So You Want To Go Racing?
Since I started racing cars, one of the most common things I have been asked is simply – ‘How do you get into this?’
I remember when I was asking the same question. The internet offers part of the answer, but there are many things that prospective competitors are left worried about, which often leads to people not bothering to have a go. I am going to focus on circuit racing in cars here, but other forms of motorsport are broadly the same.
The task list you can find all over the internet goes like this:
- Get a Racing Licence
- Get some protective gear
- Choose a Series
- Buy/Rent a race car
While this list is completely valid and true, it misses out a fair few steps/points that I and many other competitors take. So in no particular order, here are my 5 points the internet doesn’t really tell you about to get on your way….
Trackdays and Arrive and Drive Karting require no race licence, no equipment (a car for a trackday…) and let you really get a taste of whether motorsport is for you. I did not do a huge amount of karting when younger, but what I did do made me very hungry to go and try my hand in cars. Trackdays are an excellent, accessible and relatively cheap way to get out there and learn proper car control, learn the fantastic range of circuits the UK has to offer and prepare for your ARDS (race licence) test.
2. Do things gradually
If like me, you don’t have an enormous budget, there is no problem taking small steps. I did track days for a year, bought a helmet, did some more trackdays, started preparing a car, bought my suit…..you don’t have to do it all at once, and it helps stagger the cost. Speaking of cost….
This is the big issue and barrier to entering motorsport that most people see, and almost always the next question after ‘How do you get into this?’ is ‘How do you afford this?’
My major argument with motorsport compared to other sports and hobbies is that motorsport does not hide its cost. When I go racing people see a shiny(ish) car, lots of special safety equipment, tyres, fuel, tools and then cars coming back crash damaged, cameras, dataloggers…you get the picture. Expense is everywhere. But let me draw a comparison with another passion of mine, which people never ask me about in terms of cost – cycling. When you add up a bike or two, clothing, GPS, maintenance, tyres, travelling to 7 competitive races a year (to give the parallel with motorsport) you will find it soon adds up to a surprisingly high figure. While money is of course an issue, it shouldn’t be as much of a barrier as it is. It doesn’t stop people doing other expensive things. Budget properly and carefully, and do what you can afford. A more detailed post on money will come…..
4. Recruit passionate friends
Whether you are on your own or paying a team to support you, there is nothing more valuable on a race weekend than some passionate friends to help you out. Making others part of your motorsport journey, everything from going karting, to track days, to prepping the car and supporting you on your race weekends, there is nothing better than doing it with friends. Treat them well and let them get as involved as you can – racing isn’t just exciting for the drivers. Its a team sport and as an amateur your team will most likely be your friends and family.
5. Go to club race weekends
Every weekend in the UK there are races going on that aren’t massively publicised, these are the proper grassroots meets where you will be starting your career. The major thing I did not do before racing was go to a club weekend. Nothing gives you a better feel than going to see the drivers and teams in the series you want to race in, talk to them, learn the venues and watch some great action, all for the fraction of the cost of going to watch a professional level event. The club I race with (750 Motor Club) offer a vast array of different formulae over a weekend and the level of racing is fantastic. There are also several other motor clubs in the UK offering great racing – BRSCC, MSVR….all worth a google and all listed on the MSA website (the governing body of the sport in the UK).
Fancy coming to a club weekend? Got questions about Civic Cup? If you want to know more drop us a message on the Facebook page (Facebook.com/motorsportessentials).