To start a motor racing career, there are a number of different avenues that can be taken. While it is easier to begin at a young age, that is, as a child, it is still possible to forge a racing career until around the age of twenty-five. For those older than this, a professional career is unlikely, but there are still options to race and be involved in the sport.
A great way to start is by going go-karting and entering kart races. Karting teaches the basics of racing, ‘like understeering and oversteering and how to adapt the kart to the race track to make it fast’. It will also fuel competitiveness, which is a vital element of success.
Road and Racing Licences
Once drivers reach their teens, learning to drive is the first step to mastering car racing. Following this, short courses at a racing school will transfer the rudiments learnt from karting and road driving to the race track. The courses should impart valuable theory, techniques and feedback, and provides an exciting taster of a racing career. Drivers should then work towards their ARDS (Association of Racing Drivers Schools) National B Competition Licence. While tuition and a racing licence costs money, amounts are usually affordable, with a short course staring at around £300 and a licence costing approximately £100.
Funding will continue to be a major component of an early racing career. It is important to enter as many races as possible in order to build experience, improve technique and gain recognition. A junior championship enables drivers as young as fourteen to race, and such a competition will require £13,000 to £15,000 upfront to enter. In the UK, the Ginetta Junior Championship is one of the most prestigious races for fourteen to seventeen-year-olds.
Sponsorship is the best way to fund a racing career, but gaining support can be difficult, especially in the early stages. Initially, many drivers seek financial backing from their family and relatives’ firms until they progress to higher level championships. Once drivers reach the recognised feeder classes, they should contact local businesses to appeal for sponsorship, ensuring that they present their request as a solid business proposition.
Starting as an Adult
Aspiring racing drivers who begin in adulthood should take similar steps to those outlined above, but they may also want to join a sports car club or familiarise themselves with racing by becoming a track marshal. While it can be trickier to forge a racing career starting in adulthood, it is not impossible, particularly for those with natural talent and determination. Although referencing the US racing scene, older aspiring racing drivers should check out the post by MadCat360 on this forum thread about how to become a professional racing driver. In their words, ‘If you genuinely love to drive fast, and have a fundamental need to do so, you’ll probably find a way to make it work’.