Alright, what am I doing this year?
When I sat down to figure this out I thought a lot about what I wanted to accomplish this season. A few themes stuck out to me as I scribbled down my thoughts:
- I want to drive as many of the UK circuits as I can, in one season: as I’ve learned from previous racing in the US both in cars and on motorbikes, knowing the tracks is well over half the battle and I could use this season as a test bed to cut my teeth with as many of them as I could squeeze into a year. There were about 9 in particular that I had my eyes set on – not impossible.
- I would like to maximize my total seat time over the season: this ties in to my first point – I’d be learning all these circuits from scratch, and there’s no substitute for seat time. Short, single or two-race weekends probably wouldn’t cut it.
- I have no real preference on what specifically I’m driving, but it’d be nice to get back into an MX5 to leverage what I was familiar with already
- I am set on doing the 24H of Silverstone round in the C1 Endurance series
So there it is – I had a few other thoughts but these were the big four, with the slightly conflicting bits of the second two, at least driving style wise.
Next, picking a club
Knowing this, I could now sort out which club to join under the MotorsportUK body. I’ve written about this a bit already in my post about circuit racing in the UK. At this point I had already narrowed it down to BRSCC, BARC or 750 Motor Club – and really, it came down to BRSCC shortly thereafter.
The BRSCC had everything I needed. There were multiple competitive MX-5 series, C1 Racing Club renewed their partnership for 2023 (and therefore the 24H round), there was endurance racing in multiple formats, and all of this neatly strung together in a calendar with no overlaps on any rounds. Bonus was all the circuits I wanted to visit were covered in as little as two series (nearly just one!).
When you start looking at costs specific to solely licensing fees, series registration fees, membership fees, etc. you quickly learn that competing in multiple clubs is cost prohibitive. Although I later found that some teams will compete across multiple clubs, or simply elect not to participate in specific ones, there are more than enough teams to pick from – take care of yourself first, and then take a lay of the land you chose.
So I locked this in – one racing membership to the BRSCC, plus tacking on the C1 membership, sorted.
On to picking the series, plural!
Going back to my objectives outlined earlier, my primary goal was to experience as many of the major circuits within the season as I could. This wasn’t about trying to win a race, much less actually winning races, or vying for championship points. This meant I could mix and match series and rounds, driving different cars on different tracks, unstressed.
BRSCC offers the ability to compete in individual rounds of a series as a Guest competitor, meaning no need to register for the full championship, you can enter individual rounds at a fraction of the cost in exchange for forgoing points – fair enough to me.
Accordingly, my intended plan pre-discussions with teams was as follows:
- C1 Endurance Series – full season commitment
- MK3 MX5 SuperCup – full season commitment
- CityCar Cup Championship – individual rounds
- SuperSport Endurance Cup – individual rounds
- ClubSport Trophy – individual rounds
I’d later find out a full season of MX5 SuperCup would not be possible as 3 of the rounds were already fully booked, but that still left it open for individual rounds. This had me visiting Sillverstone, Croft, Oulton Park, Cadwell Park, Donington, Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Anglesey, and Pembrey – at least in theory!
And finally, the fun bit, calling a team home… or, teams homes?
When it comes to finding race teams to partner up with, the variety in management style, organization, approach to pricing and packages, expectations, etc. is extremely wide. I found this was even more so the case in the UK versus US, and I figure Europe is even more so.
I think the best approach when looking for a team is to figure out what you want first, it makes it easier to narrow things down later, and not waste anyone’s time. I was looking for:
- Full-service arrive and drive program: I didn’t want to have to do or think about anything other than show up, drive the car, and go home. I especially didn’t want to have to own anything beyond my own gear. As I’m not local to the UK, I didn’t want any assets that could prove challenging to sell later on, or have to find a storage solution, logistics, etc. This is not to say that race car ownership paired with managed trackside and maintenance / set-up support isn’t a great route for some (I would likely consider this if I knew I was here longer term).
- Pro-level outfit and effort: Although there’s nothing wrong with any other level of commitment, I was looking for a team that shows up to win (my skills aside…): that means the race cars in top shape and maintained to high standards, with a crew of mechanics, a race engineer, recommendations and planning around strategy, and some hospitality and creature comforts
- “All-In” pricing: I’m a stickler for avoiding surprises, unknowns, leaving things open for debate and so on. I wanted to see an all-in number from the team owner or commercial manager. I pay that number for either the season, or per race round, and we never talk about money again. I find this works better overall – many teams have moved away from this, especially in club racing, in an attempt to show lower figures or generally reduce the shock factor of a single number that may look higher than others. The fact is, once you start tacking on additional bits and bops you’ll want, it all comes out to the same, it’s a wash.
- Clear damage and total loss policy: In the same vain as my previous point, I wanted this to be explicitly transparent and defined in advance. This sport is high-risk, and cars do get damaged, and occasionally, are a complete loss. I wanted to see driver agreements and policies in advance to read them cover to cover – and if they didn’t have one, well that answered that…
There you have it, all my thoughts on how I’m going about my 2023 season. While writing this post, I’m in the middle of several discussions with teams about 2023 opportunities with testing days planned later this month and early March. As I get pricing data, I’ll be plugging in what I get into my motorsport budget spreadsheet to finalize my full-year budget review. I’ll also be writing about my test day experiences with these teams, keep an eye out.