SAM’S SLOT: Amateur Racing for All!
At a very young age I became incredibly interested in cars and the motoring world. Alongside other interests it has always been the stand out thing that I love to talk and read about so at the age of twelve, rather than talking about cars I wanted to drive one. The pain of having to wait five years for a driving licence was terrible, but luckily there was a second option.
In the past my Dad had taken part in road rallies and many other car orientated events and when I reached an appropriate age he decided to join a motor club and used me as a co-driver. The first event we took part in was an Autosolo at Donnington Park in our Peugeot 205 GTI. The organisers laid out a course with cones and the objective was to complete a specific course in the shortest time possible and if you hit a cone you were given a time penalty. We were given a map to memorise the course then we completed our three runs and for our first go we didn’t do too badly.
Not long after competing in the Autosolo we took part in an Autotest. The difference between the two is that the latter is on grass so it is more challenging to set a quick time. Once again we used the mighty 205 GTI and were pleased with our final result. In May 2013 the motor club decided to run a Production Car Trial which is slightly different to your usual motorsport event. There are separate courses laid out in a steep field and the driver has to try and clear all of the courses to be able to win. If you stop while completing a course you are given a specific score, however, in this event the lower the score the higher your overall position. If you only get a short distance up a hill then you might score eight points, whereas if you nearly complete the course you get one point. Whoever has the lowest score after completing all the courses wins. This time we decided to use a Renault Clio and unbelievably we won with a score of zero. The Renault performed magnificently although I think my Dad’s expert driving was the main reason for our success.
After a couple of years as a co-driver for my Dad it was my turn to take the wheel when I turned fourteen. In summer 2013 I took part in an Autotest using the already successful Renault Clio and rather surprisingly I didn’t come last. I came second to last, but I was very happy with my first attempt as I was the only teenager competing against adults.
In 2014 me and my Dad took part in the annual grass Autotest in a Ford KA which was very good on grass much to our surprise. Once again I came second to last, however, it is always an incredibly enjoyable event and no matter where you come you never feel disappointed. There are always a good number of people who compete and it’s a very light-hearted and satisfying event. At the motor club awards ceremony I was very pleased when I was crowned Under 25’s Champion.
In 2015 my Dad used my car, the Mini Cooper RSP for the production car trail and retained his title by scoring a perfect zero. In summer we used the Mini for the annual Autotest and thankfully I improved, coming third to last, Red Bull F1 sign me up. Sadly this year none of the scheduled events took place due to bad weather.
Amateur motor sport is truly a fantastic thing to get involved in. If you’re interested in doing something like this do some research into motorsport events that take place near you and get involved. In my opinion, Autotests are incredibly fun no matter where you come. You also get to meet people who might share a similar interest in cars to you and it doesn’t matter if you take your company car or a treasured old hatchback. I also think that if you take part in Autotests at a young age it will benefit you when you learn to drive when you are seventeen, as you learn important skill such as clutch control. Get out there and have fun!