Time to explode a myth: you don’t need to have anything like the talent – or wallet – of Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button to go circuit racing.
More than 300 race events take place in the UK every year, catering for an array of different cars ranging from hatchbacks, saloons, sports cars and GTs to purpose-built single-seaters and even trucks. They also cater for a wide range of budgets, so you can still hit the track even if you are limited to a few thousand pounds for a car and a season's racing.
How does Circuit Racing work?
A number of cars race wheel-to-wheel on a race track. The winner is the first competitor to reach the chequered flag, which falls once the designated number of race laps has been completed.
Most meetings comprise practise sessions, qualifying and at least one race. Qualifying is the session that decides which position the competitors will start the race from. First place on the grid, usually awarded to the driver who sets the fastest lap in qualifying, is known as pole position.
How do I start?
Before you start, go to some race meetings and chat with some of the competitors in the paddock. Most will be happy to talk about their sport and this will help you to decide which type of racing you’d like to have a go at.
You then need to pass an ARDS test, and the examiner must stamp your licence form. If you are over 18 you will also need a GP to complete the medical section of the form.
You will then be ready to send off your application for a Race National B Competition Licence, but bear in mind that you must normally be at least 16 years old to compete (information on junior competing is available here).
You’ll also need to join the motor club that organises the event or championship that you want to compete in, and register as a driver.
What kind of car do I need?
It depends on which type of racing you want to do, so ideally choose your championship first and your car second. If, for example, you choose the BRSCC Ford Fiesta Championship, you will need a Fiesta, whereas if you go for 750MC Mighty Minis you’re going to need a Mini.
The key point is that whatever car you buy must comply with the regulations. A scrutineer will check your car on-event for compliance and if it doesn’t comply, you won’t be allowed to compete. Make sure you talk to other competitors too; you might decide you want to go straight in and buy a car, or you may prefer to hire a car which you run yourself or hire a car and pay a team to run it for you. There are plenty of options, so make sure you do your research.
What equipment do I need?
You will need safety equipment such as a helmet, Frontal Head Restraint device, fireproof overalls and underwear, boots and gloves, all of which must comply with MSA regulations.
Remember that it is the competitor's responsibility to ensure that their vehicle and equipment comply with both the MSA's General Regulations (detailed in the MSA Yearbook) and the Supplementary Regulations (SRs) of the event or championship.
If you have any questions about vehicles or equipment you can speak to a member of the MSA Technical Department by calling 01753 765 000.