Whether this will become a testament to my failed attempt at one of my greatest lifelong ambitions, or I'll be looking back at this article at where it all started a year from now with a smile. But you do have to start somewhere. One such start that has really inspired me is Charlie's blog on getting started in racing - I read through the articles like a brilliant novel, and commended the author who in several weeks I could well be meeting...
My aim is to take part in national motorsport track racing. A fair bit of research has led me to the series Toyo Tyres Racing Saloons and the sister series Production BMW Championship, which is at the budget end of racing. With a few hours spent on their forums, it became clear that they were a good bunch and very newcomer friendly. A fantastic amount of advice and help seemed always on offer, and I didn't see any point in looking anywhere else.
With a series identified, I'm planning to go to their first meet at Brands Hatch on the 28th March just to get a better feel for the environment. I was told through their forums I was welcome to come and find members for any advice, which seems fantastic.
So while I wait, I've started the process of obtaining an MSA (Motor Sports association) National B License, with some great guidance from their website. I need to book an ARDS test which is around £200, plus another £200 for some driving tuition in order to learn the course before the driving practical. I've taken my driving test twice and passed both times, I intend to make this 3 out of 3! The application pack came with a plethora of Motorsport 'porn' such as catalogues of equipment, clothing, performance parts etc. Also, the official 'blue book' for 2009 (I made the application last year) with lots of complicated regulations. Things started to seem excitingly more real.
Of course, a license and some contacts won't magic me a car and equipment overnight, in fact for the moment that's way out of my budget, (even though I accidentally on purpose bid £250 for a 1987 BMW on Ebay!), so my initial plan will be to rent a car. Competitors will come to circuits and track days with an extra car for a pre-arranged fee for someone like me to arrive and drive. I'm establishing some contacts through forums, when I go down to Brands I hope to nail down some dates and fees. It's not looking too bad really, it's not cheap, but certainly less expensive than getting a car. I figured on getting in some practice, maybe even a couple of races, before getting my own - which is a lot of work and expense!
I know I'm completely mad, as this is an insanely expensive hobby even at the budget end, and will consume a lot of time. But I like a challenge, and it's something I can really get stuck in to. It does help that this is probably the biggest thing I've wanted to do for years, and it's all possible - all it takes is effort and determination!
To be continued...