Motorsport On A Budget: How Hard Can It Be?
After a bit of research and a few conversations with drivers, I've gathered some tips and tricks for those who want to get involved in motorsport, but don't have a six-figure salary.
Like many, my interest and passion for motorsport sprouted at a young age, as I was spending the weekends of my childhood in the grandstands on a drizzly day, watching my father thrashing his modified Alfa Romeo around Silverstone. I spent many years dreaming of getting behind the wheel of lightweight single-seaters and stripped out GT3 cars, however, came to the bitter realisation of how expensive the world of racing can be. However, recently I got to thinking: Surely there’s a more affordable way to do it.
No doubt that the absolute rock-bottom, cheapest way to get behind the wheel is to take up karting or Esports Simulator-racing. However, I understand that most of you reading want the 'real-deal'. After speaking to a multitude of drivers, I discovered that a good route to go down would be club racing, if you truly want to scratch your motorsport itch. One of the main advantages of club racing is that you have complete control over the car you buy and how you make it race-ready. You can be as budget as possible, and still achieve countless smiles-per-gallon around the racetrack. There are a vast amount of clubs and championships out there, so no matter what you want to race, they'll be something for you.
Graham Seager, GTV V6
Now, lets get down to the nitty-gritty question of money. Despite Italian cars' reputation of being expensive to run, I found one of the least expensive clubs to be the 750 Motor Club Alfa Romeo Championship. Who wouldn't love to push a beautiful Italian sports car to its limits? A fully built and race-ready second-hand Alfa Romeo costs competitors an average of £5,500. This cost can be reduced by selling the car’s interior and stereo systems, along with any extra parts you don't need. I won't hide the fact that the initial costs of equipment, licences and safety clothing are pretty hard to stomach. Here is a brief list, provided by the coordinator, Andrew Robinson:
Race-prepared secondhand car: £5500
Second Hand trailer: £900
Safety clothing/helmet/HANS device: £950
Medical/ARDS test/MSA Licence:£600
Fuel (races and travel): £3100
Race Entries BRSCC: £3400
Consumables (oil, brake pads, etc) £800
Contingency budget: £1500 (repairs etc.)
Total = £18,350
Ouch! Although remember, most of this hefty figure is made up of initial costs.
Andrew went on to explain "Once you've got a race car, trailer and safety clothing the annual figure would be c. £10,800. (Safety clothing usually has to be replaced every few years, not every year.) The ARDS test only has to be done once and an annual medical report is normally only required once you are aged 45 and over". He also noted "Please note that these are start-up costs based on current figures. Once you've got a race car, trailer, race licence and safety clothing they will last a few years barring major issues/problems. On the other hand, if you have major mechanical problems and/or bodywork damage the figures can quickly increase above the Contingency budget above significantly".
Richard Ford, 156 T.Spark
Club-racing enthusiast, Richard Ford, has motorsport deep-rooted in his family tree. Richard grew up watching his father compete in hill-climbs and became involved in the 750-Motorclub Alfa Romeo Championship through his brother in 2014. He said “it was a bit like… well… I might have a go at this”. Six years later and Richard has entered to do a full season for 2020 and was keen to share his tips on how to make club-racing as affordable as possible. Richard convinced the company he works for to sponsor him and has built a relationship with an Alfa Romeo parts dealer, which he says is “always helpful”. He explained that “one of the biggest things is being able to do as much work as you can yourself” and “always buy parts second hand, there are so many bargains to be had”. Richard also points out that “how you run your tyres is a major factor”, meaning that the compounds you choose and how aggressively you drive can hugely affect your spending on slicks. Richard’s brother, James, “runs on the same tyres for many, many races”, and he has “no idea how, but it works for him and saves quite a bit of money”.
Whilst motorsport is, by no means, a ‘cheap’ hobby, the misconception that you must be a multi-millionaire to satisfy your inner petrol-head simply isn’t true. If you are willing to commit your time and energy into the sport, you don’t need a six-figure salary to be competitive. The message I want you to take away from this, is don’t let financial circumstances be a barrier to fulfilling your dream. With careful planning, care and initiative, anyone can see themselves out on the track.