A Basic Guide to getting started in Motor Racing.
The aim of this article is to lay out the basic information that you need to understand before you can start competing in Motor Sport events.
The controlling body for Motor Sport in the UK is the Motor Sports Association Ltd, who derive their authority from the FIA in Geneve. The FIA is the highest international body involved in the administration of Motor Sport.
All competitors need to obtain a Competition Licence from the Licencing department of the MSA. In order to start circuit racing you need to request a “Starter” pack from the MSA, which will include an application form and details of ARDS courses offered by various Racing Schools. It is necessary for all new Competition Racing Licence holders to attend and pass an ARDS course and the ARDS examiners will endorse a successful candidates Competition Licence application form. Those wishing to go karting or into speed events need a slightly different licence before they start competition.
The BARC’s own Thruxton Motorsport Centre offer ARDS courses, all of which take place at Thruxton Circuit. The instructors are all very knowledgeable and in the main are professional racing drivers of one sort or another so it is amazing how much they know. They will assess your capabilities, and advise you as to whether you are best suited to racing a saloon, sportscar or single-seater. However, we recognise that you may have already made up your mind!
All applications to the MSA for a Racing License have to be accompanied by a Medical Report and most Family Doctors will complete the form (supplied in the Starter Pack) for a small fee.
The MSA may be contacted on 01753 765000, by visiting their website on www.msauk.org or alternatively, you can write to them at:
The Motor Sports Association Ltd.
Motor Sports House
Once you are in possession of a Competition Licence you need to become a member of an MSA recognised motor club such as the British Automobile Racing Club. Click here to visit our Membership page, where you can fill in an on-line membership application form.
If you intend to compete in races organised by the BARC (as opposed to Speed events such as hillclimbs or sprints), you will need to become a full Racing Member. If you only intend competing in BARC organised Speed events, ordinary Club membership will suffice, together with an appropriate Centre membership.
Buying a car or renting a drive :
Once you have gained your licence, you are ready to take the next step, and decide which Championship or Series to join.
There are over 100 different Championships in the UK, administered by dozens of different organisations or clubs. For most of them, you will need to buy and race-prepare a car or join a professional team who both provide and maintain your car on a contractural agreement. In the main, such teams only operate in the more professional single-seater formula, such as Formula Renault. This can be a very expensive way of starting, but if you are young and have set your sights on the likes of Formula One, it is one of the only ways to get there.
When you have made your choice, you can obtain a set of Championship Regulations, from which you will discover whether you also need to join the Club that is organising the Championship etc. These regulations will also tell you the procedures for entering a race meeting and what you are allowed to do to the car to make it more competitive.
As one of the oldest and largest of the motor racing clubs in the UK, the British Automobile Racing Club Ltd. is the sole organiser or joint organiser of some 35 different championships, series or challenges. Regulations are changed each year to coincide with improvements in technology and safety, or changes to the different venues that the competitions visit. Most Race Championships have twelve rounds spaced between March and October, and appear annually at most of the recognised racing circuits in the UK.
The British Automobile Racing Club organise race meetings at the following venues :-
- THRUXTON near Andover, Hampshire
- PEMBREY near Llanelli, South Wales
- BRANDS HATCH near Dartford, Kent
- SNETTERTON near Norwich, Norfolk
- OULTON PARK near Tarporley, Cheshire
- CADWELL PARK near Louth, Lincolnshire
- SILVERSTONE near Towcester, Northamptonshire
- DONINGTON PARK near Castle Donington, Derbyshire
- MALLORY PARK near Hinckley, Leicestershire
- CROFT near Catterick, North Yorkshire
- ROCKINGHAM near Corby, Northamptonshire
- GOODWOOD near Chichester, West Sussex
- ANGLESEY, North Wales
- LYDDEN HILL near Canterbury, Kent
- CASTLE COMBE near Chippenham, Wiltshire
Some rounds of BARC Championships take place at Circuits both in the UK and Europe which are not under the direct control of the BARC. On these occasions other motor clubs host the visit although a BARC representative is usually also in attendance.
It is very difficult for us to quantify the costs of you becoming a racing driver as the frequency at which you compete or the degree of technical sophistication you wish to attain will have a very significant impact on your overall costs.
However, you should recognise that you will incur costs in all of the following areas :-
- ARDS course and competition licence, £250
- Personal equipment (overalls, helmet etc), £750
- Purchase of a suitable car (depending on the Championship you wish to enter), £3,000 – ???
- Car preparation or Team agreement, £???
- Purchase of a suitable electronic transponder for race timing purposes, £200
- Annual Club membership, £110
- Annual Subsidiary Club membership, depending on the Championship, £0 to £200
- Annual Championship Registration fee, £0 to £4,500+
- Race entry fees, per race, £180 to £350+
- Transport costs to/from each race meeting (using a trailer or transporter etc), £250+
- Accommodation at race meetings, hotels, food etc., £50 – ???
No-one has ever claimed that motor racing is cheap!!