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
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.
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?
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
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
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.