Introduction to Speed Competitions
Most TVRs offer such huge performance that you never get the chance to fully exploit the potential on the road. So where can you enjoy all your car has to offer? There are several alternatives open, the most popular ones being track days, speed competitions and of course racing.
Track days are increasingly popular, but don't offer the opportunity to drive your car competitively. You know you're improving but with no timing allowed, it's difficult to know how your skills compare with your fellow drivers. The next step is speed competitions.
What are Speed Competitions?
Speed competitions are a friendly and low-cost form of motorsport organised by and for motoring enthusiasts. Not to be confused with autotests (three-point turns against the clock), trials (getting stuck in a muddy field) or 12-car rallies (getting lost on public roads), Speed Competitions are high-speed events on well prepared circuits where the performance of your road-going car can be exploited to the full.
Competitors drive individually around a course of about a mile, against the clock. Courses vary from a lap of a racing circuit such as Goodwood, or a course laid out at a disused airfield, to the more specialised hillclimb venues which are more like your favorite twisty country lane, often complete with rather solid bits of scenery to catch the unwary. The hillclimb venues are generally seen as more challenging but can be more rewarding too.
There are classes for all sorts of cars, from your Mum's shopping car to V8 powered single seaters that look as if they may once have graced an F1 grid. In the TVR camp you regularly see a wide range of cars from Vixens through to Chimaeras, Cerberas and now the occasional Tuscan. Most TVRs compete in absolutely standard condition, with no special preparation required.
There are various prizes at each event, but the main reason to come along is that it gives you a chance to drive as fast as you dare without any worry about traffic jams, speed limits, flashing blue lights or some other idiot pushing you off the road. The number of TVRs competing has increased substantially in recent years and TVR is now one of the best represented marques.
It really is very easy to join in and new competitors are always welcome. For those who might want to join in the fun, here are answers to some common questions:
Is it dangerous?
Some events take place on race circuits, which are similar to the environment found at track days. These have some corners with nice big run-off areas where it is safe to be a complete hooligan, and some where a little more discretion is required. Other events take place on airfield circuits with huge run-off areas and nothing to hit other than the odd traffic cone - maximum hooligan mode is the norm here.
Whatever the type of course, you are alone on the track so there is no danger of colliding with another car. Rescue crews and paramedics are present at all events but have a very boring job, you simply don't see people getting hurt. Above all it is a low-cost, low-risk form of motorsport.
Having said that, any time you drive your car there is the possibility of damage. Your normal road insurance will not cover you during competitions, but you can arrange specialist competition insurance from around £40 per day. You may want to consider taking out this insurance if you're planning to compete in something expensive. Many airfield circuits are so safe you might feel you can reasonably go without, but that's a decision you have to make for yourself.
Will it hurt the car?
Speed competitions involve a busy day with several runs of the course, but each run lasts only a minute or so. In that time the tyres and brakes have barely got warm. The wear and tear is minimal and should be no problem for the average TVR, no special preparation is required.
Will I be fast enough to compete?
Most sprint competitors are new to motorsport. Don't expect to simply turn up and win your first event, but before long you'll find you're keeping up with others in your class and even beating them from time to time. The truth is TVR don't make slow cars, you can enter in virtually any TVR and be competitive. That isn't a reason to enter, though - the whole point is that you're there to have fun.
How much does it cost?
Protective gear for the driver will cost between about £150 and £300. Annual fees and subscriptions will cost about another £50. Finally, entry fees for each event vary between about £50 and £100.
Where are the competitions?
The largest groups of TVR competitors are in the Midlands and South of England, however there are growing numbers of TVRs competing in Northern England, Wales and Scotland. Wherever you are, there's a fair chance you'll find TVRs competing nearby.
The TVR Car Club Speed Championship
The TVR Car Club competition allows sprinters around the country to participate in regional competitions with results counting towards the TVRCC championship. If this has tickled your curiousity, drop Pete Humphries a line and he'll send you a comprehensive guide to entering the championship. Beware though, if you're just casually interested, Pete will have you convinced in no time!
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