Want to do more than just watch races in 2010? F1 Fanatic guest writer Ben Evans shows you how to get involved in motor racing.
When you think of getting involved in motorsport, you naturally think of driving. But for those of us who can’t match the elite few at the top of motor racing this can be (very) expensive, potentially injurious and heartbreaking.
Having spent five years racing single seaters across the UK and Europe I can confirm that all the above are true (don’t believe me? Have a look at the video below of me crashing at Brands Hatch six years ago).
But there are other ways to get your motor racing buzz and give something back to the sport we all love. Here’s a few suggestions gleaned from my years in the paddock.
As the video above makes clear, marshals are no less than the lifeblood of motor racing. Without them we quite simply wouldn’t be racing.
Every race meeting requires a minimum number of marshals before it is allowed to go ahead, and it is the marshals who ensure the meeting runs in a safe environment. The British Motorsport Marshals Club is always looking for new volunteers and whileyou have to be 18 to go out “on Post”, there are opportunities to get involved in race organisation from the age of 12.
As with drivers there is the chance to move up to Formula 1 and marshals from a number of countries get invited to officiate at Grands Prix around the world. A large contingent was sent to help with the marshalling of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year.
Although marshals do get paid many organising clubs (in the UK) offer meal tickets, exclusive trackdays, raffles and other goodies. Best of all you get in for free and get to watch the world’s top motor racing from some truly exclusive vantage points.
The effort involved in putting on a race meeting is unbelievable, from the circuit hire and preparation, mailing tickets to competitors and then on the day, ensuring that everyone is in the right place and behaving themselves. For the technically inclined there are always opportunities to assist around the scruiteneering bay. The main organising clubs are always looking for volunteers to help out with event organisation, and it is a great way to get involved behind the scenes. These links will point you in the right direction:
Yes, we all want to be covering F1, living the five star lifestyle travelling from race to race, but at the same time we all have to start somewhere. Although breaking into the motorsport media can seem an insurmountable task there are opportunities.
On the internet you can do it yourself, blogging, writing race reports, features and opinion columns – a great way to learn you craft and find your voice.
Once you’re feeling confident there are lots of writing opportunities at national level – most championships have a website and often looking for someone to write race reports and press releases. Whilst you may not get paid you should get a free ticket, a burger, and the chance to build up a good network. Once you’re part of the furniture and the regular “Motorsport News” journalist can’t make it you’re well positioned to get the call.
If you’re interested in writing an article for F1 Fanatic send Keith an email.
Mechanics and Engineering
Jumping straight into F1 is almost impossible – most teams recruit three to four graduates per year from top universities. That’s not to say there aren’t opportunities but beware it’s very competitive. However just about everybody from F1 downwards could use a spare pair of hands.
There is no better way to get involved than going to a race meeting and asking around, somebody is bound to need your help over the course of the season. However once you make a commitment, stick to it, there is nothing like unreliability to ruin your reputation.
Again, once you are known as a safe pair of hands the phone will start to ring, and in today’s economic climate, even teams at F3 level are staffed by several weekend warriors. I’ve certainly come across a number of people who started out in Formula Vee and are now running World Series by Renault and BTCC teams
Life working in motorsport, even as a hobby, is hard, tiring and massively anti-social. Last summer I worked at 22 meetings spread over 20 weekends, and spent so much time travelling I memorised the menu at every services on the M1.
Unlike tuning into F1 for two hours on Sunday afternoon, whatever your involvement expect to be doing 7-7 in the Summer and 8-6.30 in the autumn, in every weather. If you live in London, for a typical one-day meeting at Silverstone the alarm will go at 5.30, you’ll get to the circuit at 7.30/8 and will, traffic pending make it home around 8.30.
In short, you’ve got to love what you do.
The holy grail, there is nothing that tops going racing whether as a young charger, or a more mature racer indulging a passion, racing has something for everyone.
Right, first things first it is expensive. In the UK getting your licence will cost around ?é?ú300, that’s ?é?ú60 for a GO Racing pack, ?é?ú40 for the medical and ?é?ú200 for the ARDS test. Your safety equipment will then cost anywhere from ?é?ú500 – ?é?ú1000, as a rule buy the best you can afford, by all means sleep in the back of the car at a race meeting, but don’t skimp on the safety kit, or you may not live to regret it.
Once you have your licence you are free to compete in any race to National B level. Depending on your budget there are lots of avenues open. If you want to rent a drive to have a one off race, I’d say you’re looking at ?é?ú1000-?é?ú1500. That ?é?ú500-?é?ú750 car hire (Formula Vee or Stock Hatch), ?é?ú275 entry fee, and then if you test the day before (highly recommended), chuck in another ?é?ú500. To do a season of rent-a-drive racing in a moderately competitive car you’re looking at probably ?é?ú10-?é?ú15k, and then double that for a frontrunning machine.
For the mechanically minded owner/driver is maybe the way to go. The first season may be very expensive as you are learning everything all at once, but after you have got the car sorted, provided you’re running nothing too exotic this can be a very cheap way of going racing. I know of many drivers in several championships who spend less than ?é?ú5k a year on their car.
Go Motorsport can help you find ways of getting started in motor racing:
Over to you
Have you ever marshalled or helped organise a race meeting or F1 weekend? Are you planning to get involved in motor sport in 2010? Tell us in the comments.
This is a guest article by Ben Evans.