For most petrolheads, there are few finer ways to spend the weekend than at full throttle, exploring the limits of your vehicle without endangering your licence.
Although racing can be incredibly rewarding, it’s also often rather pricey. But fear not – we’ve gathered a panel of experts to discuss the most affordable ways to enjoy your vehicle to the max, with a pinch of helpful advice from each. In the first of this two-part guide, we’ll give you the run down on the cheapest routes to racing. Strap in…
We begin with arguably the most accessible series of them all – a non-contact, fast-paced, competitive racing series, which costs as little as £10 per event. At a typical Autograss race, you’ll find stripped-out, budget hatches being thrashed to the limit over a short oval grass or mud circuit.
“It’s possible to find a purpose-built, bike-engined stock car for under £2000, but you can be competitive for a lot less than that,” says Diane Tomkinson, Director at National Autograss Sport Association. “There’s plenty of budget options out there. At entry level Class 1, you’re limited to 1000cc with no special tuning or engine modifications. The Citroen AX, Vauxhall Nova, classic Mini, Nissan Micra and Toyota Yaris are common choices.”
Races usually last around 4-10 laps, and really are fun for all the family – the Class 1 series is open to anyone aged 10 and over, making Autograss the perfect first rung on the racing ladder. Events are non-contact, and you’ll also need a NASA licence costing around £45-60 per year.
“Our club has around 4000 members, and there’s plenty of meetings where you can just turn up on the day and race, without pre-registration. You can often find mum, dad and child all racing the same event in the same car.”
If you prefer to stick to the asphalt, hillclimb or ‘sprint’ series offers affordable, high-speed, point to point action that’s also incredibly inclusive.
“Hillclimb is one of the very few sports which caters for literally any type of car,” says Gemma Price, General Manager at Prescott Hill Climb. “We see a huge range of vehicles - from a shopping car to a single seater – dependant only on budget or personal taste. There are classes specifically designed for standard, roadgoing production cars, so you can turn up in your daily driver without modification if you wish.”
Events typically cost around £150 per vehicle and can be made even more affordable by splitting the driving (and the fee) with a friend. Aside from a helmet, you’ll also need a Motorsport UK RS Interclub licence, costing around £70.
Gemma's advice to beginners is to invest in some expert tuition. “Each venue is different, but at Prescott we run a driving school run by course experts, providing tuition on how to drive safely and quickly. I’d really recommend that – it’s really important to understand how it all works from the beginning, and this helps you to get the most out of the event.”
Stay tuned for part two of our beginners’ budget guide to motorsport…
Have you had any experiences of your own? Let us know in the comments below.