and this is what rallying is all about. You can compete in most amateur rally events in your own car, but that could be a bit risky. Many racers look out for cheap, late-model cars which, with a few modifications, can get them started down the rallying road.
Car rallying is great fun but before you can compete you’ll need to have the following:
- a full DVLA driving licence
- an MSA Go Rallying starter pack
- a certificate to say you’ve passed the BARS course test
- a Rally National B Stage Competition Licence
If you intend to be the co-driver, you only need to apply for a Navigator’s licence and don’t need to pass the BARS course. Speak to members of your car club about the amateur rally opportunities locally and around the UK.
What type of rally car do I need?
You can race in any type of car as long as it’s taxed, insured and has a valid MOT certificate. In the case of Stage Rallies, your car will have to comply with the race organisers’ regulations, meaning modifying it to include special seats and harnesses, a roll cage, and fire extinguishers. Some people buy a second-hand car already modified, but if you prefer you can do the work to your own car yourself, or hire the services of a mechanic with car rally experience.
Here are just three UK rallying events that might be of interest to you:
- The XPart Rally
This is a day/night endurance rally for lightly-modified two-wheel drive cars. The engine capacity is limited to 1400cc petrol, and 2000cc naturally aspirated diesel. In the case of forced induction diesel engines built to the Endurance Road Rally formula, the limit is 1400cc.
- The Pure Rally UK London to Edinburgh
This race happens in April each year and the entry fee is very reasonable at just £300 per person. Enjoy the ultimate drive across the UK, starting in the West End of London, and driving for 3 crazy days to Cardiff, Manchester, and Edinburgh.
- The Pure Rally UK 2017 — Northern Car Rally
This great rally starts in London and takes you to Birmingham, Liverpool, and Newcastle.
Modern go kart racing provides a terrific thrill and is as close to ‘real’ racing as you can get. It’s a great arena to grow and fine-tune your driving skills, and entry is so much easier than for high-level racing. If you’re not ready to buy your own go kart, visit some competitive karting tracks near you to get a taste for the action.