Last week we covered how to go about getting your CAMS licence - and the different types that are available. So, once you've got one, what do you do with it?
Many people will have had their first motor sport experience in an event such as a hillclimb or a super sprint. Most likely an event like this was run in their day-to-day transport, just like my first time. These types of events offer the opportunity for enthusiasts to get the feel for racing, without incurring the expense.
The title of 'speed events' covers several different motor sport activities. Hillclimbs, circuit sprints, autocross and quarter mile sprints fall under this category and are technically defined by CAMS as 'any event which is more than 200 metres in a forward direction from a standing start, along a track or course clearly marked'.
Hillclimbs are usually held on public roads, which have been closed for the event's duration. They are an event which pits you and your car against a challenging uphill course - literally a hill climb.
Unlike a hillclimb, circuit sprints are held on sealed racing circuits - such as Calder Raceway for example - and involve several cars being on the track at any one time. This is arguably the most popular form of club competition, particularly for beginners or those on a budget and is considered by many to be the next best thing to actually racing.
Autocross is a single car speed event of less than 2km that usually takes place on a grass or unsealed surface. This event will require a little spit and polish afterwards, as your car will get dirty.
The quarter mile sprint, as you can imagine, is similar to a drag race - great for settling the age-old arguments as to how fast your car is down the quarter mile. These types of events are not necessarily held at a drag racing track; rather they can sometimes take place on a closed section of public road. A CAMS-sanctioned quarter-mile event will purely be determined by the elapsed time and has no provision for dial-in times.
A Level 2 licence is usually the minimum licence level for speed events, although the Level 1 single event licence is often enough on some club days.
Motorkhana and Khanacross
Motorkhana is a motor sport event that is designed to thoroughly test not only the driver's skill but also the acceleration, braking and manoeuvrability of their vehicle. The aim is to provide a low cost and low risk event that can be enjoyed by everyone.
A motorkhana course is set out by placing flags on a grass, dirt, concrete or bitumen surface and the cars are required to follow the set course around the flags. Often the carpark of a large shopping centre is used on a Sunday. During any one test, the total distance that a car travels will not exceed 200 metres, and will be mostly completed in first and sometimes second gear. Cars start individually and are timed from start to finish.
Khanacross can best be described as a larger and faster motorkhana. Unlike motorkhanas, khanacross courses can be up to 1.5km long, but must be held on an unsealed surface.
The minimum licence requirement for all motorkhanas is a CAMS Level 2 licence. Keeping in mind that the first requirement is that you are a member of a CAMS-affiliated car club and to participate in club or multi-club events, you must be a member of the organising club or one of the invited clubs.
My favourite form of motor sport for the 'average enthusiast' is the tarmac rally. This allows you to enjoy the social aspects of the motor sport, improve your driving confidence and skills and most importantly, drive pedal to the metal through some of the best public roads around - all legally!
Rallies require a two-person team, ie driver and co-driver or navigator. The total competition will usually cover almost all of the aforementioned forms of motor sport such as hillclimbs, motorkhanas and quarter mile sprints. It will also require driving from one event to the other via public roads, at the posted speed limit, on what are known as the transport/navigation stages.
The novice driver should make their start in small club events, which facilitate the use of the family car with a few additional safety items - although it is a good idea to find out from the organiser whether your car is suitable for the type of event you are entering...
The licensing requirement to enter a club or multi-club event - and even one state level event per year - is a Level 2 licence, after that, the more serious competitor will require an R3 rally licence.
Speed events allow anything to be used from an everyday road car through to a purpose-built open-wheeler special. But don't worry, different car classes ensure that your Mini won't have to compete directly against a Ferrari F40! The same goes for motorkhanas, but they are more famous for being a true "run what you brung" motor sport. Although, it is recommended that you have a fully functioning handbrake (you will need to use it to get around corners!).
For the most part, a safe and roadworthy car will be the minimum requirement for any of the above events. In addition, you'll need these bits and pieces:
- Secondary bonnet restraining device (many people use a leather strap which is later easily removed)
- Fire extinguisher
- Fitment of a blue stick-on triangle indicating the position of the battery
- All headlights covered with a transparent adhesive film (ie "Contact")
On top of all this, scrutineers will be checking that the tyres and brakes are functioning properly, there is no loose trim or seats, that the seat belts' condition is fine, and that there aren't any engine leaks.
At speed events and motorkhanas alike, competitors are required to be completely attired in non-flammable clothing. Synthetic materials are not acceptable. Specially designed flameproof racing overalls are recommended, but not compulsory. Again, recommended but not compulsory, are motor sport specific gloves and shoes.
A helmet must be worn by all competitors, and the most common helmet at this level is one complying with AS1698. These are commonly available, as they are acceptable for motorcycling use and are quite reasonable in price.
What do these events cost?
You'll be surprised to find out that the entry fee for most speed events is likely to be less than $100. Obviously you also have to factor-in the preparation costs, apparel and so on. For example, at a recent circuit sprint I met two people with the same idea but a different way of going about it. One of them was happy racing his stock standard Mitsubishi Starion, spending a minimum on one set of tyres and brake pads per year. The other had a race-prepared Ford Escort, with car trailer and an estimated $10,000 annual maintenance bill. It's really up to you.
Your first stop on the way to taking up recreational motor sport should be your local CAMS-affiliated car club. There you'll find support, information, access and help!
Going Motorsporting - Part 2: Events for the beginner competitor
AutoSpeed has covered lots of beginner motorsport - see also:
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