How to take your first steps toward becoming a racing driver
Taking part in motor sports may seem less accessible than other pastimes but if you have the desire to line up on the starting grid and see if you got what it takes to take the checkered flag, then it's not as hard as you might think.
Today the XCAR team will be sitting their association of racing driver school or ARDS test, which, if they pass, will be all they need to start a career in racing.
Currently I'm in the pit lane of the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit.
I'm gonna do my national [INAUDIBLE], well hopefully get my national [INAUDIBLE] race license today [UNKNOWN].
And fulfill some boyhood dreams.
Well I guess we've done a lot of track stuff at XCAR, we've driven a lot of cool cars, but I mean if you wanna, if you wanna step up to the next level then this is where you've gotta go.
For me personally, it's about kind of improving myself, being a better driver, but having more fun and legitimately going quickly in circles.
Since doing stuff with XCAR.
It's gaining access to really fast cars.
All I wanna do is, drive faster and faster and faster.
So much you can do before the police flashing lightscope behind you.
So,racing licence used to be the best possible option.
It's an absolute boyhood dream.
I mean since I was seven, I was setting my alarm to three in morning to watch the Australian Grand Prix and.
So many Sunday roasts ruined with the family cuz I refused to kind of stay at dinner, cuz I wanted to watch the Grand Prix.
I, I don't think there's a little boy alive who hasn't really dreamed of being a race car driver at some point.
When I was a kid, like my favorite toys were all my cars.
My dad build me a little garage to keep them all in and I just built racing tracks around my bedroom floor.
I never thought, I'd ever get the opportunity to do it.
I never thought I'd be in a position where I could race.
Racing I've been obsessed with since I was a kid.
And always thought, if I was given a chance, I'd be able to do it really well.
Whether that's true or not, I don't know.
I always wanted to, but I never knew I was, I was going to be able to.
So I won't say it was a childhood dream because I never imagined I would be allowed to do it.
To succeed they will have to pass a theory test and take a practical exam.
The exams a team must pass are being overseen by MSV, who are a one-stop-shop if you want to get your racing license.
They provided the studying materials.
Booked the track time.
And probably most importantly provided the cars for the job.
The Brands Hatch Indy Circuit is one of many tracks across Britain where you can sit your odds test.
It does however throw up some unique challenges.
Professional racing driver Ally Web explains.
Brands Hatch was the last race I did in my 2010 former three career.
I won that race, it was a very dear track in my heart.
A very tough track to master so to do an ARDS course there on your first kind of race license [INAUDIBLE] track.
They start through what is a, effectively a curved strait that tends to be the favored line close to the pit wall, all the way down the strait using the downhill part of the track.
And then just as it raise, rises up before you go down Paddock Hill bend, it's a quick turn for the last, strain the steering, pace out the braking.
Depending on which car you're in.
If you've a good arrow car, then it's quite quick, if you're in a less arrow car then it's gonna be quite slidy, moving around a lot.
You lose all the weight when you go over that brow.
And then the car sliding all the way to the gravel so you're kind of hanging on to dear life there.
And then it's a steep uphill climb [INAUDIBLE].
So [INAUDIBLE], it's very tight, [INAUDIBLE] top hill and [UNKNOWN] on the way in and then downhill and makes the [UNKNOWN] on the way out, it makes it again very challenging.
Then you come down towards left [UNKNOWN] and its very quick corner again.
Bit of run off for a bit more room so you'd be touring [UNKNOWN] and it takes us through the [UNKNOWN] and the [UNKNOWN] is a quick sling shot corner.
Which takes us round, to the last corner and that last corner rarely is [INAUDIBLE] game, nearly all of the time.
There's so many different lines through there, there's no exit curve at all, it's just tarmacked stops and then you've got gravel.
So to get that exit corner right is one kilometer on the way in, [UNKNOWN] straight so it's a, it's a really important corner.
I've never actually raced the Brands Hatch before.
This is the first time I've been here.
The elevation is actually surprising.
It has almost everything you'd want.
It has adverse camber turns.
It has really, really steep straights.
It's, it's an exciting track.
You know it, it was my Dad.
He used to be a race marshal actually at Brands Hatch.
He was here, what, 30, 40 years ago, marshalling people, and then afterwards apparently they used to let him take as many around the track just [UNKNOWN], just have a bit of fun, which is awesome.
It's by no means gonna be a, a cakewalk.
Will it be [INAUDIBLE].
As part of the track briefing, Nick, Drew and Alex study the track layout, and plot their racing line, or at least what they think should be their racing line.
With that out of the away, it's time for the first of two practice sessions to see how well equipped the team are to sit their test.
The team have dug countless laps of the circuit on a PlayStation, but this is the first time they've actually driven the track.
Quickly they find that reality is a lot harder when you're in a real car, on a real track.
You brake to slow not to straight, go.
On the brakes, up to the yellow.
Now come across, summer ****, good old [UNKNOWN]
on the brakes.
Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, now move it, let it move, out, out, out, out, pound, pound, pound, good.
You're braking hard, too long.
You're braking too hard, too long.
But it's okay.
When you turn in, [INAUDIBLE] come on.
Change up, across.
Okay, that's better.
With the first practice session done, the team regrouped to reflect on how they did.
So how did yours go?
I'm deeply, deeply disappointed in myself.
Yeah started shaky, bit rubbish.
I don't know, I, I went in relatively confident.
Then became nervous, then became panicked, and then just let it all get to me.
And I drove terribly.
I wasn't getting far enough, [INAUDIBLE] I wasn't using the track enough, my braking was too hard, my gear change [INAUDIBLE].
Basically my driving was rubbish.
Now if I drive like that in my test I'll fail.
But after a few laps.
All those problems are slowly beginning to overweigh.
So, I think I could turn in a little earlier, but I was still learning the track.
I don't, I don't know about you.
I had a few hairy moments with some understeer.
Adding too much power, and kind of.
A bit squirrely.
[INAUDIBLE], have a little bit of the car going through, but managed to fix it.
No spins, no disasters.
So, I'm happy
Gearshifts were poor.
Picking a braking point was either too early or too late.
I don't think I'm winding the steering properly.
Coming out of the bend.
I'm not putting power down properly coming out of the bend causing understeer.
Now, you know, I know where the brake points are.
I know where to go like the, the best line at least in the way, cuz the track is greasy and mangy and nasty.
And when this gets just a little wet, it can get absolutely icy.
We've seen, I mean I saw a [INAUDIBLE] spin around in front of me on my round.
I think three cars span on yours?
[INAUDIBLE] just came off.
Yeah, yeah exactly.
It's just been red flagged.
So, it's, it's, it's pretty hairy out there.
I'm happier out there, than I was.
I think it's safe to say.
I'm happier, I'm more comfortable, I'm more confident.
Whether I pass the driving bit or not.
The practical test is only one half of the challenge though.
First, the team need to pass their theory exam.
MSV have provided the materials needed to study and prepare for the test and Alex, Nick and Drew are about to find out if they've done their homework well enough.
I mean, I don't think, speaking of people, I don't think it's one of the most difficult things to pass.
But it's always being tested in life, it's always, it's always nerve wrecking.
I've also been told you know, and it's a lot of common sense, so basically, not thinking like a [UNKNOWN].
Trying to learn what, what goes on in these things, proper race car driving, reading up a lot.
You're giving second chances and there's no margin forever.
Okay chaps, we've done the written bit, I'm just running through the pages for you, mark those.
As we stand at the moment, I'm pleased to say that all the three of you passed.
Well done, congratulations.
Don't wait up.
The best news is all three of you got.
Very well done.
Thank you [INAUDIBLE].
We're able to now do the driving section.
So, the team has proven they know the rules, but now they need to prove that they can put them into practice.
After a quick warm up, there will be three laps over which they will be assessed.
Any mistakes at all, could result in a fail, so concentration is key.
With the appropriate attire donned, it's time to prove they have what it takes to race.
You think you're a good driver on the road, but then you hit the track and it's a totally different thing.
And you have to start at the bottom again and really, I'm a very inexperienced racing driver.
At, at the end of it I just, I wanna become the best driver I can and you can't do that on topic race anymore.
You just can't.
If there comes a point where you can't really tell the difference between nerves and excitement.
So it's excitement, anticipation, nerves.
I don't wanna fail.
I absolutely do not wanna fail.
I will try.
Okay, start signalling, I'm gonna overtake.
True I think Nick.
You are turning too early.
and off we go.
Or to the power or to the noise, up to fourth.
Okay, and then we are going fifth, on your right, control.
Drew, Alex and Nick have done all they can now, all that is left is to hear the verdict from their examiners
So, how was that?
It was good, actually, yeah, yeah.
You've got a good pace.
Yeah it was, it was a bit around 50.
Yeah, I got it.
I'm not sure he'll need it.
I could be a racing driver one day.
So can we now say officially that I've passed yeah.
And, and I've passed the theory already yeah.
Wow that was all time.
Hennick did excellent considering how he started like what [INAUDIBLE] and he did [LAUGH].
Thanks for that.
He ended up fantastic.
[INAUDIBLE] He can race still.
I'm, I'm a very happy champion right now.
[UNKNOWN] you know, is race more and be better.
I realized I was pushing harder and harder lap for lap.
Which you know you don't need to do and I was like ran a white a couple of areas and I'll break myself but now I was like, what are you doing you're an idiot [INAUDIBLE] .It's so addictive.
What it is, is you need to get back out and.
Start getting more track days, start doing competitions [INAUDIBLE].
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