Becoming part of a club racing series is an experience like no other. Accompanying the addictive adrenaline rush is an extensive community of supportive and experienced enthusiasts that create a truly welcoming and relaxed introduction for those entering the world of Motorsport.
Racing has a unique attribute in that fans are not limited to simply watching from the stands. Club series, track days and driving experiences make it possible for petrol heads to turn off the simulators and appreciate the UK’s most historic circuits for themselves.
So what’s the catch?
In short – the price tag. Unsuspecting novices can quickly be caught out by unforeseen costs and, once you start investing, it can be difficult to judge where to draw the line. Not all ‘budget’ series are made equal and with so many to pick from, it can be hard to accurately evaluate what route will best cater to your requirements.
There are a number of things to consider when entering a racing series, this is how the 116 Trophy is keeping it affordable.
One make vs mixed grid
Mixed grid racing is both exciting to watch and to compete in, being part of a race line up that features everything, from 318’s to M3’s, can be exhilarating and the different classes offer an entry point for a wide range of budgets. The downside to some of these formulas is that, for a novice, the reality of competing simultaneously with cars that have significantly more power can be daunting, especially if you are being passed at extreme speeds, around paddock hill bend, in the wet. This adds an element of danger for the inexperienced that may be off-putting.
In addition, the entrance numbers in the low-cost classes can be unreliable. Some drivers carry out modifications to move up into faster groups, others are disenchanted by the realisation that they won’t be the overall champion but, mostly, these series are more difficult to participate in, on a budget, due to having fewer controls on modifications. In some circumstances it can become a situation where the driver with the biggest cheque book has the advantage, taking the competition and, ultimately, the fun out of the experience.
The 116 Trophy is an example of a one-make series, in which all the cars are evenly matched in performance. This results in an ideal training grounds for learners and an even playing field for competitors.
Endurance racing is a great way to share the costs. Our standard races can be shared by up to three drivers. This means that entry, consumables and fuel prices can be split between the team. On top of this, sharing a drive means sharing knowledge.
The car and the modifications
Our weapon of choice is the MK1 E87 BMW 1 Series, a great road car, an even better race car. Among the many factors considered when the vehicle was selected was the affordability element for those that want to build their own. There is an expansive second hand market, meaning that good donor cars can be collected for between £700 and £2000. In order to produce wallet friendly performance, the mandatory modifications have been kept to a minimum. A roll cage, race exhaust, suspension change, ECU and set of Nankangs is all you need to get you on the grid. We have a list of authorised vendors, offering consistent quality and pricing. Take a look at our buyer’s guide for more detail.
Unexpected changes to these rules can cause a requirement for further investment, in order to remain competitive. At 116 Trophy we believe a key to affordable racing is consistent and controlled regulation, driven by feedback from our community. Our full regulations can be found here.
Consumables and spare parts
This is an aspect to look at in detail before you sign up for a season. What tyres do you have to run? Will you need both wet and dry? How much will it be to replace your brake pads? Will you be out bid on Ebay for a replacement bumper?
In keeping with the series, the 116 Trophy offers low running costs. Nankang NS-2R tyres have a guide price of £260 per set and are designed for both wet and dry conditions. We recommend 116 Mintex brake pads (guide price £212.20), due to their reliability and longevity, but you have the freedom to choose. Gaz shocks are industry leaders in racing suspension, which is why we insist on them, priced at £525 per set. Spare parts are in abundance, inexpensive and easy to fit.
The 116 Trophy events are generally carried out over the course of one day, meaning you won’t need to worry about finding accommodation for a full weekend.
Mechanic services and car set up
When the balance of performance is this even, there are two main components that will put you on pole; driver experience and car set up.
The dark art of race car set up is one many have studied, but few have mastered. We know that it’s not only mechanics and engineers that are eager to get out on track. We strive to make our series as accessible as possible, our active community offers information, advice, and support openly. The 116 Trophy has a number of club cars that take part in periodic testing, on the various circuits we race at. The results from our club car testing sessions are shared with the group, providing drivers with standard references, data and a solid starting point for setting up their cars, should they wish to use it.
The 116 Trophy is proud to have some of the best teams in the business racing with us. Services such as; car building, set up and preparation and arrive and drive packages are all readily available to get you started. Speak to us to find out more about the services our teams can offer.
Arguably, one of the best investments you can make into your racing career is in yourself. Driver coaching is widely under valued, despite often having vastly more impact on your lap times and driving standards then expensive modifications. It’s also an opportunity to get out behind the wheel. Along with our race days and special events, the 116 Trophy can also arrange for track days and testing days, with one of our professional and dedicated teams. Whether you’re a novice, trying to lose your cross, or a seasoned veteran, looking to shave off those last few seconds, driver coaching and analysis can be made available for all levels of experience.
These are just a few key elements to consider when entering the world of Motorsport. The 116 team are here to make your introduction to the series as simple and enjoyable as possible. If you are thinking of racing with us, or you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Author: Zara Harrison