Chris Bramall – former speed championship co-ordinator Lotus 7 Club UK
Have you ever stood on the side of a circuit as a spectator and thought – I could do better, go faster than him/her – well here is the chance to prove (or disprove) it. Have you ever thought there is an inner ‘race driver ‘in you – this is your chance to try. Your seven was designed to drive to a race circuit in the morning have a day on the track and drive home in the evening, and many still do, although more often these days trailers are used.
Sprinting and Hill climbing are some of the oldest forms of motor sport and probably the most accessible to the average person. It has a simple premise: drive from A to B in the fastest time you can. Cars are set off at intervals, so you are entirely on your own and its entirely up to you how fast you want to drive. You are timed from a standing start to flying finish. You can compete against yourself trying to beat your own time or look to get the best time amongst those with similar cars.
As events are classed as motorsport each country will have a governing body with rules and regulations designed to make this one of the safest motor sport activities around. They will ensure the organisers, timekeepers and safety personnel are all in place and properly equipped to conduct the meeting. So, what’s the difference between the Hill climbs and sprints.
Hillclimbing doesn’t involve hiking boots, and anoraks or indeed two people bouncing a machine as far as possible up a rugged mountain – that’s Sports trials and a different type of event altogether. Hill climbing is driving along a well-surfaced country lane from A to B as fast as possible, from a standing-start, against the clock. Usually this takes place on private land which is used regularly for this purpose. Competitors start at the bottom of the ‘hill’ where the paddock is normally found and drive to the top. Cars are released one at a time up the hill by Marshals with a suitable gap in between them to allow plenty of time for a car to be stopped by the if the one in front has a problem.
Sprinting is a similar discipline with the notable differences being that the course is a usually a purpose-built race circuit, more or less flat and may consist of more than one lap.
Sounds a bit daunting?
You may think that your seven just isn’t up to it. A seven is built for this type of event and a full season of sprinting in terms of wear and tear is probably no more than 3 track days.
Yes, there are some adjustments you may need to make to the car, you will need to check this with your governing body as this varies between countries. Maybe you think you are not up to it.If you can drive a seven, you can sprint – the sport is about your development as a driver and really getting to know your car.Not only do you compete against the clock and against others but also against yourself so the sense of achievement when you cross the finish line and see a better time displayed is rewarding and will keep you coming back for more!.
How do I find a sprint or hill climb to take part in?
Trackday providers: Its worth checking some track day providers who will also run a sprint series eg. – Javelin
Club events: Some clubs have an entire series and some an ‘introduction to sprinting’ event. So look at your own Club or other motorsport clubs - your motor sport governing body (see below) will be able to help you find the nearest and most suitable for you.
What do I need to get started?
You will need to check the regulations that apply in your country in terms of what adaptions you need for your car and the personal safety equipment however whatever country you compete in a sense of humour and adventure helps!
You will need to obtain a competition issued by the ASN ( the national sporting authorities of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) for your country of residence, and if looking to compete in another country you will need to have achieved a licence grade which permits international competition.You can find details of the governing body for your country at FIA by selecting the country and sport.
Now go and have fun!
Hillclimbing and Sprinting – Phil Short and Steve Wilkinson Veloce Publishing