GET ON TRACK
My on-track debut was in a Mk3 MX-5 2.0 Sport that doubled as my Dad’s daily driver and a track car. We had it boosted by BBR GTI who installed their Super 200 package bringing it up to 205bhp. That takes it to around 6 seconds 0-60. But we also needed stopping power and some cornering enhancements. Upgraded discs, pads (don’t ask me about EBC YellowStuff…) and braided brake lines added the stopping power. Traklite Gear 17” x 7.5” rims and Kumho Ecsta KU39 rubber added some grip in the bends.
Track days at Bedford Autodrome were the start of the learning curve. Bedford is a great rack to get started. Plenty of runoff and not a lot to hit. Just give the cars in front plenty of space and drive within your limits.
GET AN INSTRUCTOR
The more instruction you get, the faster you will drive. You can’t master the art of car control from YouTube videos, although I’ve watched plenty. I invested in instruction -a full day’s “Drifting & Over Grip Limit Handling Course” under the instruction of Colin Hoad at the Millbrook Proving Ground in a Caterham 7. Some car control days in our newly acquired MX-5 with MoT Trackdays at Rockingham helped. And A full day on track in an MX-5 competition car, coached by Brian Chandler of BC Motorsports, convinced me that the track was the place to be.
GET A RACING LICENCE
You’ll need a National B Competition Licence before you enter a Championship series. It’s provided by the sport’s governing body, the Motorsport Association (MSA), and is recognised throughout the UK. It includes both academic and practical assessments.
You’ll need to get an MSA starter pack which includes the application form and the “educational” DVD. Next, an ARDS test. I booked mine at Brands Hatch with MSV. I invested in an hour on track with an instructor, before the test, as the test car was an unfamiliar front wheel drive Peugeot.
The test itself is fairly straightforward. A written session followed an on-track assessment. Provided you drive within your limits and don’t do anything dumb, you’ll pass.
You’ll also need to pass a medical. My NHS GP wanted to charge me £100 for this five minute medical. An MSA approved doctor who I booked online cost me just £45.
Once all your forms have been submitted, you should get your race license back within a week or so.
GET A CAR
I bought an ex-Championship car for £3,900. I’ve probably spent another £2,000 with AB Motorsport on bringing it up to race specification. At the end of the race season, there are usually a few cars available on eBay going for around the £4k to £6k mark. Or you have the option of buying a relatively rust free Mk1 (I think that’s an oxymoron?) for around a £1,000, and spending the rest of your cash to turn it into a race car.
All the cars in the race series are basic Mk1s with very few modifications allowed. The intention is to keep the costs down and ensure that it’s the drivers that make the difference not the cars.
GET THE GEAR
You’ll need more than your Dad’s cotton crochet backed leather driving gloves and a pair of overalls. The “what to wear when you go racing” bit gets a bit pricey. Helmet, Hans device, race suit, race boots, gloves, flameproof undies etc etc. It all adds up. A pre-season trip to the AutoSport International show got me sorted and was a good place to go to get a discounted package price from Demon Tweeks.
GET SOME SPONSORS
Don’t imagine that sponsors are going to come knocking on the door to fund your racing. Getting sponsorship is not easy. First stop… friends, relatives, business contacts… it’s who you know that’s important. Why not sponsor me?
WHAT DOES IT COST?
Motorsport isn’t cheap…. find out what it is going to cost.