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So you want to race?

Before taking to the circuit - whether it's to test or race - everyone needs a special racing licence. In the UK, the Motor Sports Association (MSA) governs all car circuit racing and it issues and administers the various licences that are available.

All of the prerequisite safety equipment is available from companies such as Demon Tweeks ( or Grand Prix Racewear ( GPR have a retail outlet located at Silverstone Circuit. Both can provide sales by mail-order, or pay them a visit for some friendly advice on what you need to buy.

As a guideline, a rookie year in club racing can cost from £5000 up to £30,000+. Career minded drivers with their eyes set on higher championships must expect to pay considerably more.

Competing in a Porsche need not be any more expensive than other makes. Depending on what you choose to compete in and with, the base vehicle may be no more expensive than other comparable vehicles and will often be less expensive to maintain. In addition, the Club’s motorsport is structured in such a way that vehicles remain competitive over time. Any re-structuring of the championships is always done sympathetically to try to ensure cars already in use can remain competitive.

A large element of potential cost is whether you are able to maintain and run the car yourself. Self-preparation will reduce costs dramatically and will frequently be the way in the Club’s Speed Championship, for example.

For example, an inaugural season in Formula Ford can cost upwards of £50,000, a place on the Seat Cupra Championship grid costs close to £80,000 while a year in the junior Formula BMW Championship could set you back as much as £180,000. Further up the motor sport ladder, higher profile championships such as Formula 3 and British Touring Cars require budgets in the region of £250,000 and upwards per annum.

Racing requirements
Beginners need to apply for a National B Competition Licence – (National B – Non-race for Speed events). The first step towards acquiring this is to purchase a 'Go Racing Pack' from the MSA - the cost is around £50. To do this, visit the MSA's website or call the MSA on 01753 765000. This special pack includes the essential Novice Race Licence Application Form, the MSA Blue Book which details all the safety rules and regulations that need to followed when racing plus a DVD highlighting all the various dos and don'ts.

Those aged over 18 years of age must pass a basic medical examination. This normally costs between £40 and £80 and can be carried out by your local doctor. Don't forget to take the Novice Race Licence Application form with you so that the doctor can stamp and sign it.
As with a road licence there is a need to pass a driven and written assessment. These assessments are carried out by approved ARDS Schools (Association of Racing Drivers Schools) such as the Silverstone Motorsport Academy. The ARDS assessment in its basic form costs from £295.
Once the ARDS School has stamped and signed a Novice Race Licence Application Form, applicants must send the completed document back to the MSA for processing. This costs a further £42.50 in licence fees.

Non UK residents should note that the MSA is only able to issue UK Race Licences to those actually residing in the UK and able to provide proof of address.
Those residing in the UK but not holding a British Passport will need to seek the appropriate permissions from their home motorsport governing body. An official letter stating an applicant has never previously held a race licence and giving them permission to race will normally suffice. Overseas nationals requiring information on their national motorsport governing body can find details of their affiliated clubs via the
FIA website

Preparing for your first race
Those who have successfully applied for a National B Competition Licence (see Racing Requirements) are now ready to take to the circuit. But are they ready for their first race?

It's a fact that, in every sport, it pays to have some coaching from a professional. Neither millions of miles on the open road nor a hundred track days will prepare you for the reality of competitive racing. Before taking to the circuit for your first race, either a racing course or some one-to-one driver coaching with a school or qualified instructor is strongly recommended.

Rookies can always learn through their own experiences and mistakes but this will take time and, in motor racing, mistakes can be costly. With proper training under the belt beginners will improve rapidly as well be safer and enjoy far better race results.

For starters, it's vitally important for any rookie to get accustomed to race day procedures, race starts, qualifying and so forth.

The best way to achieve this is come along to a round of the Club’s motorsport and speak to the competitors and preparers who are involved. You will find them very approachable and you will be able to benefit from their experiences. You will often find somebody on the day that has recently been through a similar experience, recently. So their advice will be but relevant and recently acquired.