Motor sport can be dangerous. It is therefore vital that you accept responsibility for your personal safety and take all reasonable steps to minimise the risks to yourself and others.
Picture a competition driver and you will most likely visualise a helmet, overalls, gloves and boots.
However, not just any helmet, overalls, gloves or boots will do; depending on the type of motor sport you are competing in, they must bear the correct ‘standard’ label, indicating that their design has been tested and approved for use in UK motor sport.
They must also be in good condition; for example a cracked helmet will not be acceptable, whether or not it bears the correct standard label.
Which items require a 'standard' depends on the type of motor sport. For example in circuit racing the helmet, overalls, gloves and boots all need to carry a standard label, whereas in rallying only the helmet and overalls do.
General regulations in the MSA Yearbook detail which ‘standards’ are required for which bits of kit in the different disciplines.
The general advice is always to buy the best safety equipment you can afford - why would you scrimp on something that is designed to protect you and possibly save your life? Please also consider additional items that might not be mandatory, but that offer a significantly enhanced level of protection, such as Frontal Head Restraint systems (often referred to as HANS devices).
Just like your kit has to meet certain standards, so does your vehicle. Again, the MSA Yearbook and the SRs of the championship or event will detail all minimum requirements for competing vehicles, covering areas such as – but not limited to – roll over protection systems, seats, harnesses and fire extinguishers.
Attempting to cut corners with kit and vehicles is not only ill-advised from a safety point of view, but it is also likely to land you in varying degrees of hot water with event officials.
All events have scrutineers on hand to check that competitors’ kit and vehicles appear to comply with all the relevant regulations before they hit the track or stage, and some events also run post-event eligibility scrutineering.
If a scrutineer finds a safety-related problem with your kit or vehicle, such as a helmet with the wrong standard label or a fire extinguisher that is not connected properly, he or she may allow you to rectify it and present the item again for further scrutineering.
If an eligibility issue is uncovered, such as an engine with greater capacity than the regulations allow for, the scrutineer will submit a report to the Clerk of the Course, who will then decide what action to take. In more serious cases this could be exclusion from the event.
Please remember that Scrutineering is not something to 'get through' - the process involves a brief inspection of your car and kit to ensure compliance with the regulations. It does not certify that everything is 'safe'; it is the responsibility of every competitor to take all necessary precautions to keep themselves and their fellow competitors as safe as possible.