It's easier than you might imagine to get involved in motorsport. Anyone can have a go at karting or an autosolo or become a marshal. There are opportunities to compete from the age of eight and clubs all around the country which you can join.
The BWRDC was formed with the aim of promoting and supporting women in all forms of motorsport, and we are an MSA registered club with our own championships and awards. As a member you can claim points towards the BWRDC championships for the events you take part in during the year.
GET STARTED IN MOTORSPORT
What is Motorsport?
Motorsport is one of the most successful and popular sports in Britain. There are around 750 registered motor clubs, (including the BWRDC) which organise over 4,300 events a year in 22 different disciplines. There are at least 100,000 competitors, of which some 30,000 individuals hold MSA Competition licences. A1though it is often perceived as a male dominated sport, there are many more successful female participants than you might imagine.
Who can compete?
Anyone over the age of 8, male or female, can drive competitively. As for cars, many forms of motorsport can be tackled with completely standard road cars, while others permit only very limited modifications. Some require each car to carry a passenger, often as an active participant, so you don't necessarily even need a car to be a competitor.
What if I don't want to compete?
You don't have to be a competitor to become actively involved. A great many rewarding and enjoyable opportunities exist in all areas of the sport, from the organisation of events to marshalling. You can even seek permanent employment. Great Britain is the centre of motorsport, with over 50,000 men and women employed as truck drivers, secretaries, event organisers, championship co-ordinators, mechanics or salespeople, and in PR, administration and planning.
How do I find out more?
The first step is to contact the Motor Sports Association (MSA) for further information. They are the governing body for motorsport in the UK and run a scheme called Go Motorsport which will tell you all you need to know about getting involved. The second step is to join a club like the BWRDC or your local MSA registered club which you can find on the Go Motorsport website. There are lots of benefits from joining a club, including regular meetings where you will get to know other competitors, marshals and officials. Most clubs publish a magazine to keep you up to date with events and news and have their own club awards which are normally presented at their annual dinner and dance. You will find that you build up a network of friends you can call on to help with any motor racing problem you may have! To get in touch with the BWRDC section secretary for help and advice specific to your chosen discipline, see the Contact page on this website.
Get your Licence
To compete in the vast majority of motorsport events, you need a competition licence. You can purchase these from the MSA but you may have to take some driving proficiency tests - for example you need an ARDS test for a race licence or a BARS test for a rally licence. The ARDS and BARS tests are available at good race and rally schools who will teach you everything you need to know and usually hire a car to you if you don't have one yet. Details of these schools are available on the MSA website.
The biggest and most important piece of equipment you will need is a car! Talk to people in your club who already compete in the discipline you want to try to find out what car you could compete in. There are some disciplines where you can even compete in your road car - for example Autosolo events. There will probably be an owner's club or website forum for the car you have chosen. To make sure your car is eligible, check the the championship rules on your club or association's wbsite. For general rules, the MSA Competitor and Officials Year Book (the ''Blue Book') is the bible which you will get with your licence. For further details see the specific event or championship rules.
Other than a car, additional safety equipment is usually required. For safety reasons you will probably have to wear a crash helmet, fireproof overalls and carry a fire extinguisher which must all comply with MSA regulations. You may also wear fire proof gloves and racing boots. Several companies sell these items; ask other drivers and see what they recommend!
Costs to consider:
A HANS (Head and Neck Support) device may also be required for certain classes/disciplines or if you are planning to do international events. Remember you will also have to pay entry fees for any championships and events you would like to enter - these vary depending on the event - check the regulations for details. Don't forget travel costs to and from the venues as well as tyres and fuel!!
A Beginners Guide to Karting
Karting is usually the starting ground for many racers coming into motorsport. It is a family run sport, which helps people make lifetime friends and grow through the ranks learning everything they need to know to be competitive within motorsport. There are many levels of talented drivers and many beginners, because of this variation there are classes and championships that any driver can choose to compete within to make them feel at home.
When a driver wishes to start karting they have to apply for an ARKS pack from the MSA. This gives a driver all the information that is needed to start karting and is filled with an MSA blue book of technical rules and regulations, scrutineer’s names and addresses and a list of the ARKS schools where a driver can take their ARKS test to apply for their race licence.
To start karting there are many circuits that run learner karting schools. People can take their children to the school where they get taught the basics of karting by instructors, such as the racing line, how to overtake and so on. To find out if your local circuit does this, have a look on the internet or give them a call. These schools are suitable for children.
Classes to choose from
Karting is split into age groups:
Cadet: Age 8 – 13
Junior: Age 11 – 17
Senior: Age 16 +
Within the age groups there are many classes. A class that a driver chooses to enter is greatly dependent on their location, budget and knowledge. Many areas of the country have greater numbers in certain classes and this may affect you if wish to compete within it. Many people only wish to compete at entry club level karting. This means you race mainly at your local circuits. If you are based in the East of England this is great as there are many circuits within a short distance from each other. South Wales a bit trickier as there is only one MSA licensed circuit in the area.
Once you start karting you have to race on novice plates for 6 races. For each of these race meetings you would have to start at the back of each heat. On the grids for the final, the novice plates do not count and you can start where your points collected from the heats let you. Once you have collected your 6 signatures you can upgrade to a full national B licence grade. To be eligible to apply for a National A licence you must continue to race a further 6 races still collecting signatures. Once the signatures have been collected you can apply for a National A licence which will allow you to race at National Level. The same goes for getting more signatures to upgrade from a National A licence to an International B.
Race meetings that are run throughout the UK have a permit grade - this means for a driver to enter they must have a licence of a certain grade.Everyone’s local clubs run their own championships. Each club will have their own website with all the details of the dates they are run. The club championships will be run on a certain weekend of each month. This is to allow competitors to compete in more than one club championship at the same time.
How a karting race meeting is run
Every driver has to sign on at race control in the morning. They will then receive their scrutineering card. Once it is filled in with all the correct details they take their kart to the scrutineering bay where the kart is checked for safety. The drivers are given an allocated time where they have to attend a drivers briefing. If the driver does not attend the briefing they can be fined. The driver is given a list of their grids for their heats. These are chosen by the organisers prior to the event. Each championship has a different number of heats, some run timed qualifying but this does vary with the championships supplementary regulations. Most race meetings are run with a 3 lap practice in the morning, a set of 3 heats and then a final. The grid for the final is calculated by each drivers collected points from their heats.
The BWRDC wishes to thank the author of this guide, BWRDC Member Carly Latcham.
Check out these useful websites to find your local motor clubs, book an ARDS, ARKS or BARS test at a racing school, get your competition licence sorted or visit a circuit.
Motor Sports Association (MSA)
The official FIA-recognised governing body (ASN) for motorsport in the UK
The MSA's scheme to encourage more people into the sport
Going Karting? Check out www.nationalkarting.co.uk
Here's a useful guide to the UK's Motorsport Circuits