INTRODUCTION TO MOTORSPORT
A majority of motor clubs specialise in one or two forms of motorsport, though you will generally find that across the membership, most forms of the sport are covered. This is also the case with our club. Cheltenham Motor Club is primarily a “Rally” based club, but our members also compete & marshal at Races, Sprint’s, Hillclimb’s and more.
Our Club and its members are involved with motor sport at all levels, from Club events run locally to members competing as drivers, navigators or marshals at regional, national and international level.
As well as competitors our members also organise and/or marshal at a very diverse range of motorsport events; and it’s not only motorsport! In the past we’ve done the timing for Husky Dog racing and our rally timing equipment is quite often used on triathlons.
If you have a specific type of motorsport you’d like to be involved in then come and talk to us. Through our affiliation to the governing body of motorsport – the Motorsports Association (MSA) – I’m sure we can help you.
There is a huge range to choose from to suit all tastes & budgets. Below is a resume of various forms of motorsport offered by many Motor Clubs throughout the UK. Although some Clubs will specialise in a particular discipline, they all should be able to put you in touch with the right people.
(Auto-tests & Motor Gymkhanas)
This is grass routes Motorsport and ideal for a low budget. You can use any car with absolutely no modifications (may be best to take the shopping home first). Many clubs run these as fun Summer events. Generally held in a field or car park. Motor Gymkhana’s test your knowledge and skill with some very precise manoeuvres. Auto-tests follow a route around traffic cones and are generally timed with a stopwatch.
AutoSolos in the UK are based around the principles of autotesting, the main differences being that the tests are run only in a forward direction only and are usually slightly faster and more open & larger than traditional Autotests, the courses are laid out to run in one direction, its common for more than 1 car to be on the course at the same time.
Car trials involve driving up a hill between markers, the further you get the less penalties. These events may be held on in a field or on an unsealed track.
There are Regional & National Championships to compete in if you wish and with classes for some very specialist cars too.
A 12 Car Nav-Ex
The name of this event is derived from part of the Road Traffic Act, where no more than 12 cars can legally take the same route without special permission. The event puts the Table Top Rally into practice, you plot a route and drive it, around the route, made up of several sections, there will be Marshal points (Controls) and Code Boards (Letter or Number boards, usually cut up old number plates) for you to make a note of, this is to prove that you have driven the correct route, there is also a timing element.
Navigational Scatters are basically a cross between a 12 Car and a treasure hunt, but with no set route, you are given a number of map references, you plot them and visit them in the order that you think will be the most efficient, to prove that you have visited the locations you will either be asked a question about something at that location or there will be a code board with letters or numbers on it, just note it on the check sheet and proceed to the next location.
The Regularity rally
(also called time-speed-distance rally)
The object is to drive each section of a the course in a specified time at a specified average speed. The rally is usually conducted on public roads, but sometimes includes off-road and track sections. The skill is in navigating to a control point at the correct time. The Regularity rally does not depend on the abilities of the driver at high-speed, average speeds are normally quite low, for this reason, ordinary motor vehicles can be used. Commonly these events are held for classic or even vintage cars. Regularity rallying, therefore, is a far less expensive sport and can be enjoyed by a far greater spectrum of people.
You have all seen the World Rally events on the TV, obviously that is the top flight, very expensive, for the top few drivers & navigators. But every last one of them started Rallying at a lower level, You can start at the Entry level the Club Stage Rally. A one day event for about 60-70 cars upwards of 40 competitive miles, in various classes, usually part of a local/regional championship and just using, in the main one venue. Next up is the National Championship events, one or two day events, lots more miles, using more venues. More often than not these events are held on a disused airfields or MOD bases, or areas of woodland & country estate roads.
From this the progression is to the International Status events, again yet bigger events, using forestry or closed roads. Also expensive to enter & take part. From there World Rally.
If you are really into Stage Rallies but cannot afford it, how about helping out someone else, join a Service Crew/Support Team, you don’t necessarily have to get your hands dirty, they may need someone to drive the van or make the Sarnies.
No Motorsport event would exist without marshals, it is a great way to first get involved with the sport. You don’t have to own a car or even be able to drive and it’s not going to cost you a lot either. Club members marshal at all types of motorsport events, Classic Car runs, Production Car trials, Autotests, Stage & Navigational Rallies, Sprints, Hillclimbs, Races, at Club, National & International levels, locally, throughout the UK & Europe. You can get as involved as you wish. If you just want to go out on the odd local event or wish to progress through the ranks to event organisation, there is a wide range of training available from First Aid & Fire Training to Event Officials & Organisers.
Best way to get started is to join your local Club & buddy up with some experienced marshals.
A family afternoon out, use the shopping car, put the kids in the back and off you go. You will be given a set of route instructions with questions to answer (sometimes cryptic) whilst you are travelling around the route and usually some “Treasure” to collect, points will be awarded at the end, nice to finish these events with a BBQ.
A Touring Assembly
(or Classic/Scenic Tour)
A scenic tour is probably the best description. A drive out to places of interest, normally with a breakfast at the start venue, a coffee stop mid morning, a lunch halt, afternoon tea halt, then maybe finishing with an evening meal, after being sat in a car for a whole day, maybe it’s not an event for someone on a diet! The events are organised with a low average speed, you can stop off where & when you please, it’s very informal. Many classic groups run these events throughout the summer, they are very popular. Some tours are restricted to classic marques only, some are anything goes. No timing & no prizes.
Some event’s, for example, a lot of the HERO [Historic Endurance Rally Organisation] events, will also incorporate a competitive element, with a Targa type rally tests, or selectif’s as they can be called & maybe some regularity sections.
Are relatively new the UK, the MSA introduced the events in 2013. They are basically cheap single-venue events, using fairly standard cars (to Road Rally rules) timed to a 30mph average. They are more complex than an Auto-solo, involving driving tests similar to Historic and Endurance road rallies.
Table Top Rally
The Table top rally (no car required!) is a bit like a board game, usually held in the back room of a Pub or Village hall, you plot a route on a map from a selection of route plotting methods. They are sometimes used as just a fun event, or ideal for introducing people to map reading and navigating.
The event usually employs the same sort of navigation techniques used in anything from 12 Cars to Stage Rallies (see below)
There are also groups of people who run them as national competitions. Once registered you would receive a route card, you would have a set period of time to complete it before the next card is issued (these events are generally accepted as being more difficult than normal rally navigation, as you would normally have more time to plot the route, and can be done in the warm at home – not be trying to plot whilst sat in a car in the cold & dark, and in the middle of nowhere).
These are logically the next step up from 12 car rallies, generally for the more experienced, longer events, sometimes with more complex navigation & timing. These events normally are run overnight Saturday into Sunday, with a half way/petrol halt, finishes off in the morning, results are announced over breakfast.
Sprint, Hillclimb & Race
Sprints can be a cheap way to start off, racing generally costs more, you can use your own road car with a couple of safety modifications right up to a second hand F1 car (if you can afford it) Sprint’s & Hillclimb’s are short speed trials, usually upto about a mile maximum. The venues are anything from airfields & stately homes to a Sea Front Promenades to a Purpose built Circuit. There are various classes in each type of competition, to suit your choice of vehicle & the size of your wallet.