Episode 22

The Ultimate Guide To Helmets

Do you know your Snell from your Bell? Your HANS from your hands? Your Nomex from your Spandex? This is The Ultimate Guide to Racewear!

When you’re starting out in the world of motorsport, it’s easy to become confused about the variety of different racewear standards, and which ones apply to you. After all, if I hop onto the Demon Tweeks website and go to the ‘Helmets’ category, I’m faced with no less than eight approval standards. EIGHT!

Therefore, I’ve decided it’s time to create a single document that outlines exactly what you need to wear for different disciplines of MotorsportUK licenced National racing, and how much it’ll cost. This is the first instalment of “The Ultimate Guide” into racewear.

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DISCLAIMER

The following information is a summary compiled from the MotorsportUK 2020 Yearbook. If you are unsure about purchasing equipment, please refer to the Yearbook, and ask a reputable retailer. The following guide, although correct to the best of my knowledge, should not be taken as gospel.

This week: helmets. A good-condition head is pretty vital for people to function as they should both on and off the race track, and so it should be your top priority to protect yours at all costs. Therefore, it’s really important that you’re buying a product that is proven to be effective in the sort of crash you might unfortunately find yourself in. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what sort of lid you need.

If you are purchasing equipment for a Bambino, Cadet or under-15 Kart driver, you should be searching for helmets that, at the very least, meet SNELL-FIA CMR2007, SNELL-FIA CMS2007, SNELL-FIA CMR2016 or SNELL-FIA CMS2016 standards. It is imperative, however, that the helmet must not weigh more than 1,550g, due to the forces on these young driver’s necks.

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If you’re an adult who’s karting, or a younger driver partaking in National Junior Drag Racing, you should be looking at helmets that adhere to any of the standards above, or SNELL K2015 is also permitted. SNELL K2010 is permitted for now, however the standard is not valid after 2023, whereas every other standard mentioned up to this point has no current expiry date.

Helmets that adhere to these standards start at around £240 (such as this OMP KJ-8 EVO), but can cost over £1,000 (VAT inclusive) for a full bells-and-whistles carbon-fibre lid, such as this Stilo ST5F N KRT (catchy name, I know!). A good mid-range offering would be the Stilo ST5 CMR at around £375, as it is extremely light at 1.2kg, SNELL-FIA CMR2016 approved, and comes in a variety of shell and lining colours. Alternatively, you are allowed to use any helmet that meets one of the car standards below, meaning you don’t need two helmets for karting and car racing.

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Now, having such a large price range may lead to further questions, such as “how much money should I spend on my helmet?” Of course, I can’t give a specific answer to that question, because every one of you reading this will have a different budget, but I can give one piece of advice. If you’re caught between spending extra on your suit, gloves, boots etc or your helmet, think about which body part is most valuable to you, and spend the extra money protecting that bit. Chances are, it’s your head.

Stepping up from karts into cars, and there are currently seven permitted standards mentioned in the MotorsportUK 2020 Yearbook. FIA 8860-2004 is permitted, however will not be allowed after 2020, so I wouldn’t recommend buying one of these. SNELL SA2010 and SNELL SAH2010 approved helmets are fine for use until the end of 2023, and SNELL SA2015 are permitted until the end of 2026.

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I would personally recommend choosing a helmet that complies with one of the standards that do not currently have an expiry date, though. These standards are FIA 8860-2010, FIA 8859-2015 or SNELL SA2020. Recently the FIA published their 8860-2018 standard which isn’t present in the MotorsportUK Yearbook, however I have been informed by a member of their technical team that helmets meeting this standard are also allowed.

Helmets that meet one of these latter standards can range wildly in price, all the way from £270 (for this Race Safety Accessories lid) to nearly £5,700 for this carbon Stilo! I would say for a good quality, entry level helmet the Sparco Air Pro RF-5W is a great shout at £500, and the Bell GTX3 is a very good entry-level carbon-fibre offering at just under the £1000 mark.

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When buying a helmet, making sure yours meets the correct standard is not the only consideration. It’s vital you buy the correct size for your head, and that it fits nice and snugly. After all, if you did end up in a crash, your helmet wouldn’t do much good if it was super loose and just flew off, would it?

So, in summary, any helmet that fits any of these standards is permissible for use in UK National events:

  • FIA 8860-2004 (not after 31.12.20)
  • SNELL SA2010 (not after 31.12.23)
  • SNELL SAH2010 (not after 31.12.23)
  • SNELL SA2015 (not after 31.12.26)
  • FIA 8860-2010
  • FIA 8859-2015
  • SNELL SA2020
  • FIA 8860-2018
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If you’re taking part in Karting events or Junior Drag Racing you can use any of the above or helmets that fit these standards:

  • SNELL K2010 (not after 31.12.23)
  • SNELL K2015
  • SNELL-FIA CMR2007
  • SNELL-FIA CMS2007
  • SNELL-FIA CMR2016
  • SNELL-FIA CMS2016

Although, if you’re a Kart racer under 15, a Cadet or a Bambino, you need one of these helmets, and it must not weigh more than 1,550g:

  • SNELL-FIA CMR2007
  • SNELL-FIA CMS2007
  • SNELL-FIA CMR2016
  • SNELL-FIA CMS2016

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Enjoyed reading this article? Let us know your thoughts with a comment below! All that’s needed is an email address, and don’t worry, there’ll be no junk mail!

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Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (click the icons at the top)! Our socials are the best place to get all the latest #RacingGrind information, so check them out!

Episode 21

“Designing McLaren’s F1 Race Suits?”

With their latest competition, it’s almost as if McLaren have been reading my recent blog posts!

Last Friday McLaren and Sparco launched a competition for their fans. Now, normally, news of a company creating a competition isn’t exactly worthy of an article, but this one is different. After all, for most competitions all you have to do is sign up to a mailing list or like a post on social media, and the winner is picked randomly. Not for this competition, though. This competition actually rewards creativity.

The task is pretty simple, so in the words of McLaren themselves:

“To be in with a chance of winning, download the Sparco Race Suit template, design your own race suit and send your design to McLaren’s social channels. The winner will be chosen by McLaren from all entries received.”

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As an absolute sucker for competitions, paired with the fact I had a go at designing my own race suit a few weeks ago (which you can see here), I thought this was right up my street, so naturally I used a portion of my weekend creating the best entry I could think of. The result? You can see for yourself here:

My #RacingGrind entry into the McLaren & Sparco race suit competition

With my design, I wanted to pluck design themes from both the current McLaren branding and my own. After all, it’s a McLaren competition with the McLaren sponsors plastered all over it, and so I had to keep it recognisably McLaren to an extent, whilst tying in my Living The Racing Grind brand. Luckily, the colour orange is prominent in both the McLaren race team and my own logo. The only slight complication arose from the contrasting shades of orange, so I decided I wouldn’t use either specific shade. Instead? Traffic cone orange.

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The main way I have implemented the orange is by adapting a design idea I had when creating my initial #RacingGrind concepts, by creating a sort of spiral transition up the legs. This time, however, I chose not to make the colour transition a sharp line, but instead utilised the tapering line theme used on the current McLaren Formula 1 race suits. Personally, I also think this gives the suits a nice, modern look which breaks the mould a bit, too.

The tip of the transitional pattern is also seen at the top of the suit, with a slight intrusion of orange coming off of the left shoulder. But anyway, back to the legs. At the bottom of the left leg, I have inserted a little black outline of the #RacingGrind motif, as a little touch that isn’t immediately visible. Over on the right left, I have added large #RacingGrind branding in the contrasting grey colour found on my logo.

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Other grey touches you will see on the suit include the little corner accents by the shoulder tabs, and another transition on the forearms, within which the Richard Mille logos sit. This transition once again utilises the tapered lines idea, and makes a good alternative to the block colour change featured on the real-life race suits.

Finally, I have created an imitation of the current number font used by McLaren to add my preferred number, 99, on the back, and the last touch I added was a whacking great big Living The Racing Grind logo, front and centre, on the chest. After all, it’s an area used for sponsorship branding, so I’ll happily place my brand onto a McLaren race suit!

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Well there you have it, a full explanation of my entry into the McLaren & Sparco “Design Your Own Race Suit” competition. So far a lot of very good entries have already been submitted by other people, so whilst I’d love to be one of the two winners and have this suit make in into reality, I’m not holding out any hope.

What do you think, though?

Are you planning to enter the competition?

Let me know with a comment down below!

***

Enjoyed reading this article? Let us know your thoughts with a comment below! All that’s needed is an email address, and don’t worry, there’ll be no junk mail!

Excited about the #RacingGrind? Sign up to our mailing list to receive every new post straight to your inbox, as soon as it’s published!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (click the icons at the top)! Our socials are the best place to get all the latest #RacingGrind information, so check them out!

Episode 20

“What’s Next For Vettel?”

The first actual motorsport news in months has created a media frenzy, and here I am jumping on the bandwagon!

A slightly different blog post this week, but considering the timing of this news (being officially announced the day before my blog day) it would be quite short-sighted of me not to comment on the only notable piece of motorsport news we’ve had in an eternity, so here’s yet another Sebastian Vettel-centric article for you to gorge on:

By now you will most likely have been made aware of the news that the Ferrari Formula 1 team will not be renewing its contract with star driver Sebastian Vettel. The 4-time World Champion will, as a result, leave the Italian team at the conclusion of the 2020 F1 season. Now, the majority of articles written during the fallout of this news centre around the vacancy at Ferrari, but I want to discuss the future that surrounds the driver.

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Below are a few different potential futures for the German, and I have attempted to evaluate the likelihood of each one becoming his chosen path.

Singapore 2019 – Seb’s last F1 win?
  • Join another Formula 1 team:

I’ll start off with the sensible scenarios, otherwise everyone will think I’ve been ingesting something funny during lockdown and immediately cease reading. So then, could Vettel join another Formula 1 team? Seats at the other two top teams are almost certainly unavailable, as the Red Bull boss, Helmut Marko, has specified he doesn’t want to pay for two lead drivers, and Mercedes are unlikely to disturb the harmonious environment Lewis Hamilton has managed to create around himself. Even if either Hamilton or Bottas were to make the shock switch to the vacant red seat, Merc have both George Russell and Esteban Ocon on their books (although Ocon technically isn’t), so Vettel would by no means next in line to pilot a silver car.

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This means Sebastian would have to settle for a midfield outfit. Renault, being the fourth factory outfit, could potentially offer Vettel a deal, especially considering Ricciardo is one of the favourites for the Ferrari seat and Renault have a history of signing headline drivers. Sebastian, however, may be deterred by the lack of improvement the Enstone outfit showed last season.

McLaren would seem like the other sensible midfield choice. Until last season the Woking-based team also liked to have a star driver in their line-up, and they currently hold the other front-runner for the Ferrari vacancy. However, I don’t think the papaya-liveried manufacturer would be as forthcoming as many expect them to be. After seeing the leap forward they made last season after eradicating large-ego’s from their personnel, I would have thought they would be cautious in potentially signing another. To compound this, I don’t think Vettel would relish the possibility of being outshone by another young driver in Norris, considering he left both Red Bull and Ferrari immediately after he was beaten by a younger, less experienced teammate.

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Going through the rest of the teams on the grid, we get to Aston Martin/Racing Point. With Lawrence Stroll’s investment the team they should make big strides to the top of the midfield, if not further, and there’s no doubt that Seb’s experience would help the team maximise their machinery. Daddy Stroll would certainly be able to afford Vettel’s wage demands too, however would the veteran really want the challenge? I don’t think the team would see tangible results in the next few years, at which point Vettel would definitely be too old.

Finally, could Vettel replace Raikkonen at Alfa/Sauber? I could see Kimi retiring at the end of the year, at which point Seb would be a brilliant replacement to fulfil the same role and mentor the Ferrari rookies, but once again would he really be willing to? He said in his statement that money was not a factor in the Ferrari deal breaking up, and I don’t see him sticking around just to collect a pay check. His legacy as a four-time world champion would be damaged too much if he was to stick around for longer than he needs to, so I could see this happening for a year or so, but not for much longer than that.

The look of a man who’s tired of Formula 1?
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  • Retire from Formula 1:

I think this is probably the most likely scenario, after all, his statement read “these past few months have led many of us to reflect on what are our real priorities in life.” Having recently become a father, maybe this means F1 isn’t his priority anymore? It would be a real shame to see him leave the grid, as his personality outside of the car is almost universally loved by fans, media and drivers alike.

But what would he do if he retired? First and foremost, I expect he would immediately spend large amounts of time with his family as, other than during this lockdown, being an F1 driver naturally means a lot of time travelling, and so a lot of time away from home. Longer term, however, there are a few different paths he could go down:

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Naturally, as a four-time Formula 1 World Champion, there would be a fair few motorsport teams that would like him on their books. Combining this with the 2022 rule changes for the World Endurance Championship, could we see him take a year out before returning in an LMDh prototype, or even an LMH Hypercar? This would be the perfect marquee signing to boost the WEC’s profile, and a substantially less-crowded calendar would reduce the strain of travelling. Finding a team wouldn’t be too difficult, either, as Porsche are evaluating a potential return to the championship. A German headline driver in a German team vying to win their 20th Le Mans? Sounds like a good plan to me. I don’t think that he would join Formula E, nor would he venture into the world of rallying, so endurance racing is almost certainly his best bet.

If he was to turn his back completely on racing, could he become a pundit? Well, whilst being fluent in German (obviously), English and Italian, he would be perfectly suited to be picked up by many different broadcasters on odd weekends, and his humour is widely appreciated. His inside knowledge of the elusive Ferrari environment would also be a wonderful insight for the wider audience, and if he was able to pick and choose his weekends (which you would expect), this would be a brilliant way for him to phase out of the F1 bubble, too.

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Finally, and this is really quite unlikely, he could take the Nico Rosberg approach to F1 retirement. Since the former Mercedes man retired at the end of the 2016 season, he has successfully become a full-time YouTuber, boasting 701,000 subscribers. Yes, I do realise how ridiculous this suggestion is, considering Vettel doesn’t partake in social media in any form, but don’t you think his personality would just shine in an online video format?

So, whilst this may be the end of Vettel’s Ferrari career, it certainly isn’t the end of his motorsport career. What do you think, though? Where do you envision Vettel in 2021? At another F1 team? In another racing series? Taking a sabbatical? Let me know with a comment below!

***

Enjoyed reading this article? Let us know your thoughts with a comment below! All that’s needed is an email address, and don’t worry, there’ll be no junk mail!

Excited about the #RacingGrind? Sign up to our mailing list to receive every new post straight to your inbox, as soon as it’s published!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (click the icons at the top)! Our socials are the best place to get all the latest #RacingGrind information, so check them out!

Episode 19

“My Ultimate Race Track”

If I was in charge of making my own race circuit, with no limitations, what would I come up with? The result is interesting, to say the least…

Another week in lockdown, and another week of my mind’s creativity running amok. This week’s result? My ultimate racetrack.

The rules for this task are simple: Chop up my favourite corners/sections from existing tracks around the world, and combine them into a single, long mega-track.

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Bonus points are awarded for keeping each section proportionally correct (thus keeping the profile of each corner identical to reality), keeping the speeds of each corner the same as real life (as opposed to putting Eau Rouge 20m down the road from a hairpin, which would completely negate the challenge of the corner), and also for not having to resort to adding sections to make the track fit together (in other words, try to make 100% of the track real, with no made-up bits connecting it).

Before I get into my creation, I should first credit a couple of people for the initial idea: Will Buxton (F1 Media powerhouse, his article is here) and a YouTube channel called Tommo F1 (His video on this subject is here). I will stress a slight point of adaptation on my part, though. Those two tracks were built from F1 circuits, with F1 cars in mind. My course, on the other hand, is built more with GT3 machinery in mind, and has sampled tarmac from all manner of circuits.

A selection of race tracks, to scale, that I had at my disposal…
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Without further ado, my design lifts corners (or more realistically, corner combinations) from twelve circuits, situated on five continents around the world. Specifically, we have:

The twelve circuits I chose to create my concoction…
  • Circuit Of The Americas (Austin, Texas, USA)
  • Interlagos (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
  • Silverstone (Northamptonshire, UK)
  • Brands Hatch (Kent, UK)
  • Algarve (Portimao, Portugal)
  • Spa-Francorchamps (Middle-of-Nowhere, Belgium)
  • Monaco (well, Monaco)
  • Hockenheimring (Germany)
  • Red Bull Ring (Spielberg, Austria)
  • Suzuka (Japan)
  • Fuji Speedway (Japan)
  • Mount Panorama (Bathurst, Australia)

Some tracks, I’m sure you would expect to see on the list. Some of the others, though, are a little more left field. Why have I made each choice? I’ll explain as I walk you through the mighty Clarkodrome. Speaking of which, this is what it looks like:

The Clarkodrome, in its full glory!
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So, initially, you’ll notice that it’s an anticlockwise circuit. To be honest, there wasn’t any specific reasoning behind that, it was just a happy accident that occurred when I was stitching the track together. You’ll also notice it’s quite a long circuit, and I would estimate lap times around the 3-minute mark in a GT3 car.

Racing across the start/finish line then, and your first challenge is the steep uphill of turn 1 at COTA. The rise up allows a late braking point before the apex, and the fall back down the hill into the flat-out turn 2 provides a good acceleration zone.

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After turn 2, you’re racing down into the Eau Rouge-Radillon section of Spa. It’s a legendary combination, and just had to be part of my Clarkodrome concoction. After the little kink at the start of the Kemmel straight, though, there’s a new challenge…

Hitting the brakes hard whilst still applying a hint of lock, you’re onto the legendary Mount Panorama. Up Griffin’s Bend and squirting the throttle towards The Cutting, you’re about to traverse the entirety of the hill. The crest is at Skyline, before the plummeting sequence of The Esses and The Dipper throw you from wall to wall trying to carry as much speed as you dare. By reaching Forrest’s Elbow, you’ve hopefully emerged unscathed.

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It’s not the Conrod Straight that greets you yet, however, as you’ve entered Austria instead. The right-hand double that is Rindt and A1 (the last 2 corners) are, in my opinion at least, extremely underrated corners. The track dips down just before Rindt, before compressing on the apex of A1, giving an uphill exit. The amount of speed that you can carry through these two corners is incredible and provides a good test of a driver’s skills (and cojones).

Rising up out of Austria, we’re suddenly transported to Suzuka, and the run down to Spoon. It’s a tricky corner, Spoon, as it’s quite a long corner with two apexes, but I like the challenge, and that’s why it’s made its way onto the Clarkodrome.

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Out of Suzuka, and we’re back to the mountain. The long Conrod Straight, before the right-left-right chicane of The Chase. A brilliant overtaking spot, as you flick through the initial right before stamping on the anchors.

Out of The Chase, you’ve managed to travel halfway across the world, to a little circuit in Kent. You’re climbing the pit straight at Brands Hatch, where you have to manage the tricky Paddock Hill bend followed by the brilliantly named Druids. Unfortunately, you don’t get the fast Graham Hill Bend after, though. No, you get something even trickier: the last two corners from the Fuji Speedway.

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Much like Spoon and Paddock Hill, these are two more corners that are long and challenging, and I think the number of different lines available presents a good overtaking spot, even at low speeds.

Out of the final turn at Fuji then, and you’re onto the wonderful Portimao Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, with the hugely thrilling hill on the little straight which, at high speed, can lend itself to a little jump, before the wonderful compression of Turn 9 (which, for the purposes of this, is now also a tunnel), and then to top it all off you’ve got the delightfully tricky Turn 10/11, where you almost have to forget 10 in order to maximise your line for 11.

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Sprinting out of Portimao, you enter sunny Northamptonshire, and the legendary Maggots and Becketts complex. No Hangar straight here, though, as you’re straight back onto the brakes with the final two turns at Hockenheim, complete with ice rink run-off.

Admittedly, Hockenheim was not originally part of this, however the corner profile was required to complete the loop and, considering all the action that unfolded at these corners during the 2019 German GP, I’m all for it.

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Out of Germany, you’re transported to the glitzy Monaco, as you deal with the tight Tabac corner, and the fast first half of the Swimming Pool complex, before emerging at the final braking point on the lap, Interlagos’ famous “is that Glock.” Sorry, forgot it’s not actually called that, it’s Juncao.

Out of Juncao, you’ve got the long uphill drag-race to the line to finish the magnificent (if I do say so myself) Clarkodrome lap.

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It’s got everything. Two humongous straights, fast corners, slow corners, a bridge & tunnel, and masses of undulation. Everything you could possibly want from a racing track, this has it. I think drivers would love it, as many points have no room for error, yet there’s plenty of overtaking spots for exciting racing, alongside many challenging twists that would make mastering a qualifying lap virtually impossible. With a mix of long straights and tight corners, I doubt any one car would have an overall advantage around here either.

What do you think? Do you think this would be fun to drive if it were real? Which corners are your must-haves in your own ultimate tracks?

Let me know with a comment below!

***

Enjoyed reading this article? Let us know your thoughts with a comment below! All that’s needed is an email address, and don’t worry, there’ll be no junk mail!

Excited about the #RacingGrind? Sign up to our mailing list to receive every new post straight to your inbox, as soon as it’s published!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (click the icons at the top)! Our socials are the best place to get all the latest #RacingGrind information, so check them out!

Episode 18

“How To Design A Race Suit”

When it comes to anything, branding is important. Making sure you’re known for your work is key, and so branding at every opportunity is vital.

This week I decided to put my new-found (and still extremely basic) Photoshop skills to the test, by creating a few concept ideas of what my very own #RacingGrind race suit could look like. After all, everyone has to wear an FIA-approved race suit when competing in in organised motorsport, all the way from entry-level MX-5’s right up to Formula 1. And with that in mind, why not have a suit that’s personalised?

I think it would be a brilliant opportunity to be a human advertising board – both for my sponsors and this blog itself. I say this because when I’m at a race meeting, I may not always be directly next to my car. Therefore, if I had a plain, unbranded suit on, people may not associate me with my car, my sponsors, my brand, ultimately defeating the point of having a wonderfully branded car in the first place. Having a branded suit also means that, if I were to step onto a podium, I would be able to celebrate whilst adorning the logos of the people/companies that made it possible for me to be there in the first place.

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With that said, let’s have a look at three potential designs for my first #RacingGrind race suit:

#RacingGrind 2021 Race Suit: Concept 1

Firstly, we have this design based on an OMP template. You will notice a few common ideas that carry through the three concepts – most clearly being the colour palate of black, grey and an orange gradient. The colour choice has been obtained from my logo, and is consistent with all of my other branding.

I also noticed that, when researching existing race suit designs, the area from the waist down is often under-utilised. I can understand why, as you very rarely see the driver’s legs in photos and you can’t see them at all when the driver is in the car, but I think that, for those very reasons, this area is free for a bit more creative freedom.

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As such, you can see a fading from black to orange, and back to black on the legs, whilst the left leg emblazons my name (a common feature on many race suits) and the right leg has an overlaying pattern formed by the chevron element in my logo.

Working our way up the suit, the Living The Racing Grind logo sits on my back, just below the level of my waist, whilst the #RacingGrind occupies the belt-area on the front. Just below this you’ll find my name and preferred racing number, all in the same font as my logo.

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The main chest area of the suit is left blank, as this is an area highly utilised by sponsors, whilst the chest area itself is neatly bordered by the chevrons from my logo. The main back area is another generally lesser-used area from a sponsorship perspective, and so I have employed the space to -once again – plug my own brand by smacking a huge incarnation of the logo’s motif. This is black on the orange gradient background, as I think this provides an interesting contrast to the orange-on-black you see across the rest of the suit. Finally, above the motif you see a Union Flag, to symbolise that I am British.

In terms of the arms, I have left these a plain black, as you often see a multitude of sponsor logos on these areas and too much else would create an extremely cluttered area.

Possible locations for sponsor logos to be embedded onto design 1
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Speaking of sponsors, you will see above I have added a variety of spaces that would be available for sponsor use, and of course if you’re reading this and think you would be interested in potentially sponsoring me during my motorsport exploits, please do not hesitate to get in touch over via RacingGrind@Hotmail.com.

#RacingGrind 2021 Race Suit: Concept 2

Moving on to the second initial design (made this time from a Sparco template), and you will see this is comparatively much less in-your-face. On this occasion I have opted for the grey to be the base layer, and I have chosen to add a subtle chevron pattern across the whole of the suit. In reality the colour difference between the pattern and the base colour would be much less, but I had to slightly increase the contrast for the purpose of computer screens.

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Once again starting from the legs, you will see the Union Flag (this time in full colour) sits down by the right ankle. This is not because I’m trying to hide it, but simply because that was the best place to fit it, honest! The design around the legs is one big tapered transition from a grey upper half to a black lower half, which is intended to form one continuous spiral if I stood with my legs together. A couple of little touches include my logo’s motif on the left knee, and my preferred driver number on the right thigh. This time, I have managed to fit a full website address in, albeit across my rear-end.

The black taper comes to a point around the belt area, where you once again see my name and the #RacingGrind, although I think they look a bit more interesting this time, as they are both angled.

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The front is once again left blank for sponsor use, whilst this time I have opted for the full Living The Racing Grind logo to take pride of place across my shoulder blades. The Sparco template has an added advantage of creating an extra medium-sized sponsor area on the small of my back too, which is an added bonus.

Onto the arms, and this time I have decided to add a touch of orange, with colours neatly transitioned by way of chevrons.

Possible locations for sponsor logos to be embedded onto design 2
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This design is certainly more understated, but with a base of grey, you could argue it is also blander, and could potentially blend into a background (just like that infamous Manchester United kit). I do prefer the design I have created around the legs, and I think the subtle chevron patterning would be a great little up-close detail on a real suit, too. With that said, above is how the design would look with a full set of sponsors.

#RacingGrind 2021 Race Suit: Concept 3

The third and final design I have is an amalgamation of my favoured sections of each of the two previous suits.

I preferred the black base colour, but I also thought the discrete base pattern was a good idea, so you will see a black pattern on a black background. I kept the spiral transition from design two, however I have inverted the colours to keep a contrast with the base. I also decided to move the number over to the other thigh, so I could add a large print of my name up the right leg.

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For the chest and back, I have effectively replicated design number one, as I like the way the chevrons give emphasis to the main sponsors, just like it gives emphasis to the centre of my logo. Finally, I carried over the arm design from concept two, as I personally think having plain black arms wouldn’t really fit with the loud nature of the rest of the design, and the orange serves well to emphasise the larger sponsor logos that would adorn my forearms.

Possible locations for sponsor logos to be embedded onto design 3

There you have it then, three potential race suit designs for my inaugural motorsport campaign in 2021. As I write this, I’m leaning towards design three, however there’s still a long period of time before any of these could become a reality, so a lot could change between now and then…

What do you think? Which would you pick, or what would you change? Let me know with a comment below!

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Episode 17

Winning a $1 Million Drive?

Despite being in lockdown, thousands are racing each other in the hope of securing a race seat worth $1,000,000. I’m one of them, and you can be too!

Now, when it comes to this journey of mine, my #RacingGrind, I’m realistically looking at an entry-level series to race in. After all, I don’t really know if I’ll be any good yet, so diving into an elite competition would be stupid, and that’s if I could afford it in the first place, which I can’t.

But what if I am good enough already? What if, somehow, I am just as quick as the professionals, if not quicker? What if I have all this talent, and yet it’s being wasted through a lack of opportunity? There must be some way, somehow, for me to prove this talent to someone, right?

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Luckily, there is! Better yet, I (or you for that matter) don’t need a full, top-of-the-range sim-rig that costs thousands of pounds. All I need is my smartphone.

Three years ago, Darren Cox – creator of the Nissan GT Academy competition – devised the World’s Fastest Gamer competition. The objective is simple: take the fastest virtual drivers from a selection of video games, fly them to America (in this instance Miami), and put them through a series of racing, fitness and personality tests. The prize for the winner of this competition? A season of professionally racing GT3 machinery in the GT World Challenge, a prize worth US$1 million!

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So how does this relate to you or me, and our smartphones? Well, last week, qualifying for the third iteration of World’s Fastest Gamer began, using a free-to-play smartphone game called Gear.Club. In order to qualify, you must complete two time-trials in the Koenigsegg Agera RS, and have the fastest combined time at the end of the entry period. Easy, right?

If you want to enter yourself, the competition opened on April 15th, and runs until May 6th, so you have just under 2 weeks to download the game and perfect your times. But what if you don’t win? No worries, as this isn’t your only chance to get to the WFG3 finals. 2 more qualifying events are set to take place on the platform in the next couple of months, so there’s plenty of time to practice!

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Now, I found out about this competition last Thursday, just as the entry period opened. Personally, I had never even heard of the game before, let alone played it, but it’s a dream of mine to go racing nonetheless. Therefore, I downloaded the app immediately and set to work getting my times in.

Initially, I found the handling mechanics quite difficult to get used to, as it felt quite arcade-y in comparison to Real Racing 3, a mobile game I have played on-and-off for years. Knowing that this is probably my only way in to professional racing, though, I have devoted a fair amount of my last week getting used to the game, in order to maximise my chances.

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The game’s graphics are, for a mobile game, reasonably high quality. The “circuits” used aren’t real tracks, but fabricated street tracks, meaning it’s quite difficult to work out braking points, as there aren’t many reference points. The car itself is also tricky to initially master, as it’s prone to oversteer, especially at higher speeds. The means that occasionally you end up fishtailing down a straight before lightly grazing one of the walls, which magically returns you to a solid 15 mph regardless of your entry velocity. All of this combined means it’s not the easiest game to master, but the game is quite satisfying when you complete a good run. So, how have my times stacked up against the rest of the world? Quite good considering, I think.

In order to be placed on the leaderboard, you have to have a time inside the top 500 in the world on both time-trials. Sounds quite difficult, but I actually managed to put myself in that situation at the end of my first day on the game! Better yet, at the end of Saturday (day 3 on the game), one of my times made the top 100! Safe to say it’s actually remarkably easy to get used to the way the game works, even if it is difficult to master, which I’m not remotely close to doing.

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It’s worth noting that, in order to keep the playing field fairly level, attempts at setting times are limited by a ticket system. You can have a maximum of 5 tickets at any one time, and it takes 2 hours for a ticket to replenish. Therefore, I have been getting 10 daily attempts in, in two sets of 5. You could of course obtain more attempts, but these come at a cost – ranging from 79p for 5 extra tickets, all the way up to £43.99 for 375 extra tickets. I’d expect you’re only buying these if you feel confident of clinching first place, though.

Naturally, as more competitors have entered, my times have slipped down the standings a little, and at the time of writing I’m 122nd overall. A result I’d be happy with if the competition ended today, but that won’t stop me from striving for that top spot.

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Enjoyed reading this article? Let us know your thoughts with a comment below! All that’s needed is an email address, and don’t worry, there’ll be no junk mail!

Excited about the #RacingGrind? Sign up to our mailing list to receive every new post straight to your inbox, as soon as it’s published!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (click the icons at the top)! Our socials are the best place to get all the latest #RacingGrind information, so check them out!

Episode 16

“Is Coronavirus Affecting My #RacingGrind?”

Almost everyone and everything has been affected by Covid-19, so what has the virus meant for Living The Racing Grind?

The current worldwide situation is unprecedented in its global impact, with huge effects being felt on both humanitarian and economic levels. The vast majority of people, in the UK at least, aren’t even allowed to leave their homes unless they are performing one of a small number of permitted tasks, such as daily exercise or food shopping. As a result, most businesses have seen either a large reduction in service or have temporarily ceased trading in a bid to conserve their cashflow.

This is all information you most likely know already, but what does it mean for me and, more importantly, my #RacingGrind? Well, there are of course disadvantages, but there are also upsides for this blog. What exactly are they? Read on to find out.

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Firstly, the short-term disadvantages, and most notably, blog ideas. You would have already noticed that my #RaceWatch series has fallen flat, and frankly that is because there are no races to watch! Yes, I could work around that by reviewing sim races, however they do not interest me from a spectator viewpoint. Yes, I would love to compete, but watching virtual racing is not my cup of tea.

In terms of the main #RacingGrind blogs, you can probably tell from this article that these ideas are also starting to run dry. Actually, that’s a little unfair. I have plenty of ideas, but not many are possible to follow through with because of the current climate. This is because they may involve attending race meetings or car events, or simply because nobody is available to answer my research emails. As a result, there may be more design-related content coming in the next few weeks (such as helmet, race suit and livery designs), as this is content that I don’t rely on anyone bar myself to make.

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Another point to address concerns the cover photos. Up to this point, every photo used as the cover for each blog had been shot by myself or my father. Now, however, I have reached a point where I don’t have enough pictures in the bank, meaning I’m having to improvise. Where possible I will endeavour to continue to use first-hand imagery, although this might not be entirely possible, and so solutions such as this article’s cover will be utilised.

On to the advantages, and the most notable advantage is that of time. Current circumstances mean that I am able to invest much more time and effort into producing a much higher-quality blog. All aspects of the blog, such as website appearance and usability, social media content and blog marketing are all being reviewed, with the idea to improve ease of use, aesthetics and professionalism of the blog in all areas.

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Some changes have already started to occur, with new, bold templates having been rolled out on the @TheRacingGrind Instagram page, making each post unmistakably ours when seen by other users, whilst also providing more continuity on the profile page.

Of course, there are also long-term effects to come for most, if not all businesses. Whilst Living The Racing Grind itself is not a business, as there is no cashflow, our future plans are directly affected by other entities. One foreseeable issue is that of sponsorship. The notion of going racing in 2021 is entirely dependent on securing sufficient sponsorship, and with purse-strings being pulled tight by the virus, businesses will almost certainly have less cash on hand to spend on sponsorship.

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One thing to reiterate, though, is that this blog is all about a journey onto the racing grid. Every journey encounters hills, and all that’s required to scale those hills is a bit more effort. I still enjoy writing this blog, and so I’m still going to write it, no matter how many people read it. Thank you, though, to those of you who do take the time to digest my ramblings. I promise it’ll get better soon. And I’m not just talking about the blog.

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Enjoyed reading this article? Let us know your thoughts with a comment below! All that’s needed is an email address, and don’t worry, there’ll be no junk mail!

Excited about the #RacingGrind? Sign up to our mailing list to receive every new post straight to your inbox, as soon as it’s published!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (click the icons at the top)! Our socials are the best place to get all the latest #RacingGrind information, so check them out!