Notes for Novice Drivers

Entry Procedures

Before seeking an entry in a Speed Hillclimb or Sprint event, it is necessary for the Driver to be a member of an MSA recognised Motor Club. If not already a member of such a club, it is helpful to select one that promotes its own Hillclimb or Sprint events as not all of the smaller clubs receive invitations to these events.

An MSA Competition Licence is necessary. You should apply to the MSA for a Non-Race National Grade ‘B’ licence which entitles you to enter any road licensed vehicle, and most of the vehicles eligible for the published Hillclimb and Sprint Classes, in Clubmans or National ‘B’ events. With your licence you will receive a copy of the annually published MSA Competitors Year Book (the ‘Blue’ Book) that gives full details of all Regulations.

Entry forms and Supplementary Regulations relating to particular events are obtained by applying to the promoting Club.

If your entry is accepted you will receive an acknowledgement from the Club together with Final Instructions, entrance tickets and any other relevant paperwork.

Grading of Licences

A Non-Race National ‘B’ licence can be upgraded to Speed National ‘A’ after the licensee has obtained the signature of the Clerk of the Course at four Clubmans or National ‘B’ events. These signatures acknowledge that a level of ability, satisfactory for experienced drivers, has been shown. One attendance at a School approved by AHASS will count as one of such signatures subject to the applicant passing a brief examination and being satisfactorily assessed by a Registered Instructor at the School.

Preparation of the Car

It is your responsibility to ensure that your vehicle is in fully serviceable condition. It is equally your responsibility to ensure that it complies in every respect with the MSA Regulations applicable to the Class that you intend to enter. Your car will be inspected by an MSA Scrutineer on the day of practice before the event and will only be allowed to run if it complies with the Regulations. There may also be a separate test for noise. Road cars with normal exhaust systems are unlikely to fail this test but if your car is fitted with a non-standard system this should be checked. The onus is upon you to comply with the noise regulations.

As a general guide the maximum permitted noise levels at Hillclimb and Sprint venues, measured at 0.5 metres and at 45 degrees from the exhaust outlet, at an engine speed of 2/3rds of maximum revs, is 110 dB(A) for racing and sports libre cars and 108dB(A) for all other categories.

Make sure that the car is clean, that tyres are in satisfactory condition; only those tyres included in List 1A of MSA GR R 3.1.1 are permitted in the roadgoing classes. Racing tyres must be in a condition considered safe by the Scrutineer.

You will need a timing strut fitted to the front of the car. This must be of solid material, matt black finish, measure 254mm high by 51mm wide, be mounted clear of any sideways obstruction, and be positioned so that the bottom is not more that 200mm from the ground, and the top not less than 454mm from the ground. You are advised to obtain suitable competition numbers before the event, as these are not always available on the day. Advertising is permitted on the car provided that it does not interfere with the identification of the competition number, is not offensive and if it is on transparent material the depth of the display must not be more than 500mm. There are various aspects of Regulations applicable to different Classes, too numerous to mention here, so reference to the ‘Blue’ Book is advised. Fellow competitors are usually willing to help with advice.

Log Books

An MSA Log Book is required if you are competing in a car other than one registered for the road and competing in the event in road legal condition. A logbook will be needed if the car has an engine of greater capacity than that with which it was originally constructed or if the engine has since been equipped with forced induction.

Arrival at the Event

Try to arrive early enough to enable you to have adequate time to walk the Course.

First, locate the space in the Paddock that has been allocated to your number. Park your car there, and before unloading, report to the Paddock Office, taking with you your Competition Licence and Club Membership Card. You will be asked to ‘sign-on’ and you will be given a programme and a card for initialling by the Scrutineer after he has inspected your car.

Find out if there is sufficient time to walk the Course, and if so, do so at once. The alternative is to arrive well before the Paddock Office opens, thus gaining sufficient time to walk the Course at leisure.

Return to your car, and remove everything that is not required while competing. Make sure there are no loose items in the cabin/cockpit area, and that the timing strut is correctly fitted, check the tyre pressures, fuel, oil and water levels, remove the spare wheel, and attach competition numbers appropriately. Please be aware that at some events, extra numbers on the front of the car may be needed.

Depending on the venue, you may find that the Scrutineer comes to you, or it may be necessary to locate a member of his team. In any case, your neighbouring competitors can tell you what the situation is.

When the Scrutineer comes to your car, open any covers to the engine and other compartments, and be helpful with any information you may be asked to give.

It is not necessary to have the car raised on jacks unless specifically requested by the Scrutineer. As well as the car and its equipment, he will inspect your overalls, helmet and seat belts, all of which must comply with current MSA Regulations. With everything passed, he will initial the card that you were given when ‘signing-on’ and give you an official sticker for you to place in a visible position on the car.

You should then return to the Paddock Office, show the initialled Scrutineer Card, and ask for an allocation of Practice times. This may be done verbally, or by means of a ticket. (This is the usual procedure, but at some venues there may be some alteration, so ask when you sign-on.)

Return to your car and make a further check that all is ready to go. Stay with, or near your car, and await instructions that will be given either over the public address system or by a paddock marshal indicating that you should be ready to be called forward to the start.

Practice Run

When you are in the queue waiting to move up to the start line, put on your helmet and fasten your seat belt. If you are in a closed car, close the windows but do not lock the doors. Do not attempt to warm up the tyres by spinning the wheels anywhere except in the designated area immediately before the start line, usually immediately after a yellow line across the track. When you arrive at the line, position the car as instructed by the Start line Marshals, check that you are in the correct gear and wait for the green light to show.

You do not have to start immediately the light shows, so pause while you get the engine speed correct. Then start. Use your first run to assess approach speeds, gear change points, braking points and cornering speeds, and as soon as you are back in the Paddock, sit in the car with a plan of the Course in front of you and, while the memory of your first run is fresh in your mind, analyse your performance. Mark the plan where you consider you went wrong.

Times will be shown on a time card, which is normally located in the Paddock.

You will have at least one more practice run, and then two competitive runs in the Event, so continue to analyse all these carefully and aim to achieve a progressive improvement.

False Starts

If you make a false start, provided that the centre-line of the rear wheels has not crossed the start line, a re-start is permitted.

Subsequent Runs

For your second practice run and the runs in the Event, the procedure is just the same as before, except that for practice you may have been called forward in practice time order, whereas for the competitive runs this will be strictly in programme order. You will be expected to be ready just as soon as you are called; if not you could have to forego your run.

Results

Most Clubs will have printed results ready very soon after the end of the meeting. If you have the time, it is helpful to wait for these, as they will give you the chance to compare your performance with the rest of the class. At some venues there is a Prize Giving Ceremony at the end of the day and drivers always appreciate a good attendance by their fellow competitors on these occasions.

N.B. Remember that if you are driving home in the car in which you competed, it is most necessary to remove competition numbers before leaving the venue.

Insurance

Your entry fee provides you with cover against third party liability while competing, and limited personal accident insurance, all as detailed in Part 3 of Appendix 2 of the MSA ‘Blue’ Book.

Safety Precautions

Throughout an Event or an attendance at a School you will be expected to take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of yourself and all others concerned.

Re-fuelling should be done with care. If a fuel leak should become apparent this must be attended to effectively before running your engine. Smoking in the Paddock can be a danger to all. Do not attempt to work under your car without proper support for the car, for the ground can sometimes be soft and uneven.

Paddocks are often congested places and the manoeuvring of cars can be difficult.

In the unlikely event of your car catching fire while on the track, stop as soon as possible, and get out immediately. Help will be forthcoming from Marshals very quickly.

In Conclusion

Let us hope that by this time, you are a committed hillclimber or sprinter and are keen to do more. Differently from Circuit Racing, the time you are on the track is necessarily much less, but the importance of getting everything as nearly right as possible on every part of the Course soon becomes an attraction in itself. This gives you the chance to adopt a learning pattern of a totally different kind. “AHASS” has been established to promote the activities of schools designed especially for teaching hillclimbing and sprinting techniques and this means there will be more opportunities for newcomers to the sport to take the learning process a lot further and to develop their expertise more quickly.

AHASS member schools are committed to promote both efficiency and safety in hillclimbing. When you attend a school, the accent will be on technique, NOT speed.

It is for you to decide the speed at which you, yourself, feel safe, and you will not be put under any pressure to do otherwise. At a School, you will not be timed; that is left to when you take part in competitive events.

AHASS wishes you well for more enjoyable hillclimbing and sprinting, with a continuing and successful development of your skills.