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Episode 6

“Where Am I Racing?”

With the season fast approaching, now seems the perfect time to discuss where I’ll be racing.

Finally, we have survived January. By the weekend, we will be 10% of the way through 2020. With this in mind, I feel this week is an ideal opportunity to set out my list of deciding factors concerning what racing series I enter next year, and explain why each factor is important to me.

Whilst the majority of these factors are in no particular order, there is of course one fundamental barrier to certain competitions. Price. One of the unique aspects of this blog is that I am striving to make this journey independent of ‘the bank of Mum & Dad’, in an attempt to prove that motorsport is not quite as elitist as it’s made out to be. Ultimately, bringing in sponsors will hopefully provide assistance to cover costs, but the potential cashflow from these avenues can be unpredictable, and the revenue gained is most likely supplementary in value.

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As a result, the upper boundary of total costs for the year is likely to be £45,000. Having said that it is highly likely that even this number is unattainable, but best-case-scenario is around this figure. By total costs I should clarify this really is all inclusive, for instance the year’s petrol and tyre costs, costs of extra parts and maintenance, and transportation to and from events.

The second most important consideration is following. After all, my plan is to document this racing journey, yet if I’m competing in a class that nobody has ever heard of, that doesn’t exactly match my goal. I want to prove that, with hard work and sacrifices, it is possible to make it into well-known racing series, and racing in a series supporting high-profile, national championships like the BTCC or British GT is an attainable target. Maybe not immediately, but it may be a good level of exposure to strive for.

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The next few considerations to be made relate to the cars themselves. In some series it is very easy for a select few racers to dominate proceedings, all because they were able to invest more into their car’s preparation. In some series there is nothing stopping competitors from rebuilding their engines after each round. Clearly, this is not a practice I would be able to afford, and therefore I would be immediately disadvantaged before the car is even fired up.

To combat this, I am looking at series in which vehicles are closely regulated. It is likely this requirement will limit myself to single-manufacture series, where all maintenance is completed to an equivalent standard at a standardised price. Following on from this, a series that perhaps utilises under-stressed componentry is desirable. This would further reduce in-season maintenance costs, as cars would be more reliable due to parts being less liable to failure.

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The last category of consideration amounts to personal preferences in terms of what I would like to drive. In an ideal environment, I would prefer to race a rear-wheel drive car. This is mostly from the standpoint that this is what all top-level racing cars (excluding rally cars etc which are 4-wheel drive) use as their drivetrain, but partly because I currently daily-drive a front-wheel drive hatchback, so if I was to race one too my brain may find it hard to distinguish between road-driving and track-driving, potentially leading to some less-than-sensible B-road endeavours…

Finally, I would prefer not to drive a converted road-car chassis. Vehicles developed with track driving in mind are, in general, much more rigid in their shell and possess better dynamic qualities in comparison to stripped out road cars. What I mean is I don’t see the value in taking a 15-year old BMW 320i and hooning it around. For starters, a car of that class doesn’t fit in with the other considerations listed above, as the modifications completed in making it race ready would fluctuate hugely from racer to racer to start with. That does not mean the car I race can’t be road legal though. Machines like Caterhams or Ariel Atoms are prime examples of track-biased, number-plate owning weapons, of which I would be thrilled to drive.

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So there we have it, what I am specifically studying when considering where to race in the next year. A few of the coming episodes will contain in depth reviews of the racing series I am looking at potentially entering, where I will dive in to whether they fit my requirements. It will be interesting to see which tops the chart by the end of the year, and which I’ll be a part of in the future…

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