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Episode 27

What If You Don’t Want To Drive In Circles?

Sure, circuit racing is the most common, most popular form of motorsport, but what’s out there if you want to do something different?

In the first six months of this blog, I’ve pretty much exclusively spoken about circuit racing. However, circuit racing is just one of many different classes of motorsport, and whilst I certainly have the intention of competing on track alongside my competitors, some of you reading this blog may not share the same interest.

With that in mind, how do other categories of motorsport compare in availability and price? Is traditional circuit racing really the best way for me to go, or should I be striving to race in rallycross, hill climb or rally? Let’s find out.

First up, it’s the class of motorsport I’d certainly choose as my personal second choice: it’s Rallycross.

27. What If You Don't Want to Drive in Circles?
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From my research, it seems that the entry point into rallycross is the Swift Rallycross Championship. Using cars based on 2006-2010 Suzuki Swift Sports, the cars use standard engines (albeit with spec ECUs), standard gearboxes and standard brakes, meaning the cars are cost effective to prepare and run, whilst also using controlled tyres, limited to six per round. The Swift championship also boasts the largest grids on the British Rallycross scene, meaning healthy levels of competition.

In terms of pricing, membership cost is £100 for the season, whilst entry costs £380-£450 for each event. Considering there were originally nine planned rounds in 2020, meaning the total season costs would have been £3,520. Pretty cheap, I would say. On the flip side, however, stand the travel costs. The main problem with rallycross stems from the fact there aren’t many facilities for it. Therefore, the venues for the 2020 British Rallycross are Lydden Hill in Kent, Pembrey in South Wales, Mondello Park in County Kildare, Ireland and Knockhill in Fife, Scotland. Not exactly on each other’s doorsteps, are they?

With the exception of the travelling costs, then, I’d say the Swift Rallycross Championship makes for a good introduction to the Rallycross discipline, especially considering the race organisers offer an arrive-and-drive package if you want a taster, or just can’t justify owning your own car.

27. What If You Don't Want to Drive in Circles?
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Next up, Hill Climb. Immediately, hill climb seems to be the most inclusive form of motorsport I’ve researched so far. For starters, hill climb events occur up and down the country, and the class structure of competitions means you can enter in pretty much any vehicle you wish, even the one you turn up in. Many hill climb events are one-offs, too, meaning you could enter as many or as few events as you please, and the only costs would be the initial entry fee into your hill climb club, and each subsequent event.

Based on this, I’d very much class hill climb as a much more relaxed form of motorsport. For sure, it could get extremely competitive, for example in the headline British Hill Climb Championship, but the grassroots elements seem much less formal.

Finally, let’s have a look at entry level Rallying competitions. For clarity, I’m going to be referring to Stage Rallying, rather than Road Rallies. More specifically still, the BTRDA Rally Championship.

27. What If You Don't Want to Drive in Circles?
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The 2020 BTRDA Rally Series was due to include seven events, mostly around the Lake District and North Wales, whilst also featuring other areas in the North of England. Within the BTRDA are many sub-championships involving a myriad of classes, meaning a vast spectrum of machinery can enter. Whilst I haven’t been able to find specific event entry costs due to the cancellation of all 2020 rallies, the pricing for membership works out at £80 for drivers and £50 for co-drivers, which I personally see as quite reasonable.

Due to the abundance of classes, there’s also ample opportunity for silverware, which is always aids motivation, especially when you’re just starting out in motorsport. Therefore, whilst geographically I don’t live in the best location to join this series myself, I’m sure it’s a great opportunity for someone who lives further north than I do.

There we go then, proof that circuit racing isn’t the only option for motorsport and, depending on where you live, there’s even some pretty strong arguments to say that it may not even be the best option for motorsport either. Certainly, I may have to look into running a one-off Swift Rallycross event at Lydden Hill if the situation allows, because it’s a class of motorsport I’ve always enjoyed watching, and something I would undoubtedly enjoy, even if I am terrible!

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