7 helpful tips to break into the world of motorsport

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It’s really easy to feel disconnected from all the action when you watch motorsport on the television. Especially Formula One.

Billions have been invested into the sport and there are race tracks in the world’s most exclusive locations. So getting involved may seem completely impossible from your living room.

But the thing is, if you’re really passionate about motorsport, there are many ways to take part. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the finances or contacts to be part of next season’s F1 Ferrari team – there will be a motorsport discipline out there that’s reachable for you.

Here’s some tips to get you started, whether you’re into cars or motorcycles.

Tip 1. Join a local motorsport club

There are motorsport clubs dotted all over the country. Get in contact, get yourself along to the next meeting and get chatting. You’ll meet like-minded motorsport fans, who are also into their cars and bikes, with a wealth of experience and willing to offer advice.

If there isn’t a club near by, try looking around on social media. There are plenty of groups on Facebook and online forums that you can dive into and keep track of any conversations and tips on starting out.

Be brave. If you have any questions, just ask. The amateur motorsport community has a reputation of being very down-to-earth and welcoming to newcomers. And it’s likely you’ll make many new friends as well in the process.

Tip 2. Take part in a track day (or two, or three, or four . . . )

If you’re particularly keen to be driving, you should get yourself to a track day and get behind the wheel. Racing circuits and even disused airfields across the country open their doors for amateur drivers to test their own road legal or track-prepared cars or motorcycles without speed restrictions.

A novice track day could be an option if you want some expert tuition. You can hire an instructor to show you the ins and outs of track driving – and it’s a great way to find out what you need to pay attention to.

Before you go, check what you will need exactly with the track. It’s likely that you must hold a driving licence or the appropriate racing licence. Taking out Track Day Insurance is also highly recommended.

Tip 3. Be seen at local motorsport events.

There’s some brilliant grassroots motorsport around. Get yourself to the events at your nearest track and observe what’s happening around you.

Of course, enjoy the racing but also wander around the stands and head over to the paddocks, pits and service areas between the competitive sessions. Chat to the regulars, and ask if there’s any way you can be more involved or volunteer.

Even if you’re asked to clear out some old kit or clean the vehicles down at the end of the next meeting, it’s a start. Don’t knock back any opportunity because any job thrown at you could lead to more responsibilities whether it’s helping the team on a more regular basis or marshalling.

Tip 4. Decide which discipline’s for you.

There’s so many motorsport disciplines you could get involved with, even at an amateur level.

Fans who watched or attended motorsport events with their families tend to stick to the one they grew up with, whether it’s rallying, autocross or speedway.

But if you love motorsport in general, think about the discipline you really want to get involved with. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin and overcommit to helping out, so focus on one and stick with it for a little while.

Some choose to venture into banger racing when they’re first starting out. It’s one of the cheaper motorsports, an opportunity to get some experience and a great deal of fun. Speaking of finances, we’ll deal with that point next.

Tip 5. It will help if you start saving your spare pennies now…

It is possible to compete, or be part of the motorsport community, if you’re on a tight budget.

But if you really want to get involved with racing your own car or bike, modifying it, and travelling the country to compete in events – you will need to start putting some of your hard-earned cash to one side. There’s all the safety gear, licenses, insurance, travel, entrance fees – and these things all add up.

For amateur motorsport, realistically a budget of £5,000 really starts opening more doors and leading to more options in areas such as sporting trials or karting. Double that budget, and you’ll be able to get a car for stage rallying.

You’ve been warned – there are plenty of hidden costs in motorsport. If you drop a couple of grand on your own car, for example, you will need a trailer to transport it to and from events. Competing in motorsport can be exhilarating… but it can also be a money pit.

Tip 6. If you want to get competing, make sure you know about the paperwork.

There’s a fair amount of admin to be on top of, ranging from licences and insurance to competition entry forms and car maintenance certificates. To get started in club-level motorsport events, you will need a road car or bike as well as membership to the relevant motor club.

You will need to be a member of an MSA-registered motorsport club, for example, if you want to compete in any of its events rallying, racing, and karting. It advises you buy an MSA starter pack, which includes a novice licence, before you take a test at an MSA-accredited school. To officially compete, you will need to take out a Competition Licence.

For those into their motorbikes, the British Motorcycle Racing Club makes sure that everyone new to racing takes the written ACU CTC course. Since 2014, all riders are also required to undertake an on-track assessment – and one major ‘Race School’ is arranged every year.

Tip 7. Get plenty of practice, gain lots of experience – and enjoy yourself.

Without meaning to shatter your dreams, but it’s important to be realistic at the beginning.

Chances are, you’re not going to be winning races and a champion overnight. But definitely get yourself out there and get as much seat time as possible.

Focus on your development, gain lots of experience, ask plenty of questions on the way – and enjoy being part of the exciting world of motorsport.

You’ll soon find out nothing beats the adrenaline rush of racing.

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