Race Car Training
Car racing is an exhilarating sport where driving ability is essential to safety and success. A number of schools offer training to aspiring racing drivers. The Association of Racing Drivers Schools (ARDS) represents authorised racing schools in the United Kingdom. The association is recognised by the Motor Sports Association (MSA), the governing body of motor sports in the UK. The MSA regulates member racing schools as well as licensing for instructors and car racing drivers.
Becoming a Racing Driver
Aspiring racing drivers must obtain a Race Licence from the MSA in order to participate in certain events sanctioned by the national governing body and the FIA. To become a licenced, a car racing driver must be at least 16 years old. Licences are issued by the MSA according to regulations established by the governing body and informed by international rules set by the FIA. In order to apply for a licence, most novice drivers must complete a training course at an ARDS member school.
It is possible for drivers who are 14 years of age to apply for a National B Licence for Junior-level races authorised by the MSA. Junior drivers aged between 14 and 16 years old must complete an extended ARDS test. Junior driving training is only offered at driving schools with instructors that have been approved to supervise testing and training for junior drivers.
The ARDS and affiliated schools provide training exclusively for car racing drivers. Additional associations are responsible for delivering training for drivers interested in other motor sport disciplines. The British Association of Rally Schools and its member schools are recognised by the MSA as providers of training programmes for rally drivers and co-drivers or navigators. Members of the Association of Racing Kart Schools provide training to karting drivers, while the Association of Hillclimb and Sprint Schools offer training courses for hillclimb and sprint drivers.
Novice Race Drivers Scheme
The Novice Race Drivers Scheme is a mandatory programme for most drivers who have never held a Race Licence. The scheme includes a half day's training at a recognised ARSD driving school. Prior to completing training, a competitor must apply for a licence and obtain a novice race driver 'Go Racing Driver Pack' from the MSA. Competitors who fail to retain their Race Licence will need to pass a course at an Association of Racing Drivers' School.
Once a driver has completed training they obtain a National B Race Licence. Most non-race drivers may only need a Clubman or Non-Race National B Licence. A Clubman Licence is generally sufficient for club-level events. Most race drivers interested in entering national events will require a full National B Licence. A National A Race Licence and International Race Licence is typically required for National 'A' and International car racing events sanctioned by the MSA.
Types of Training Courses
Driving schools deliver a range of courses for racing drivers, including ARDS driving courses used for obtaining competition licences. Other offerings include advanced and technical courses that help driver improve their skills.
ARDS courses are designed for drivers interested in entering the world of car racing. The goal of these courses is to provide drivers with a National B Licence, which is the basic requirement for competitive racing. Courses include academic and practical assessments to ensure drivers are suitable for racing. Courses are also designed to ensure drivers can maintain safety at circuits. ARDS courses generally cost £300 or more.
Driving schools may offer half-day and full-day ARDS courses. While a half-day course is sufficient for obtaining a National B Licence, full-day courses provide more comprehensive information and is catered by individual driving schools. Junior drivers courses are full-day programmes with classroom-based instruction on theory combined with practical driving. Schools may also offer advanced ARDS courses to assist competitors with obtaining a licence upgrade, for example the National A Licence.
ARDS courses teach drivers the essentials of car racing. They include practical instruction related to skid and control, including with auto-test and skid cars. Courses also provide instruction on racing and track techniques. At the end of the course, participants are required to write a test. Driving assessments are also completed at the conclusion of the courses. Courses are typically assessed as a pass or fail.
Tuition and Driving Experiences
Certain driving schools provide tuition for competitors and racing enthusiasts to learn new skills. Tutors are typical professional drivers with racing experience. Courses generally last for one day. Offerings range from one-to-one driver coaching to advanced car racing experiences, as well as specialised courses on skid control. Courses typically start from as little as £50 for offerings designed for novice or junior to over £100 for technical and advanced programmes.
Finding a Racing Drivers' School
Racing schools recognised by the ARDS operate in race tracks and other venues across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Venues in England include Croft and Oulton Park in the North, and Silverstone, Donington Park, Everyman Racing and Rockingham in the Midlands. In the South, schools operate at Brands Hatch, Cadwell Park, Castle Combe, Everyman Racing, Goodwood, Snetterton and Thruxton. Venues in Wales are found in Anglesey and Pembrey, while schools operate at Kockhill in Scotland and Kirkistown in Northern Ireland.
Qualified racing instructors must hold an ARDS Instructor Licence, which are issued by the MSA. A list of instructors is available from the ARDS. All instructors must complete training at an ARDS member school and pass an assessment at the end of the course. As of August 2014, there are ten approved ARDS schools in the UK, six of which are approved to provide the ARDS extended test for junior drivers.