How to Start Racing
Going racing need not be the major hurdle that it may seem to the onlooker, and the whole process can be completed here at Castle Combe, with experts on hand to guide you along the way. We would always recommend that prospective racers spend a day or two at the Racing School before making any final decisions. The expert instructors will be able to give you an honest appraisal of your potential, and lapping the circuit at approaching racing speed will allow you to be certain that this is for you! It is highly likely that you will even be more hooked...
Once you’ve done that, you will need to set about getting a racing licence. The first step is to buy the ‘Go Racing’ pack put together by the Motor Sports Association, the UK governing body for motorsport. The people at the Racing School will tell you how to do this. Inside the pack is all you need to know about getting a racing licence, and you will need one before you can contest your first race. The major step in getting a licence is passing the test set by the Association of Racing Drivers’ Schools (ARDS) and, once again, the team at the Racing School can help you prepare for this, and then arrange for you to take the test.
Don’t worry about the test, most people with reasonable ability and a sensible approach pass! Then, with the paperwork complete, you will be the proud holder of what is called a National B race licence. That will allow you to enter any one of the Castle Combe based championships but you will of course need one or two more things. Including a racing car! But for all the things like overalls and crash helmets, Merlin Motorsport at the circuit, can give you all the help and advice you will need.
HOW TO START RACING IN 7 EASY STEPS
STEP 1: OBTAINING YOUR RACE LICENCE
The first step is to either get on the phone or log on to the website of the sports governing body, the Motor Sport Association (the MSA) and get hold of the ARDS (Associationof Racing Driver Schools) ‘Go Racing’ pack.
What eventually arrives on your doormat is a comprehensive guide to obtaining your National B race licence. The starter pack includes a DVD which sets out the principles of car control, race etiquette and what all the various marshalling flags mean, pay particular attention to this
because this will be covered in the written test. Usefully though, there are some ARDS notes which emphasise the main points of track craft as outlined in the video, so you can use these to revise. Secondly, there’s the MSA’s Competitors’ Yearbook in CD format, otherwise known as the Blue Book – which goes into great detail about the various regulations of the many different motorsport disciplines. Lastly, there’s the all important ‘Application for Novice Competition Licence’ form – on the back of which there’s a section for your doctor to fill out during your medical examination.
STEP 2: GET YOUR MEDICAL
Your own GP can facilitate the medical for you as a private patient, or you can choose to have the medical done privately, either option is to be paid for. To go racing you must pass a medical examination.
STEP 3: BOOK YOUR ARDS TEST
Castle Combe Racing School runs regular ARDS days so given enough notice you will have plenty of booking options - just contact the circuit office for details – 01249 782417 or check out the web site www.castlecombecircuit.co.uk
STEP 4: YOUR ARDS TEST DAY
Remember to bring along your ‘Application for Novice Competition Licence’ form (complete with the medical section filled out) because the examiner has to both sign and stamp it upon your successful completion of the test. Incidentally, if you don’t get a medical, forget the form or you fail the test you cannot go racing. Your day will start with a detailed briefing, this outlines the do’s and don’ts of racing, safety procedures and a detailed explanation of the
racing line. Incidentally, it’s worth completing a detailed racing course prior to your ARDS day because if you spin during the 20 minute ARDS driving test you could fail, similarly if you manage to get a certain number of questions in the written test wrong then you won’t be collecting a licence from MSA, either. Before you commence your practical driving session, it’s time to watch the MSA’s Go Racing video – it might be the umpteenth time you’ve seen it but it acts as useful revision for later. Video over, you are then allocated an instructor who will ride with you during your assessment laps.
STEP 5: APPLYING FOR YOUR LICENCE
Having past your ARDS test the last bit of your ‘Application for Novice Competition Licence’ is to ensure the form has been stamped and signed. Send your medical certificate, stamped ARDS certificate and appropriate fee to the MSA. A few weeks later, a package should arrive with your credit card style licence, and the latest copy of the MSA’s Blue Book. Now you can boast that you’re officially a racing driver.
STEP 6: RACE WEAR
Buy the best you can afford, this is your personal protection as a person you are far more important than a car, so this is an area not to skimp. To go racing YOU MUST HAVE THE FOLLOWING MANDATORY ITEMS:-
HELMET, which is MSA/FIA approved.
OVERALLS, fire retardant racing overalls.
GLOVES, fire retardant gloves.
SHOES, fire retardant shoes.
OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT which is highly recommended include:- Fire retardant underwear, socks, balaclava & HANS devise. Castle Combe Racing Club Ltd recommend you try before you buy as comfort & fit is really important. Merlin Motorsport based at Castle Combe Circuit offer competitors a great service.
STEP 7: YOUR RACE CAR
Now you have decided to go racing then don’t rush out and buy the first car you see, the best advice is to attend several race meetings, have a good look around the paddock and when you have identified the class you would most like to compete in talk to some of the competitors. Now you are ready to decide on one of the following options:-
(A). You want to own and run your own car.
(B). Own your own car but have it prepared on your behalf.
(C). Rent a car on an arrive and drive basis ( this is a great option for busy people or those with no mechanical knowledge). Obviously your budget is important, work out how much you want to spend on the car and remember that you will also need to have the budget to actually attend the races so don’t blow it all on the car in the first place.