The news has recently been full of stories about illegal car races taking place on the public roads of Britain at night – and whereas most drivers are responsible behind the wheel, the temptation to “open her up” on a clear road or forget the speed limit in the fast lane can get to any driver from time-to-time.
Driving at speed is a skill, however – and there is a reason why motor racing drivers and rally drivers spend years training practising and wear safety equipment.
Any driver can take part in racing, however – so if you want t put your car through its paces, here is how to go about becoming a boy or girl racer in safety and without harming anyone else, or yourself.
- Buy a motor racing experience day – one of the best ways to sample racing is to invest in a day out like a race track like Silverstone and have a go at motor racing to find out how well you can adapt to driving at high speeds. Vouchers start from £99 per person and for that you will usually receive training and a trial run in a top of the range motor like a Lamborghini. The “days out” usually only last a few hours, but it is a good introduction to racing. Weight restrictions may apply and you will have to be over 18 and physically fit.
- Find a race track – British Motor Racing Circuits (www.bmrc.co.uk) offers a guide to race tracks and many tracks will offer open days with instruction for drivers who want to try their hand at racing, or try UK Track Days (www.uktrackdays.co.uk).
- Try an Advanced Driving Course – if you are going to race, you need to be able to handle your car in any number of weather and road conditions, so start off with an advanced driving course and also try a course which teaches you how to handle your car on a skid patch.
- Get fit – the thrill of driving in races can take its toll on your stress levels and cardiovascular system, so eat healthily, lose weight if you need to and stop drinking and taking recreational drugs.
- See your GP if you have a pre-existing medical condition which may raise risk of stroke or heart attack. Usually if you suffer from vertigo or high or low blood pressure, racing will not be for you because of the risk of blackouts or episodes of dizziness.
- Get your car serviced thoroughly – it is likely you will want to start tuning up your car for race competitions or rallying, so get a garage to check it out and recommend changes which will offer you more power and control over your vehicle.
- Practice braking – skill in applying the brake is crucial in racing, as tracks are usually curved with tricky bends and you need to be able to not only steer smoothly at speed, but also brake so that you don’t send the car into a spin or worse.
- Stick to the rules – racetracks will have their own rules and one of the most common is whether you are allowed to pass another driver or not during a race – called the No Pass rule. Not sticking to the rules can be dangerous and disqualify or ban you from racing on a track.
- Get to know what the trackside flags mean, as it could save your life and those of others.
- Get insured – make sure you are covered properly for racing and never be tempted to be underinsured to save money on premiums. The sort of injuries racing can leave you with include catastrophic brain injury, amputations, paralysis, severe burns, fractured limbs and facial disfigurement. Make sure you have enough insurance cover to help meet medical bills if the worst should happen.
Racing your car can be an exhilarating experience – and the whole family can enjoy a day at the racetrack together.
Never take risks or compete dangerously on the track, however – returning home in one piece and living to race again is more important than winning.