Nowadays millions of people are ardent fans of the coverage of the Formula One Grand Prix on television. However many people do not realise that for a fairly modest outlay they too can take part in Circuit Motor Racing even if it would be at a slightly lower level! There is nothing quite like driving a purpose built Racing car as fast as you can alongside 20 others to get the adrenaline pumping through your veins! Racing is an exciting and vibrant sport that can be enjoyed by competitors, spectators and officials alike. However it is not all glamour, and getting started will require a little organisation on your part, and a certain amount of form filling. The long road to the winners podium has to start somewhere!
Click on the image above to see Car Racing in action
Irish Racing has more than one hundred years of history, the first important event being the Gordon Bennett Race held in 1903 on a road circuit near Athy, Co. Kildare. This was the first event in the world to be held on closed roads. From then on, the sport flourished and probably peaked with the State backed Irish Grand Prix held in the Phoenix Park in the years 1929 to 1931, with the winners list containing such famous names as Boris Ivanowski, Rudolf Caracciola and Sir Henry Birkin who would have been the Michael Schumachers of the time.
Over the years Motor Racing in has seen many changes with the town street circuits in Bray, Limerick and Ards being replaced by road circuits at the Curragh, Wicklow, Dunboyne and Dundrod, which in turn were rendered obsolete by changing times. Nowadays, apart from the famous Phoenix Park Races, events take place on circuits such as Mondello Park near Naas, Co. Kildare and Kirkistown on the Ards Peninsula in Co. Down.
Phoenix Park Motor Races Newsletter March 2010
Officials / Marshalling
One of the best ways to learn all about any branch of Motorsport is to get involved in the day-to-day organisation of events. So if you don't feel ready to compete, or you would simply like a sociable, friendly attachment to Racing, your invaluable help would be more than appreciated. Contact anyone involved in the organising Clubs or in the Mondello Track Team and get started. It could change your whole life and at the same time help others enjoy a great sport held in a responsible controlled environment.
However if you feel ready to take the plunge and go racing then read on for all the essential information you'll need to get yourself to the Starting Grid!
How to get Started
Licence and Age Requirements.
Applicants for a first time RACE category "National B" licence must first purchase an "Introduction to Motorsport
" Starter Pack at a cost of €10, which is available from the Motorsport Ireland Office on 01 6775628, and successfully complete a Motorsport Ireland "Introduction to Motorsport Course" (IMC) in Mondello Park. The pack contains the following:
· Licence application forms
· A video/DVD
· Motorsport Yearbook,DVD format
· Details about the course
· Some additional informational literature
· A course booking reference number
The cost of the IMC course is approximately the same as one race entry fee. Full details are available from the Motorsport Ireland Office and on this website. The "Yearbook" and a calendar of events are available electronically on this website. You can also download a Licence Application Form here.
The minimum age limit for Circuit Racing is 14 years. A medical certificate is required and this is part of the licence application form. It is not necessary for applicants to hold a Road Traffic Act licence. Competitors under 18 years of age require written permission from their parents or legal guardians. A first time licence costs as little as €40 if you are a member of one of our Affiliated Motor Clubs. The cost to non-members is €80. A first time Junior Race Licence is free of charge.
All beginner Race competitors are restricted to a maximum cubic capacity (c.c.). The “Junior” Race licence, for competitors from 14 – 16 years of age inclusive, entitles the holder to drive in the Junior Race Class, www.ginettajuniorireland.com
, which are 1400c.c. or the equivalent MSA series. The Race “National B” grade licence will entitle you to drive vehicles up to 2000c.c. When you gain some experience and obtain 5 event finish results you can upgrade your licence to a "National A", where there is no engine size limit. The "Introduction to Motorsport Course" will count as one upgrading signature. A further 5 event finishes will allow you to upgrade to "International C".
It is possible to get started on quite a reasonable budget, and the first year is obviously the worst as all the "capital" equipment - car, trailer, safety clothing etc will have to be bought. A car can cost anything from a couple of thousand euro and the sky is the limit! Aside from buying the car it will also be necessary to get a helmet and fireproof clothing including race overalls, boots, gloves, socks and balaclava. Other expenses include entry fees, trailer, licence, tyres and servicing. Threre are also running repairs from race to race. Obviously the more you can do yourself, or get done by friends the less it will cost you.
When and Where
There is presently only one permanent Motor Racing circuit in the Republic of Ireland at Mondello Park near Naas, Co. Kildare. Most of the classes also hold some championship rounds at Kirkistown Racing Circuit in Co. Down and occasionally at selected circuits in the . In addition to these circuits the Phoenix Park Motor Races are held annually, using a circuit comprising parts of the road network of the Phoenix Park in Dublin .
The Racing season in runs from the end of March through to the beginning of October with up to 20 events being held during this period. However every class would not be competing at every event.
Types of Cars
Currently, there is a wide choice of different Racing Championship Classes.
In the "Single Seater" category the classes are:
Formula Ford 1600 which as the name implies is powered by a Ford 1600cc engine.
Formula Vee is an air-cooled 1600cc Volkswagen engined car which offers entry into the world of racing at a very reasonable cost. It is the biggest class and offers very close and exciting racing.
Formula Sheane is a Rover 1800 engined car designed and built by David Sheane in Wicklow. Several of the leading drivers from the Formula Vee class have moved over to the more modern Sheane class recently making it highly entertaining and competitive.
In the "Saloon" category the classes currently are:
Supercars - a fast saloon style car powered by a purpose-built 2-litre engine. This class is extremely close, and offers thrilling racing with only millimetres between the cars.
Fiat Punto Abarth - The top-of-the-range Abarth is one of the hottest hatches available, and this racing version offers thrills and spills galore! No quarter is asked or given in this neck and neck class.
Fiat Punto and Fiat Uno run together as two classes in one. The Puntos are the Mark 1 1400cc version, and the Unos are 1300cc. Either of these cars again offer a reasonably priced entry into motor racing.
In the "Sportscars" category the options are:
Ginetta – Ginetta G20 Coupe Junior cars of 1400cc. This is the Junior Racing Class, new for 2010, for competitors from 14 – 17 years of age. www.ginettajuniorireland.com
Stryker - Ford Escort powered cars of 1800cc, looking similar to a Lotus 7 or Caterham.
Global Lights - these "mini-sportscars" have a 600 or 1000cc motorcycle engine with a sequential gearbox and are somewhere between a very fast kart and a full size racing car.
Historic Cars are one of the most entertaining classes racing currently. The cars are of all types, and are often handicapped at the start to ensure an exciting finish.
There are also Libre (Free) classes, which cater for a wide variety of racing cars, which meet the safety requirements, but do not fall into any of the above categories. They do not have Motorsport Ireland Championship status.
Finally there is a separate class for any factory manufactured Porsches.
Special Equipment Required
All vehicles must have safety rollover structures, safety harnesses, fire extinguishers, firewalls and electrical isolation switches. Details are shown in the "Yearbook".
Clothing / Equipment Suppliers
EARS Motorsport, Muddy Hill, Mallow, Co. Cork (022) 42050
Marks Models, Unit 7, Greenogue Business Park, Newcastle,
Co. Dublin (01) 4124829
Murray Motorsport, Unit 20, Beechlawn Ind. Complex, Walkinstown, Dublin 12. (01) 4500555
PR Reilly Ltd., 221 Howth Road, Killester, Dublin 5 (01) 8336924