I'm frequently being asked for advice on how to get a race licence and start racing, so here is a comprehensive guide:

It's not necessary to have any prior track driving experience before applying for a race licence, you can simply take the following steps:

  1. Get your MSA Go Racing Starter Pack (ARDS) - Commonly referred to as the 'ARDS Pack' this is the first step to getting your MSA National B Race Licence. It includes the Novice application form which includes the cost of your first licence, MSA Pen, Specimen Licence and a DVD, which contains the MSA Yearbook and a video on Racing. It costs £99 including VAT (which as already stated, includes your first licence fee) and can be bought from the MSA website here: http://shop.msauk.org/product_details.asp?id=4023. When you receive your pack you'll need to do the following:
  2. Watch The DVD - Watch the Go Racing DVD supplied in the pack two or three times. I'll explain why later.
  3. Get Your Medical Done - Make an appointment with your GP for a medical examination (it's the same medical as for HGV and PSV vehicles). Fill in the application form and take it with you to your doctor who will need to fill out the medical section, stamp and sign it. Medical fees seem to vary but should be around £70. As an alternative to using your own GP there is a list of MSA registered doctors on the MSA site here: https://www.msauk.org/assets/listdoctors_1.pdf. I can also recommend two other doctors in South Manchester and North Yorkshire - contact me for details.
  4. Take your MSA Novice Driver Training Course (ARDS Test) - The NDTC (commonly known as the ARDS Test) is a half day course and assessment you need to complete to qualify for a race licence. The course is available at several ARDS member Racing Schools which I'll list below. The course costs around £300 (prices vary). The course consists of:
    1. A briefing and general discussion about track driving techniques by a senior Instructor.
    2. Watch the Go Racing DVD - this is the same DVD you will have watched already, but it's part of the course and serves to refresh your memory in preparation for the written test.
    3. A written test. All of the questions are answered in the DVD provided in the Go Racing Starter Pack, hence it is important to watch it several times before taking the course. There are four sections to the written test; section 1 covers flags and a single wrong answer means failure of the entire course, so it is important to know your flags; sections 2 and 3 cover safety and general race day procedures, the answes are multiple choice and often common sense will tell you the answer, but a single wrong answer in these two sections will also mean failure of the whole course; section 4 covers general questions - you're allowed 2 incorrect answers in section 4, but any more than 2 incorrect answers means failure of the entire course.
    4. Driving - Your instructor will drive for a number of laps to demonstrate lines, driving techniques and the pace he will ask you to drive at during your assessment. You will then drive under instruction for at least 40 minutes until your instructor is satisfied that you are ready to be assessed. At the end of the session your instructor will ask you do drive for 2 or 3 laps at a reasonable pace without instruction while he assesses you. You will be expected to demostrate that you understand and are able to drive on the racing line, smoothly and consistently and without incident. Spinning or otherwise leaving the track at any time during the driving part of the course results in a fail of the entire course.
    5. Debrief including what to expect on your first race day, and your opportunity to answer any questions.
  5. Send Your Application Form To The MSA - When you have successfully completed your Novice Driver Training Course your instructor will check that your form is filled in correctly (including a recent photograph), stamp it with the school stamp and sign it. You can then send your application in to the MSA Licensing Department and you should receive your licence within two weeks.

Start Racing...

Once you've got your National B Race Licence you can start racing. You'll have to decide what you want and can afford to race in. One way of starting is to hire a car. There are many series with hire cars available. Otherwise, if you have the resources (or know someone who can do it for you) you can run your car yourself.

You'll need to join an appropriate club such as the BRSCC or the BARC. They are the two most prominent clubs running race meetings but there are others such as the HSCC, CRSCC, 750 Motor Club and more. You'll really need to join the club that runs the races you're going to do.

When you have a car to race in and you've joined the appropriate club, you'll need to enter the races you want to do. This involves submitting an entry form (many are available to do online these days) and paying an entry fee. The fees depend on what races you intend to enter, but expect to pay between £250 and £400 for most club races.

Having entered a race you will receive final instructions and tickets in the post. The instructions will include the timetable for the race meeting which will tell you when you need to sign on, when you and your car need to attend scrutineering, and when your qualifying session and race(s) are.

At signing on you will need to produce your race licence. Don't forget it or you'll pay a fine (or not race).

At scrutineering MSA officials will check your car for trackworthyness, safety and that it complies with the regulations; they'll also check that your race suit, helmet, gloves and boots are in date.

When your qualifying or races are due to be run you'll (your race) be called to the assembly area about 30 minutes before. You'll need to be there with your car, in your race kit, ready to go on the circuit, and follow the instructions of the marshals.

Those are the basics. If you would like more information please get in touch.