How to become a racing driver in the elusive motorsport industry

As you sit on your sofa watching Lewis Hamilton race around a track at what seems like Mach 1, you wonder to yourself what it would be like if you were in the driver’s seat instead of him. Well, it doesn’t have to be just a dream, competing in motorsport is a perfectly achievable dream for anyone with a will strong enough and a wallet deep enough. Formula 1 may be a bit far-fetched, but there are plenty of other motorsports that are more accessible and feasible than you may think.

How cheap can motorsport be?

A great example of low-cost racing is Locost racing. This ridiculously cheap league of motor racing is all about small entry fees and cheap, yet fast, kit cars. Club membership is £25 per year, season registration is £130 and second-hand cars that were built for the races can be bought from £4,000. On top of these base fees, you’ll have to pay around £245-£345 for double-header weekend entry fees (qualifying and 2 x 15 minute races).

So you want to be a racing driver 1

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So all in all, these fees will cost you less than £5,000 according to the website, which means that the whole thing is probably cheaper than a single wing mirror for a Formula 1 car. In fact, with these figures, motorsport can cost less than golf in some cases! Locost racing is just one example of budget motor racing. But, if you’re open to the more unusual side of motorsport, you could race for even less! Examples such as lawnmower racing, banger racing, hatch racing and so on can also offer a similar experience and can cost even less!

Motor racing – the expensive races

If you’re looking for something to fulfil your Formula 1 cravings then there are a range of motorsports to choose from, however, be prepared to dig deep in your wallet. Firstly, if you want to get serious, like career-level serious, you’ll want to buy a course at a racing school and get a motor racing license. This will cost a few thousand pounds but will help put you ahead of the competition.

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As for actually competing, there are countless races that are just as fiercely competitive and skill-intensive as Formula 1, but as you would expect, they all cost a lot of money. Lewis Hamilton raced in Formula Renault and Formula 3, Jenson Button raced in Formula Ford and Formula 3, Peter Dumbreck also raced in Formula 3 and Formula Vauxhall. So if you’re looking for the F1 experience, these are the races to aim for which require a large amount of financial sacrifice.

For instance, Dumbreck spent £30,000 of his own inheritance money to race the British Formula Vauxhall Junior championship and got none of it back. It’s all about getting yourself noticed first.

Motor racing – the less expensive races

Apart from the already mentioned Locost, there are a few other well-known races that won’t amount to the sum of a mortgage. The 5 Club MX5 Cup has a season entry fee of around £2,750 and is great for MX-5 fans. There’s also the CSCC Tin Tops Series which involves hot hatches no bigger than 2.0-litre – costing around £3,500 for season entry.

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If you want to race a BMW on a budget, there’s the BMW Racedays Compact Cup which is all about racing the old and cheap-to-buy 3 series compact. But if you really want to feel like an F1 driver, there’s always the Ravenol Formula Vee Championship, where you’ll be in what looks like a baby F1 car! The cars may cost a bit more and not be the fastest, with around only 100bhp, but they sure do look the part.

Considered rally racing?

You’ve also got rally racing, known for spectacular scenes of dirt-covered cars skidding around corners at 70 miles per hour. Although WRC may be a long way away, all you need to get into rallying is a suitable car and the passion to drive.

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Autocross is known for its harsh terrain and tight corners, but don’t let that make you think it’s inaccessible to the weekend racer. Competing cars can vary from DIY car projects to professionally tuned and modified rally cars. Autocross isn’t quite the pure rally experience as it often takes place in an open field and the track is laid out with cones. If you find yourself with a car and some spare time, you can enter an individual rally race for a taste of how the WRC champs must feel.

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But it doesn’t end with car racing. For bike lovers, there are plenty of entry-level clubs and races, from BMX racing and motocross to sidecar racing and ice racing. There’s boat racing (drag and circuit), crazy offroad hill climb racing, snowmobile racing and the list goes on.

It always comes down to the money…

Even if fees are incredibly low, motorsport can still cost an arm and a leg. Tyres are a major cost for race cars, especially if you’re using slicks. The car itself is a large chunk of the cost and the parts and labour needed for maintenance is going to cost you as well. The list goes on with travelling to and from the tracks, buying a trailer for your race car, fuel costs, season entry fees and so on. If you want to do it as a career rather than a hobby, then you’ve got even more work cut out for you.

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But all in all, if you want to be a racing driver, there’s a motorsport for everyone and it doesn’t have to cost you as much as you think it does. If you want to just get a taste for it before you commit, you could even just pay £60 for a track experience day where you can have some fun in a Ferrari.

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