BECOME A RACING DRIVER
Motorsport Academy isn’t just a name that we thought up. We pride ourselves with our ability to educate and pass the torch on to illuminate the joys of taking motorsport further for all of our guests.
Where else could you find full support from a team of seasoned race technicians, a performance workshop, storage and top notch race instructors with a private circuit with for testing last minute suspension & geometry changes before your upcoming race event? With our Motorsport Academy you will have the extra competitive edge, you’ll feel confident – man & machine every turn of the way.
Start Racing Guide
If you’re prevaricating about competing in your first race, our advice is simple: do it.
There will be moments of pure joy, moments of genuine fear, moments of stress & anxiety only fit for a best man’s speech, but these will be the days that stay with you forever.
Asides from the huge amounts of fun along the way, you’ll come out with a bunch of new friends but be warned this past-time is as expensive as it is addictive and you’ll be left thinking how can I come up with the funds to continue.. So you have to be realistic and smart with your game plan. The ethos behind racing can carry explosive marketing potential for businesses so sponsorship opportunities may make racing become a worthwhile investment. On the other hand if you’re after a career as professional driver, then racing experience is crucial and race schools like us need to see this experience from our instructors too, same applies for stuntmen on Hollywood film sets, it’s all about the work you put into it..
The question is where do I start? There’s so much choice out there so you first need to decide which discipline? Racing, Rallying, Drifting or another art.
Then think about your ultimate goals, are you aiming to compete at a professional level or are you looking for the ultimate hobby? Perhaps one day you have the Ferrari Challenge or BTCC in mind, or are you aspiring to become the next British Drift Champion? Perhaps you’re a Junior and want to fast track your motorsport career in the Ginetta Junior series? All these championships have their own feeder series and often there’s a clear path of progression but choose something you’re willing to put a lot of money into and get all excited about.
Every driver will have their own goals and preferences on what kind of Motorsport discipline and style of competing they wish to participate in, be it single-seaters, saloon cars, sports cars, GTs or even endurance racing.
Take the time to look at what every championship you’re interested in consists of, including the cars eligible to compete, the circuits they visit, and indeed documents like entry fee forms and regulations.
Once you’ve made a choice on what you’d like to race in, you should get in touch with the championship co-ordinator who is always the first point of call for any series. Their role is to oversee their respective championship and ensure it runs as smoothly as possible while maintaining a connection and line of communication with the organising club. They will be the one on the ground talking to teams, drivers, sponsors and suppliers on a regular basis, so it’s worth giving them a call first when you’re ready to make that first step. They will help answer any questions you might have and welcome you aboard.
Driftlimits Recommended Championships:
Race / Rally
Deciding the best approach in terms of obtaining and running a car comes entirely down to personal choice. Generally at a hobbyist level most will choose to buy a car and run it themselves independently. Others will look at what established teams and outfits within the championship can do to help them along, be it assisting them in preparing a pre-bought car, building and running a car or full-on arrive and drive services with everything prepared for the driver.
We advise that you speak to as many teams as possible to gain an understanding of what they can offer you and how much it will cost. You don’t want to just sign up with the first team that you come across only later to find that perhaps they weren’t the best fit for you. Consider cost, location, services and how approachable they are to want to work with you, alot of this boils down to gut instinct too.
Driftlimits Motorsport Academy Services:
Full Race support with a team of technicians.
Circuit hire & preparation in your competition vehicle or our fleet of vehicles.
Please get in touch for a conversation of what your aiming for and we’ll see if we can help.
You can find some cracking deals on used race, rally and drift cars here:
Alternatively, our friendly Performance Garage www.driftlimitsperformance.co.uk can knock you up a fresh build from scratch. It usually pays to buy the car outright in racing, some teams offer fully inclusive drives and various different packages but this tends to be far more costly in the long run, however it can be a good way of testing the water before committing to a full race season.
Your race car will be required to comply with all points found in section Q of the Motorsport UK Yearbook, which you will have received in digital format in your Go Racing Pack. You must ensure that you have a current and up to date version of the Motorsport UK Yearbook as a new one is released at the beginning of every year containing updates. This set of requirements is the absolute minimum that your car will require; these points are checked at scrutineering and if any fail to comply, it is up to you as a competitor to ensure they do so, otherwise you risk being refused to take part in the race weekend.
In addition to the Motorsport UK regulations, every championship will have its own set of technical and sporting regulations which all competitors within it must fully comply with. Of course, requirements vary depending on which championship you compete in and every single one is different in some way. It is up to you as a competitor to ensure that you have read through the regulations thoroughly and carefully enough to make sure you do not contravene any of them and that you understand them fully. If you are found at any point during a race weekend to have broken a regulation, you will be penalised by the senior clerk of the course as they see fit and in accordance with the sporting and Motorsport UK regulations.
In most cases, before you can race you’ll need a license. The Motor Sport Association (MSA) website says: “Some licence grades can be purchased ‘off the shelf’. However, for the Race, Rally and Kart (excluding Clubman/Tyro) disciplines you will first need to buy a Starter Pack from the MSA online shop which will only take a few days to arrive in the post. In the pack you’ll find an application form, a CD containing a digital version of the Motorsport UK Yearbook, an instructional DVD and a booklet detailing what steps to take next.
Along with completing your application form, you will also need to complete and pass a medical examination, which can be completed by your doctor.
The next thing you must do before sending the application is to book and attend a test put on by the Association of Racing Driver Schools (more commonly known as an ARDS test) or BARS (Rally) or ARKS (Kart) license test. An ARDS test can be taken at just about any UK circuit venue, but if you’re unsure of where to go to take yours, you can visit the ARDS website to look at when and where the next upcoming test days are taking place. Once you’ve found a venue and booked a date, you’ll need to attend and make your way through a two part examination. One half will be a written test of your knowledge gained from the Go Racing pack you received, while the other part will see you on track with an instructor to test your capabilities behind the wheel.
The licenses are provided by Motorsport UK, which is Britain’s governing body for motorsport. No driver can take to the race track on a competitive race weekend or test day without one, so this should be the first task you cross off your list once you have decided which car and championship you wish to pursue.
Should you be deemed to have passed both sections of the test and your application is signed off, you can then submit it to Motorsport UK who in return, providing everything submitted is to their satisfaction, will send you your very own Interclub racing licence. In which case, congratulations – you’re officially a racing driver!
Once you have your licence in hand, the next task to take on is purchasing and obtaining the appropriate equipment needed in order for you to race. In terms of the basics, this is what’s required as the bare minimum to allow you to take part in a race weekend:
- Race Helmet – Every competitor will need a SNELL or FIA verified and approved helmet, which is always checked by a scrutineer at every race meeting you compete in. Any helmet bought from new can be used for 10 years from when they were first homologated.
- Race Suit – An FIA approved race suit is critical – all of them are made of fireproof materials, however each brand will develop theirs differently depending on size, design and comfort levels.
- Gloves – These come in a range of different brands, designs, colours and sizes depending on personal preference and comfort.
- Boots – Just like the gloves, race boots are key to ensure a comfortable driving experience while still providing appropriate levels of grip and feel on the pedals when accelerating and braking.
- HANS Device or Frontal Head Restraint – This is vital to ensure that in the event of an accident, your head and neck stay secure and safe to prevent any form of injury as much as possible. There are options of using either a full HANS device, an adjustable harness or a hybrid system developed by companies such as Simpson. Whichever you choose, safety in a race car shouldn’t be compromised, so we recommend using one of these devices whenever you’re out on track.
- Fireproof Underwear – This acts as a second layer of sorts and is worn underneath your race suit. While it isn’t mandatory to wear it, it is another element we strongly advise you purchase.
These should be the essentials that you take with you every single time you head to a race track, be it a test day or a race weekend. You would need this especially if you arrange to test with any cars ahead of deciding what to race and who to race with for the upcoming season and beyond.
Book trackdays at iconic racetracks around the UK to perfect technique and memorise the racing line faultlessly for each round of your championship. This will provide an opportunity to get comfortable with your new helmet and gear, car and settle the nerves before raceday. Find a great racing coach which can help considerably reduce lap times, we can put you in touch with a member of our instruction team who can guide you every turn of the way. Our team are up for travelling with you if you’re after a companion on a long road trip. If you like the instruction style given you can keep the same instructor for consistency and you’re also welcome to train privately at our home Driftlimit’s circuits. Here we can make mistakes. catch some slides loose some slides, really understand weight transfer, lines and drafting. We can really go above and beyond what is acceptable at a normal trackday as you would pose a danger to other drivers around you. You can even work alongside our race support team for testing back to back suspension changes to give you that extra edge come raceday!
Most permitted championship requires all drivers to be racing members of the club. In most instances you will not be allowed to race without a valid membership. Usually club membership is renewed annually, sometimes a temporary “weekend” guest racing membership is available to any driver competing in a one-off round throughout the season. Most memberships are paid separately to your registration fee.
With your race gear, licence and car all in place, now you need to register for your chosen championship. Most clubs open registrations for a championship once the regulations have been approved and signed off by Motorsport UK, and a registration form will then become available to complete and submit. It is important that every competitor fills out a registration form regardless if they’re competing in their first or tenth season in the championship, as the club requires up to date information on its competitors throughout the season each year.
To enter a race for most championships, you can either contact the club’s office by phone or e-mail, or you can use the online entry system to book yourself in for race entry.
Race entries must be paid and completed before the cut-off point, which is two weeks prior to your chosen race event. You will receive confirmation e-mails when you book in to your next race and also when payment is confirmed. Furthermore, you will also receive a final instructions e-mail containing all the relevant key documents you’ll need for the weekend ahead. This e-mail generally consists of:
- The event timetable
- A supplementary regulations document
- A final instructions document
- An entry list detailing which championships are in attendance and which cars and drivers are set to compete in each
On occasion, additional meeting specific documents may be attached when and where necessary. You must make sure that you have read and understood all of the documents attached in the Final Instructions e-mail, to ensure you are aware of what to expect for the upcoming race weekend.
Tickets are released and sent out once race entry payment has been confirmed and not before. Tickets will either come in a traditional paper format in the post, or via e-mail for certain circuits. It is important to make sure that you keep your tickets safe and that in the case of e-mail tickets, you must print them out prior to leaving for the circuit.
First of all, check the final instructions documents to find out when and where access into the circuit is permitted. Each circuit will have a different access time and it will also depend on whether or not you will be testing on the Friday before the meeting.
You will also find within the final instructions information and guidelines on how to use the pit and paddock areas, such as where to park private cars, engine/ noise pollution, general paddock and pit lane rules, support vehicles and use of paddock vehicles and tail lifts. Please make sure that you read, remember and adhere to these guidelines, otherwise you may find yourself reported to the clerk of the course for contravening any of them.
Within your final instructions document, you will also find a paddock plan which details which part of the venue your championship will be setting up. If your championship is fortunate enough to have been allocated use of the circuit garages, there will also be an additional garage plan either within the same document, or sent separately by your championship co-ordinator, letting you know exactly which garage you have been allocated and where to set up.
It is also useful to let your championship co-ordinator know what kind of vehicle you will be turning up in if transporting your race car yourself or arriving with a team, be it either a conventional or box trailer, a van or an articulated lorry and transporter. Providing this information ahead of time will make it easier for the organisers and co-ordinators to plan out who goes where for the weekend.
Before you can do anything else, the first thing you’ll need to complete is a visit to the location which permits you to sign on for the race weekend. You can find the location and times for signing on within your final instructions document. Here, your race licence will be checked to ensure it is valid, however there may be the odd occasion where you might find yourself without your racing licence if you’ve sent it to Motorsport UK to be upgraded. If so, don’t worry – you can request a letter from Motorsport UK to confirm that you are indeed a valid licence holder and that it is in the process of being upgraded.
Remember to bring your ‘upgrade card’ with you – this is important if you’re to ensure that you can gain and record signatures towards a higher grade of licence, which will eventually allow you to race bigger and faster cars and compete in higher profile championships.
You must also sign the signing on sheet next to your name as an agreement to the declarations to Motorsport UK stated at the top of the document. Your upgrade card will also be looked after by the race admin personnel, so make sure you remember to pick it up before you leave the circuit once racing his been completed. If you happen to forget, any upgrade cards left behind are sent back to their respective competitors a few days after the race weekend has been completed.
One of the first things you’ll do when the race weekend gets underway is have your car scrutineered. Normally, this is scheduled to happen early on Saturday morning, however a number of competitors do choose to have their cars scrutineered on the Friday afternoon if it’s available.
Scrutineering is simply the process that all cars go through to ensure they comply with both the Motorsport UK and championship technical regulations. The car is given a thorough inspection by a qualified scrutineer, whose job it is to make sure that your car passes on every respective technical front required in order to be deemed safe and legal to race.
As mentioned above, in the eventuality that a scrutineer finds something wrong or something which contravenes a regulation, be it with your car or indeed your racing equipment such as your helmet or overalls, it will be up to you as the driver to ensure that they can fix the contravention before the race weekend gets underway, otherwise you may be going home early!
If everything passes the scrutineering stage, you’ll receive a sticker on your car to certify that it eligible and legal to compete in the weekend ahead. It’s a good idea, however, to ensure that you check your car and racing equipment before the race meeting to make sure that you’re not heading to the circuit with any risk of being caught out.
The last thing to be conducted on your car will be a noise test, to ensure that your car complies with the noise restrictions present at each specific circuit. This is normally conducted just before your car heads into the assembly area for its first on-track session of the race weekend. If your car fails this noise test and is deemed too loud, it is your responsibility to make the appropriate and legal modifications to ensure your car complies with the circuit restrictions. Otherwise, you will not be allowed on circuit until this is fixed.
Before any of the competing championships are allowed to race, all of their respective drivers must complete a drivers’ briefing with a clerk of the course. Sometimes, this can be held either before or after qualifying and it is compulsory for every driver to attend. Failure to attend could result in a driver being fined and even penalized, so it’s vital you make an appearance and show up on time.
The clerk of the course conducting the briefing will go through the standard procedures of the race weekend and point out key areas for track limits, remind drivers of flag signals, penalties and entry and exit points for the assembly area and parc ferme used before and after a session respectively. You must pay full attention to this briefing, as the information contained is imperative to ensure your race weekend goes smoothly. Whether it’s the first or fiftieth time you sit in a briefing, do not take it for granted. While most of the information may be the same as any other briefing, a quick refresher on the basics is never a bad thing.
Please also use this time to ask any questions you may have. Don’t feel embarrassed or silly if you think your question or query is simple or obvious, as there’s no harm in being absolutely sure on something. Besides, someone else may have had the same query but wasn’t confident enough to raise their hand in front of everyone, so if you do so you could helping out more than just yourself!
If you or any other driver is competing at a certain circuit for the very first time, the clerk of the course will ask the question to ensure those drivers are given extra information on getting around the circuit and key corners and areas of the circuit to look out for.
When it comes to practice and qualifying, the aim of both is ideally to set the fastest lap time possible in order to start higher up the grid, of course! However, if you’re taking part in one of your first official sessions, getting a feel for the car and the circuit and building up your confidence should be your main priority. Once you have these and have a few sessions under your belt, then you can start to push for consistency and speed.
When it is time to get ready for your next session, you will hear an announcement over the pit lane and paddock PA system calling for all cars from your championship to head to the assembly area. Be sure to keep an ear out for these announcements as depending on how the weekend is running so far in terms of keeping to the timetable, you may be running either behind or ahead of schedule. You should make sure you’re ready to head to the assembly area as soon as you hear the call.
When heading to assembly, you will be directed where to go and where to park your car by the marshals. Remember, if you haven’t had your car noise tested yet, this is where it will happen so be prepared. When it’s almost time to head out on track, the marshals in the area will call for all drivers to be in their cars ready to go. You must make sure all of your racing gear is on and secured correctly and that you’re firmly strapped into your race seat in the car. Once the marshal at the exit gives the signal, you’ll most likely head down the pit lane where you’ll wait for a green flag where your session will start.
Usually, qualifying sessions will last either 15 or 20 minutes depending on the championship and the timetable in some cases. You must complete at least three laps in order to successfully qualify for a race. Sometimes a car problem, a mistake that puts you off the track or an incident will prevent you from completing three laps within the session. If this happens and you’re able to ensure your car is still race worthy, generally you will be allowed to complete your laps during the lunch break when track activity has temporarily ceased. Sometimes, you may also be allowed to take part in another championship’s qualifying session, provided this has been permitted by the clerk of the course.
Once the session has come to an end, you’ll be directed into the pit lane and straight into parc ferme, where you are not allowed to do anything to your car until you’re allowed to leave and head back to your garage or paddock space. You’ll then be able to pick up a copy of the timing results from race admin or from your co-ordinator to find out where you placed in the session against everyone else.
The race follows the exact same procedure of heading to the assembly area as in previous sessions, however this time you’ll be released straight on to the circuit and head around to the grid, where you’ll be stopped in the correct position by a marshal. In terms of the starting procedure itself, check the championship regulations to make sure you know what will happen and whether it will be a standing start, a rolling start or a delayed start for different classes. Again, be sure to ask the clerk of the course in the drivers’ briefing if you’re unsure about anything.
Once the race is over and the chequered flag flies, once again you’ll head into parc ferme where you car may be subject to post-race scrutineering checks. This is just to ensure that nothing has changed between the first time the car was checked and the end of the race. If you are found to have contravened a rule as a result of any changes, you will be subject to a penalty per the clerk of the course’s decision. Remember, no one is allowed to touch or work on your car while it is in parc ferme. Anyone from your team who does so could also land you with a penalty.
If you were successful enough to end up on the top three positions, either in the overall result and/or in class depending on your championship’s regulations, you’ll be asked to head to the designated circuit podium where you’ll be given your trophy and also a winner’s hat if finishing in 1st place, a garland and a bottle of champagne if provided. You’ll also be required to pose for any photos and also conduct one or two interviews with the circuit commentators and possibly TV crews if your championship is being filmed that weekend. Make sure you oblige as everyone’s there to do a job, even yourself as a racing driver, so it’s important!
On occasion, you may find yourself being called up to speak to the clerk of the course regrading an something that took place on track during a session, be it practice, qualifying or the race. If you are called to see the clerk, you must head to Race Control straightaway where they will discuss with you the reasons why you have been summoned. This will be based on any marshals reports as well as anything noted and spotted by race control during the session. Video footage can and will be required and utilised if necessary to determine who was to blame if more than one driver was involved in an incident.
If you do not agree with the clerk’s decision, you have the right to appeal within 30 minutes of the decision being made. There is a specific process for appeals which is detailed in section C of the Motorsport UK Yearbook. It is up to you as the competitor to fully understand the process and be prepared in any eventuality. If you miss the 30 minute window of appeal, but still wish to challenge the decision again you, the next step will be to take the matter to the National Court. Again, these procedures should be outlined in the Motorsport UK Yearbook.
On the other hand, if you feel that an incident with another driver has compromised your race and the result, you have the right to put in a protest against that driver yourself. Once again, those procedures are also in the Motorsport UK yearbook.
Ultimately, no one wants to have to face the clerk of the course for any kind of incident, however you must ensure that you are clued up and prepared for any occasion where you are required to do so.
As you immerse yourself into the world of motorsport, you’ll probably be after sponsorship opportunities, the key is to approach businesses who you think could really benefit from the image your race team can provide in addition to all the normal marketing tricks..