Getting into any form of motor sport for the first time is a daunting prospect and it is a step up from track days with regards to regulations and safety equipment. This guide should help you get onto the grid for the first time.
Contact your single service association
First an foremost you should contact your service motor sport association. They will be able to help you towards getting onto the grid, if you've not raced before there are a number of hurdles that you need to get through and there maybe some funding or help that can be provided that can get you on the way. Additionally they may be able to loan you some equipment or provide a drive in one of their association cars if a seat is available.
Get your licence
Race licences are issued by the MSA (Motor Sports Association), unlike with sprints and hillclimbs you will need to undergo a test to obtain one for circuit racing. You will need to buy a starter pack from the MSA; this will include a Race Licence Application Form, a Medical Form to be completed by your GP and a useful DVD/video outlining some of the things you will come across in your ARDS course.
What is an ARDS Course?
The Association of Racing Driving Schools, which are situated at most of the race circuits in the UK, run one-day courses which include theory tests of your basic knowledge of motor sport (flag signals for example) and a practical 'test' of your ability to drive safely around a circuit.
On the assumption that you pass your ARDS course and your GP (this can be conducted at your unit Med Centre) is happy with your physical condition, you can then apply to the MSA for your National B Race Licence. When you get your licence, you will also get a printed copy of the MSA Year Book (commonly called the Blue Book).
You will be required to have the correct safety clothing (overalls, gloves, FHR, helmet) once you start racing (you won't need these for the ARDS test). The standards required are reviewed each year, so please make sure you are buying equipment that will meet the current and future requirement. Section K of the Blue Book details the regulations.
Perhaps you already have a track day car that you have gradually converted to race specification, but if not there are two main options. You could either build a car to regulations, whether from scratch or by converting a road car. Alternatively, there are always plenty of race cars available for sale secondhand. Have a look on Pistonheads, Paddock42.com, Race Demand, Race Cars Direct, Motorsport Ads and even eBay.co.uk.
You will then need to ensure that it conforms to the AFRC Regulations.
Costs (for 2017, approx):
Race entry fees - £285-£335 per event