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My motorsport history up to 2008

With a keen childhood interest in Motorsport I knew this was what I would want to do when the time and money would allow.

Aside from the occasional bit of karting, my first bit of competitive driving was with the Fiat Coupe club www.fccuk.org at the Santa Pod drag strip in 2003. Shortly after that came my first trackday at Donington Park, from then I was hooked and many trackdays have followed since. 

Trackdays are such fun, especially when with a group of friends, but with overtaking only allowed in certain places and by invitation it doesn't always satisfy a competitive nature. I read about sprinting on the SE Lotus forum http://www.seloc.org/ which looked good and quite affordable. Sprinting and hill climbing involves 'racing' against the clock from a start line to a finish point in the quickest possible time. Only one car allowed on the circuit at once, so no chance of hitting another car at least. It had the benefits of not needing to worry about a roll cage, extinguisher, fancy race suit or a course to pass a licence, so keeping costs down. I did this for just over a year, and accumulated enough points to win my class overall in 2006 with the two Fiat Coupes I owned that year.

                         

 

In 2007 I sprinted one round only in the Renaultsport Clio 172, and finished second in class beaten by a well driven classic Mini Cooper. The distance to North Weald and how busy my life was with my car filming business Fast Films put further sprinting on hold.

                      

 

Owning the Caterham and having a stable home life made me start to think about racing again in 2008. Encouraged by my girlfriend (now wife) Beth I put in for my ARDS course in December 2008. I chose Oulton Park, partly as they use Clio 197s and partly as I hadn't driven that circuit before.

Cheshire is a fair way away from South Wiltshire, plus a car and circuit which are new to me are not ingredients for proving to an instructor you can drive smoothly and quickly!

A long drive up to the circuit and a wait for the ice to thaw on the track and I was ready to begin to become a racing driver.

                                                    
 

The first part of the test is a theory test. The flag section is an auto fail if you get any wrong, but was pretty easy, especially as they show you the MSA DVD before hand which contains all the answers.
 
                                                          


Whilst waiting for the test to be marked and an instructor to become free I signed on as a passenger and wandered up the paddock, and grabbed a few passenger laps. Trackdayers are generally a friendly bunch.

After lunch I was introduced to the instructor, and out to the Clio 197. He asked how many laps I had driven, I said none. He asked had I not booked any tuition before hand? Err, no!

                                                         


The brief is to drive a fast but comfortable lap, with any spins or driving miss daisy being an auto fail.
 

                                                            


Oulton is a tricky course to learn in such a short time, with a lot of undulations, combined with a slippery surface and mud on a lot of the corners from previous offs.

I proceeded to drive as smoothly as I could over the next 5 laps or so, all went fine, and we pulled back into the pits. The Instructor said congratulations, I had passed. He filled out a mark sheet, noting that I drove within myself, and that a little more consistency should be my aim. I agree, every lap was a new experience on that slippery track! I took a copy of the mark sheet, which is pictured below.

                                                                           

The last step was to pass my medical which was kindly done by a GP friend of mine, then I posted the application off to get my National B race licence.

The ARDS test isn't hard as long as you have had a bit of track driving practise and learnt your flags. I believe that two students failed on the day, with the remaining 5 or 6 passing.



The hard bit comes after gaining the licence, as I started to find the money for the equipment and race entries I need, continue reading by pressing back and choosing 2009.