Motorsport in the UK


Mike Foster-Isaacs our events co-ordinator/designer has kindly supplied this brief guide to motorsport in the UK.

RALLYING

The most popular form of motor sport in Britain, if you ignore the nicking of car stereos. Two people work together, one a driver and the other a navigator or co-driver. The idea is to complete a course as quickly as possible, unlike on family holidays where a mum/dad navigator/driver combination aims to destroy all holiday spirit at the earliest opportunity. There are two main types, both highly competitive: road rallies and special stage rallies. The former take place on public roads at night, with great emphasis placed on navigational skills. The latter - like the Network Q RAC Rally - place the burden on car preparation, speed and driver ability. For the enthusiastic amateur, there are a number of schools who will take you and an instructor for a thrilling day behind the wheel of a genuine, rally-equipped car. Not cheap, but a truly great day out.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

ROAD RALLIES - STANDARD ROAD CAR; TWO CREW MEMBERS WITH CLUB MEMBERSHIP CARDS; ORDNANCE SURVEY MAPS.

SPECIAL STAGE RALLIES - CAR WITH ADDED SAFETY EQUIPMENT (ROLLCAGE, FIRE EXTINGUISHER, FIREPROOFING); RACMSA LOG BOOK; TWO CREW MEMBERS WITH VALID CLUB MEMBERSHIP CARDS; CRASH HELMETS; FLAME-RESISTANT OVERALLS.

RALLY SCHOOLS - CASH, BOTTLE AND A BOOKING FORM. WHERE YOU CAN DO IT:

ROAD RALLIES - THROUGHOUT THE UK ON PUBLIC ROADS VIA CLUB COMPETITIONS.

SPECIAL STAGE RALLIES - GENERALLY ON PRIVATE OR FORESTRY COMMISSION ROADS.

RALLY SCHOOLS - INCLUDE BILL GWYNNE RALLY SCHOOL, TURWESTON AERODROME, BRACKLEY (01280 705570); SILVERSTONE RALLY SCHOOL, SILVERSTONE (01327 857413); RALLY SCHOOL, BRANDS HATCH (0990 125 250). WHO YOU SHOULD CONTACT: AS ABOVE, OR THE RAC MOTOR SPORTS ASSOCIATION (01753 681736).

KARTING

Remember the flash kid at school who had his own go-kart? Hated though he was, he was also the focus of much jealousy. Banish those bitter memories by going karting yourself. You won't need any skills apart from those your driving instructor has already given you, and it's one of the most easily accessible and cost-effective forms of racing fun you can have. What's more, most commercial kart tracks have come a long way since the dirty, dangerous circuits of yesterday, so it's well worth hunting out your nearest venue. And if the sole point of passing your driving test was to start on the road to becoming a Grand Prix driver, competitive karting is your next logical step. Coulthard, Senna, Prost and Schumacher all began on karts, although there is no record of whether Schumi developed his Ben Hur-style driving manners here as well. To the uninitiated all karts look the same, but there are many classes, ranging from 60cc cadets to 160mph Formula Es. Only those of utterly excessive weight or height are prohibited.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

FOR THE FUN SEEKER - YOUR CHEQUEBOOK. FOR COMPETITION - A KART COMPLYING WITH RACMSA REGULATIONS; CRASH HELMET (f50-350); FLAME RESISTANT OVERALLS (f50-300); RACMSA COMPETITION LICENCE; MEDICAL CERTIFICATE.

WHERE YOU CAN DO IT:

THERE ARE KARTING CIRCUITS ACROSS THE UK. WHO YOU SHOULD CONTACT: ASSOCIATION OF BRITISH KART CLUBS (01926 812177); NATIONAL KART RACING ASSOCIATION (01305 774074).

CAR RACING

Obviously many of the events listed here technically qualify as 'car racing'. We're talking here about racing at club level. Each year there are over 200 meetings across the country for all types of cars, offering championships based on region, individual circuits, makes and types of car. Times may have changed since the days a young buck in his open-top motor could whisk his lady-friend to Thruxton for an afternoon's jousting with plucky rivals out on the circuit, but this sport follows that noble tradition. It is still possible to race a car which you have driven to the circuit.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

RACMSA RACING LICENCE; MEDICAL CERTIFICATE;ONE DAY COURSE FOR NOVICE DRIVERS ACCREDITED BY ASSOCIATION OF RACING DRIVERS SCHOOLS; CARWITH ADDED SAFETY EQUIPMENT (ROLLCAGE FIRE EXTINGUISHER, FIREPROOFING); CRASH HELMET; FLAMERESISTANT OVERALLS.

WHERE YOU CAN DO IT:

AT ALL THE PERMANENT CIRCUITS ACROSS THE UK, INCLUDING BRANDS HATCH, SILVERSTONE, MALLORY PARK, DONINGTON, KNOCKHILL, OULTON PARK, PEMBREY, THRUXTON, SNETTERTON AND KIRKISTOWN. WHO YOU SHOULD CONTACT: EITHER YOUR LOCAL CIRCUIT OR THE BRITISH AUTOMOBILE RACING CLUB (01264 772696), OR THE BRITISH RACING AND SPORTS CAR CLUB (01474 874445).

MARSHALLING

The crème de la crème of motor sport, this is only suitable for those with nerves of steel who are willing to be chased by foxy members of the opposite sex. Yeah, right. You're volunteering your spare time away so that some flash harry can thrash their car around a course in the right direction, covering you with mud as they race by. If standing in a field waving different colored flags appeals to you, get marshalling. Otherwise fight those urges and do something more interesting instead, like counting the leaves in a teabag.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

LIMITED NUMBER OF FRIENDS; HIGH BOREDOM THRESHOLD; DEARTH OF HOBBIES/THINGS TO DO AT WEEKENDS. WHEREYOU CAN DO IT: AT ALMOST ANY MOTOR SPORT EVENT IN THE UK.

WHO YOU SHOULD CONTACT:

BRITISH MOTOR RACING MARSHALLS CLUB (0161 839 9000); BRITISH RALLY MARSHALLS CLUB (01749 345633).

HOW TO GET A RACE LICENCE

To compete in officially recognised motor sport, you'll need the right sort of license. Your first step should be to contact your local club via the RAC Motor Sports Association (01753 681 736). They can send you a useful book/Starting Motor Sport', and will advise you on the exact licence you require. Most beginners will need only a Clubman or National B licence. Seeing as you've passed your road test already, these won't cause you any sleepless nights.

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