A Guide to getting on the Grid.
Over the last few years there have been a number of newcomers to the Peter Best MG Cup, some of these have been novices looking to take to the grid for the very first time. There have even been would be racers who come to one or two of the events prior to their first race in a bid to quell the nerves that will undoubtedly happen. Hopefully this article will help a newbie racer get onto the grid and join what is one of the friendliest and closest bumper to bumper racing championships in the UK.
All of the drivers young and old, (some older than others) male and female in the PBIC will welcome new racers to the fold, it has been said many times that the camaraderie in our paddock is among the best, so if you are lost or something has gone wrong with your trusty steed of an MG then there are always people around who will help. There are Class reps who will point you in the right direction, and plenty of fellow drivers with spanners, some of us know how to use them too!
The Road to the Race Track.
So you’ve built a trackday car and got carried away a little bit. Or you’ve always wanted to have a go at racing and now the chance has come. Either way if you’re reading this then you’re making the first steps.
That’s the easy bit, get the Go Racing pack from the MSA and do your ARDS Test. It’s best do this at a circuit you already know quite well, it takes an afternoon to do, and so long as you don’t make your examiner push the car out of a wet gravel trap you should be fine! Learn from the instructors and do as many driver training days as you need before your first race. To finish first, first you must finish.
Race Car Preparation.
If you are building the car yourself (most of us do) then a good read through Section K of the Blue Book will be a good bible to work from. By far the best way is to come to one of our race days and have a nose around the race cars that have been on the track for a number of years. Most drivers have their own little things in the cars that make life in the cockpit better for them. Switches in the handiest places, and only the bare necessities of what you need to abide by the regs.
Class Regulations are very important to clubman race series. When you are building the car it’s best to know exactly which class you want to race in. That way you don’t go spending many many pennies on Go Faster bits of kit that are not allowed in the class you want to run in. Most drivers start off in Class A. Even though this class is not the fastest, it by far has the closest racing, and once you’ve mastered the circuits and you catch the leading group of what can 6 or 7 cars going for the win it is a great feeling of accomplishment. Some drivers then spend the next 20 years getting to the front of that group!
Also make sure you have all the kit. Apart from the obvious, Lid, Boots & Overalls, make sure you have good comfortable gloves, and decent fire proof underwear. A neck brace of some kind is a very good idea, HANS if you can afford it, and note that if you are using a HANS device you will need the correct harnesses. The normal 3″ kind will not do.
Getting your Race entry in.
Before you start you need to be a member of the Championship and have a race number. Speak to the Co-ordinator and he will sort this for you.
You then need to be a member of the MGCC, these are two fees you will need to pay at the start of each season. Get yourself onto the emailing list for the championship, our race dates are usually announced in the Oct/Nov time for the forthcoming year. This gives you a good time scale for getting in some testing before your first race of the year. Note, once you have your race licence you can do race test days at all of the UK circuits, you don’t have to do censored trackdays to get your practice in.
The MGCC has an automated entry system, so once you are an MGCC member you can register for the Race Entry System and put your entry in online. The entry list will then be posted along with the Timetable and your Final Regulation (Known as the Finals). All of this info will be on the MGCC website, and all of the timing and results are on the TSL Website.
Always starts early. First you will need to sign on, find a fellow PBIC racer (it’s better to find one with a coffee) and they will take you along to signing on. You will need your Licence and usually some money for the Marshalls collection tin (without the Marshalls we can’t go and race!) Once signed on you will be given a slip of paper for the Scrutineers, hang on to this.
You then need to parade your pride and joy of a Race Car in front of the Scrutineers, they are a picky bunch sometimes, but are there to make sure you are safe to go out on track. So long as your electric cut off kills the entire car’s power, your belts are in date and secure, the fuel tank is sealed off from the insides of the cockpit, and there is nothing that will come loose at speed then all should be well. There is always a bit of time to sort something out before qualifying if the Scrutineers do fail the car. Give the slip of paper you were given at Signing on to the Scrutineers and they will swap it for a small piece of paper (your pass slip), attach this to the inside of your drivers rear window.
Usually at the entrance to the assembly area you will have to do your Noise Test, sometimes this is done at the exit of the scrutineers bay. But either way it is best to make sure your engine is nice and warm before you noise test it. The limit is 105db and you will need to hold it at 4500revs for a short time while someone gets a reading from your exhaust, the reading is often higher if the engine is cold.
You will then be ushered into the assembly area, once there use that time to make sure your bonnet and boot pins are secure, that your fire system safety pin is removed and all your mirrors are where you want them. Get yourself belted in and all your kit on and wait…
A Marshall will tell all the competitors when to start the engines up, but make sure you’re ready to go with a warm motor. As you follow the driver in front out onto the circuit, you are now out on your own! Put in as many consistent laps as you can before the Chequered Flag is waved. Your best time will get you a place on the grid for the race.
Try not to win on your first time out. It’s really annoying for the rest of us!
Hopefully this may have helped you miss some of the mistakes others have already made, there will always be something that you will forget or forget to do, but the whole idea of clubman racing is to have as many of us out on the track, and all of us crossing the finish line with your foot to the floor, inches away from the car you’ve been battling with for the past 20 minutes!
Come and join the fun!
In addition to having paid for the car and the licence to go racing and all the fire proof clothing you’ll need, it would be prudent to budget for the actual racing! Once you’ve got to the start line of your first race all will be forgotten, but in that boring period between races most of us need to save some pennies and budget for the forthcoming season.
So what’s involved?
Apart from the costs of joining the MGCC and the Championship itself (about £50-70 each), you will have possibly 12 races over 6 weekends between late March and early October to budget for. Obviously depending on your location there will be the cost of the getting to and from the circuits plus hotels, or if you are going to be doing the self-catering, sleeping in the back of the Race Van thing then you just need to worry about the costs of running the car.
Average costs over a season.
Entry fees, £400ish per weekend = £2400
Tyres, One set should do you a year if you move them around the corners a bit = £400-600 depending size
Race fuel for the weekend £40 ish.
Brake pads. Anything from £60 – £120 depending on grade, and one set will do you a season easily.
End of season Dinner Bash, the best excuse to get your fellow racers drunk and find out their secrets! £200 all in for 2.
It is always good to keep in a reserve for the general servicing of the car and any parts you might need that either break, or possibly get broken.
Of course there are a few of our racers that share the costs by sharing the racing?. This has proved quite popular over the last few years as most teams will have a car between two drivers. So both drivers get to race at the same weekend, and all the costs are split between the two drivers and they both get the same track time. Usually a 15min Qually session and a 20min race each. And when something goes pear-shaped with the car… There is always the other driver to blame!
Article written by Kevin Hewer