AHASS is an organisation that has been formally recognised by the Governing Body of British Motorsport; the Motor Sports Association (MSA).
AHASS currently consists of the six member Schools detailed above, and the School at each venue is looked after by a Chief Instructor, together with several other Instructors, all of which are licensed annually by the MSA.
All of the member Schools have agreed to follow the AHASS syllabus, and this agreement, together with the annual licensing of the Instructors, is the mechanism that guarantees consistency across the various Schools.
In addition, AHASS has designed the format of an short but formal written examination that is available to pupils who wish to obtain an MSA Competition Licence Upgrade Signature, and this examination can be taken by pupils whilst attending any of the organised School days.
Pupils may attend as many Schools as they wish, but may only obtain one Licence Upgrade Signature by taking and passing the written examination. The typical charge for sitting the examination is £50.00
The relaxed environment and non-competitive nature of the Schools lead some pupils to attend on a regular basis!
Each School is administered locally by a School Secretary, who is usually a person who has extensive experience in the administration of the venue, and who can assist with the multitude of questions that are posed by AHASS pupils.
Once you have acquired your Competition Licence from the MSA, joined an appropriate Motor Club, and have subsequently applied to a Competition Secretary to enter a Hillclimb Meeting, you will receive your Final Instructions. These instructions will tell you the time you must sign-on, your competition number and what times practise runs are to commence. Adhesive competition numbers are not always available at the venue, so make sure you have the correct numbers ready to affix to your car as soon as you arrive. Remember, it is illegal to drive on public roads with competition numbers displayed, unless you are taking part in a Rally or Trial etc. which makes use of the public highway.
At many venues it is possible to arrive the previous evening and camp overnight. Occasionally this will incur a small fee (sometimes donated to the local villages). Overnight camping does save early morning starts and the ensuing panic.
Once at the venue, find your allotted space. At most venues, cars are allocated paddock spaces by class, i.e. the Saloon cars will be grouped together, the Sports cars will be near to each other, and Single Seaters will also have a designated area.
It is highly recommended that you walk the hill before driving it. The walk will give you a far better guide to the steepness, camber and severity of the various corners etc. Looking at a plan is helpful, but walking the hill will give you a far better understanding of how to plan your climb. This is another reason for arriving at the venue in good time, as the Clerk of the Course will be closing the hill approximately fifteen minutes prior to the commencement of practise.
You must now sign-on at the Signing-On office. Here, your competition licence will be examined, and your appropriate club membership verified. You will receive a programme, and a blank scrutineering ticket.
A Scrutineer will visit you in the paddock before your first practise. You must be present whilst your vehicle is checked, as your helmet and overalls will be examined as well. If everything is satisfactory, the Scrutineer will sign the scrutineering ticket, which you must then affix to your car where it can be clearly seen by the Clerk of the Course and the Paddock Marshals. You will only be allowed to practise or compete if this ticket is present.
You will be called up in numerical order for your first practise run. You will have a fairly good idea of when you are about to be called, as everyone is called in numerical order, and you will see your fellow competitors preparing. If you wait until you are called before putting on your helmet, strapping yourself in etc., you will waste time and delay the meeting. This will not endear you to either the Paddock Marshals or the Clerk of the Course, so be prepared!
Approach the start-line in accordance with the Marshals directions. Once in position, watch the red light. When it turns green, you may start in your own time. Unlike a race meeting, it is NOT necessary to start immediately the control light turns green. At hillclimbs, the green light merely indicates that the track is clear, and that the timekeepers and course controllers are ready for you to start. The timing computers will be activated once you start moving, and have broken the light beam that is positioned across the track just in front of your stationary car.
Now you are on your way! The only things to stop you completing your run, will be a marshal waving a red flag at you from one of the various marshals posts, or a breakdown etc. If you see a red flag being waved, you must cease competing, and immediately stop in a controlled way, and then obey the marshals instructions. You will be shown a red flag when a previous competitor has experienced difficulties on the hill, or the track needs dressing before competition can continue. If you are red-flagged, you will probably be offered a re-run.
After completing your run, you will be directed into the top holding paddock, where you should park in accordance with the Marshals instructions. You will generally have time to get out of your car and talk to fellow competitors. Don't forget to talk to the Marshals if they are not busy. Remember that they are all unpaid volunteers without whom you would not be able to enjoy yourself!
When the last car in your batch has left the startline, you will be instructed to return to your car. When the course is clear of ascending cars, you will return down the hill in convoy. You should wear your helmet during the return to the main paddock. It is embarrassing and unforgivable to go off on the return run, so drive carefully, and watch out for Marshals sweeping up dust or debris from the track.
Your time will be displayed on computer screens in the paddock. You will be able to compare your performance with your fellow competitors, and will soon be able to spot the good runs from the ordinary. Similarly, you will learn why your times are better or worse than before, being able to relate the changes to differences in cornering, braking or acceleration etc.
You will be called for a second practise run once all the competitors have completed their first runs. The procedures for the second practise run will be identical to those detailed above.
After a lunch break, the competition proper will commence. As before, you will be called by the paddock marshals in numeric order, and will proceed to the start-line. The starting procedures will be identical to those in practise, but this time your competition time is official, i.e. it counts towards the results of the days sport. This is where you need to know who you are up against!
Two competitive runs will be offered. As in practise, you will make them in programme order, and once you have taken both runs, the timekeepers or the results team will determine the best time achieved by each driver. These best times will be arranged in class order, and will form the results of the day.
It is worth pointing out that the practise runs in the morning are just that. They are intended to familiarise you with the hill, and for you to assess how the car is performing. The times achieved in practise do not form part of the official results.
When you have returned from the top paddock following your second competitive run, it is time to start collecting together your equipment etc., and load your car onto the trailer ready for departure. Remember that other drivers are still competing, so please do not hinder anybody who has still to run. Your paddock space should be left tidy, with all rubbish etc. placed in the bins provided.
The prize-giving will take place soon after the competition has finished. It is considered bad manners not to attend it, whether you have won anything or not.
The Chairman will expect the driver who achieves the fastest time of the day to say a few words after collecting his trophy, so if you are in this happy position, be prepared!
On leaving the venue, please drive carefully, bearing in mind that the local residents are not necessarily fans of motor sport, and your behaviour can seriously affect the running of future meetings.
Start-line procedures fall into three major areas :-
These notes detail the procedure of alignment and start, and describe how the start interfaces with the timing computers.
The method now being used at most Speed Venues in the U.K. is an electronic system of beams and indicator lights. A tripod, clearly visible to the marshals will display two coloured lights; usually one yellow and one white.
As the vehicle approaches the start line, the timing strut attached to the car will begin to occlude the first of two beams set across the track. The partial occlusion of this beam will cause the yellow light on the tripod to be lit.
If the car is positioned too far forward, the beam will be fully occluded, and the white light on the tripod will also be lit.
The start-line marshals will be monitoring these two lights carefully, and will ease your car forwards or backwards in order to secure just the illumination of the yellow light. This yellow light will be lit when the car is correctly positioned ten centimetres behind the start-line. Once the car is correctly aligned, the marshals will take steps to ensure that it does not move out of position.
Please be aware that the display of the yellow light on the tripod only indicates that you are correctly aligned. The yellow light IS NOT an instruction to start your climb.
Once you are correctly aligned, the start-line marshals will draw your attention to the other set of lights at the start line, i.e. the red and green traffic lights. Initially they will display a red light.
Once alignment is correct, three additional procedures have to take place :-
When all three of these tasks are complete (and they generally take about ten seconds), both the Course Controller and the Timekeeper will indicate readiness by depressing switches. These switches control the set of traffic lights which are clearly visible to you as you wait at the start-line. Only two aspects can be shown; a red and a green.
By default, these lights are set to red, indicating that you MUST NOT YET start your climb.
When both the Course Controller and Timekeeper are ready, the simultaneous depressing of their switches will change the lights to green. This green light is an indication to you that you may now start your run.
It is important to realise that the green light is only an indication of permission to start your climb. The timing computer will only be triggered by the strut attached to your car passing through the second of the beams referred to above, and consequently it is not necessary for you to start at the instant of receiving the green light. Once the green light is on, you may set yourself and the car up, and start as soon as you are ready. However, you should not allow your car to move forward whilst preparing to start. If you do, you risk breaking the second beam, and start the timing sequence even before you think you have started!
Once you start by breaking the second of the light beams, the timing computer will record the start time, and eventually your finish time. By calculation, it will determine your elapsed time, and offer both visual and printed confirmation of this to the timekeepers.
As you progress along the course, other light beams will be broken, and timings recorded and displayed. These measure the rate of acceleration away from the line, and intermediate timings and speeds at various points along the track.
As you reach the finish line, the final set of beams will be broken. The breaking of these two beams allow for a calculation of both finish time and finishing speed.
By the time you have reached the top paddock, the timing computers will have recorded all the data, and probably printed an elapsed time for you in the paddock hut.
The timings and speed data are recorded and printed by the timekeepers, and passed to the Results Team who work in the Administration Block in the main paddock. The results will be displayed as soon as possible, and once competition is complete, will be used for the final determination of the results.
It is a requirement of the MSA that a Clerk of the Course must be appointed for any motor sport event.
The Clerk of the Course has overall responsibility for the general conduct and control of an event, and must discharge that responsibility in accordance with the Regulations, the Programme and the Organising Permit as issued by the MSA.
It is necessary that all Clerks of Course at Speed events are licensed officials, and the MSA has introduced different grades of Clerks licence appropriate to an officials experience and abilities. Both Hillclimbs and Sprints are classified as Speed events, and most venues have at least three licensed Clerks, at least two of whom are graded as National Grade A Speed Event Clerks, and are therefore able to officiate at any UK hillclimb other than those held under an International permit.
As mentioned above, the Clerk is responsible for ensuring that all the relevant regulations are complied with. Effectively therefore, he or she is "The Boss" of the Meeting. As there are many different areas of control and responsibility at a Speed Event, it is necessary for other officials to be appointed in order to make the meeting run smoothly. These include a Secretary of the Meeting, Scrutineers, Course Controller, Timekeepers, Marshals, a Results team, Doctors, Rescue and Ambulance personnel, together with other staff whose responsibility is to make each event run as smoothly as possible. Even with all these people appointed to assist at an event, the Clerk is still ultimately responsible, although he or she may have limited technical knowledge of various areas.
A Clerk needs therefore to be both experienced and well grounded in all aspects of the regulations, most of which are detailed in the Blue Book issued annually by the MSA. The Clerk must be able to build a team from many highly knowledgeable people, and although accepting full responsibility for the proper conduct of the meeting, must allow the specialists to use their many skills properly.
The Clerk is also the official who will attempt to resolve any problems arising at a meeting. These will include interpretation of the rules and regulations, exercise of discipline over competitors, and adjudication between competitors where protests are lodged in accordance with the Judicial Code as issued by the MSA.
Details of the Clerk's powers and responsibilities are set out in section G.5 of the MSA's Blue book, and it is worth reading this section carefully, so as you understand the nature of a Clerks duty. Other sections of the Blue book are also essential reading, because if you fall foul of the many regulations, it is the Clerk who will be after you! As in many other areas of life, ignorance is no defence!
At every event, the MSA appoint a Steward. He is known as the "MSA Steward", and is charged with ensuring that every event is properly conducted. To assist him, organising clubs appoint two Club Stewards, usually from among their own club members, and these three stewards, acting together, will ensure that the meeting runs in accordance with the rules. Stewards do not form part of the organising team; they are there to provide an overall system of control. In the event that a competitor does not accept a Clerks ruling regarding a particular problem, the Stewards will convene a Stewards Enquiry, and issue a ruling which is binding, subject to the right of appeal to the MSA.
Stewards are appointed from those who have a great deal of experience in motor sport, and who have a good working knowledge of the rules, the Blue book, and the judicial procedures.
The requirements relating to Stewards are laid down in section G.2 of the MSA's Blue book.
At every competitive event, it is necessary to have present at least one Doctor (or suitably qualified Paramedic), and a licensed Rescue Vehicle, complete with a licensed Rescue crew.
Most events will have two doctors present, together with an MSA licensed Rescue vehicle which generally has a crew of three. It is quite usual to also have an Ambulance available, often provided by the St. John Ambulance Brigade or the British Red Cross.
The requirements relating to Emergency and Medical Services are laid down in section F of the MSA's Blue book.
Whenever an incident on the track requires the attendance of a Doctor or Rescue crew, the Observer nearest the incident will request the attendance of medical help by radio. The Course Controller will immediately stop the event, dispatch the medical team to the incident, and inform the Clerk of the Course, who will probably attend the scene in order to oversee the proceedings and co-ordinate the attendance of other specialists etc.
It will be obvious from the above, that there is no room in Motor Sport for those people who wish to be "Free Spirits". For any sport to function properly, it is necessary to have in place a system of command and control, and as Motor Sport is recognised as a potentially dangerous activity, the regulations are extensive.
However, the rules are there to protect YOU as much as possible.