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Caterham Graduate Racing


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#21 Captain Vimes

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Posted 30 January 2017 - 10:12 PM

Back on track with the thread..and a quick look at what's required to even get on a race grid as it's been a journey of discovery for me.

 

Car Stuff

1. Get a car that meets all the regulations (easy if you buy a racer)

2. Decide if you're going to get the car transported/stored by a race team (from about £6k/year for a caterham) or if you're going to tow it around the country

3. Buy a suitable trailer but beware that in the off season everyone is trying to buy a trailer so they're in demand and expensive

4. Buy a suitable tow car

5. Figure out where on earth you store a race car, trailer, tow car, VX, wife's car, kids bikes....when the house goes on Rightmove you realise that the transported option was actually quite cheap but you've started now so you may as well carry on.

6. Acquire some spares (2nd set of wheels, spare pads, etc.)

7. Upgrade your trailer to include a wheel rack and tool box as there's no way to get all this stuff in the tow car

8. Upgrade the tow car as you realise that with all the stuff you need to carry it's over the tow limit of the car

9. Check your driving license has B+E categories and that you're legal to drive with a loaded up car and trailer

10. Buy some more security for your trailer to avoid it driving off on itself

11. Jerry cans - get a couple of 20L metal can and find a local garage that will allow you to fill them up

12. Get some straps to hold the tow car down

12. Buy/fit a transponder for lap timing (reqd. obviously)

13. Make sure fire extinguisher is in date or update if needed

14. Get yourself comfortable in the car (lower floor in my case, adjust pedals/seat etc.)

 

Sign up to clubs (each cost ££)

1. Join the racing club you want to race with (in my case, Caterham Graduate Racing Club)

2. Sign up to BARC (British Automobile Racing Club) as they're the ones that organise the races

 

Study the regulations (this bit is free!)

1. Study the relevant bits of the MSA blue book to make sure you and the car are compliant with all the regs (518 pages for 2017)

2. Study the championship regulations for the series you're racing in

 

Buy your racewear

All of the below is needed/recommended and has to be to current regulation and in date: 1. In date harness

2. Helmet

3. HANS/FHR device

4. Race Suit

5. Gloves

6. Boots

7. Balaclava

8. Socks

9. Vest

10. Fire proof Y fronts (giggity)

11. Arm restraints (if in open top car)

Don't expect much change from £1500 if you're buying name brands (and this is your ar$e so why would you scrimp on this bit).

 

Get a race License

1. Buy the MSA go racing pack (£100)

2. Pass your ARDS test (£250)

3. Pass a medical (£70-£100 cash to your local GP for 15 mins of their time and then pocket the cash)

Congratulations you now have a National B license and you have to drive with your learner plates (black cross) until you have 6 signatures on your upgrade card. Then you can upgrade to a National A which will enable you to race in Europe (if your racing with a British club)

 

Track side support

1. There's a few options available for the Grads racing from an 'emergency' track side support where you pay an upfront fee that pays for labour and access to spares on race day. This can go right up to transported/prepared car with hospitality and people on hand to help with setup on the day.

 

Then the real spending can start on:

- Entry Fees for racing

- Entry fees for testing

- Hotels / camping

- Fuel (for tow car, race car, driver & entourage)

- Beer

- Damage

- Insurance

- Beer

 

I'm working through these lists. I haven't got the the end of any of them yet...


Edited by Captain Vimes, 30 January 2017 - 10:14 PM.


#22 SteveA

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 09:53 AM

My car stuff is all sorted but I've just noticed my Harness ran out last month. I've got my lid and HANS (takes some getting used to due to restricted movement and clipping it on blind) need a racesuit and underwear to get that lot sorted. Great thread as a checklist to let me know what I've left to do.



#23 james_ly

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 10:38 AM

5. Figure out where on earth you store a race car, trailer, tow car, VX, wife's car, kids bikes....when the house goes on Rightmove you realise that the transported option was actually quite cheap but you've started now so you may as well carry on.
 
:lol:


#24 Pidgeon

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 11:09 AM

Never assume that 'Car Stuff' number one is the case.  Many a novice comes adrift at first scrutineering for this reason and the excuse 'it raced last year' doesn't cut it.  There's a lot of bent cars out there (as in hooky, not actually bent).

 

Racewear 7, 8 9 and 10 weren't compulsory for domestic races last year.  I have 7-11 for European rounds.

 

There's no 's' in 'licence' BTW ;)



#25 SteveA

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 11:55 AM

:yeahthat: Mcmillan offer a scrutieering check at the first test day of the season to try and get this sorted.



#26 siztenboots

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 11:59 AM

not a fan of blade hard points in suspension, after seeing SteveA's arb snap at the ring



#27 SteveA

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 12:06 PM

I snapped two :)



#28 Captain Vimes

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 12:48 PM

Never assume that 'Car Stuff' number one is the case.  Many a novice comes adrift at first scrutineering for this reason and the excuse 'it raced last year' doesn't cut it.  There's a lot of bent cars out there (as in hooky, not actually bent).

 

Racewear 7, 8 9 and 10 weren't compulsory for domestic races last year.  I have 7-11 for European rounds.

 

There's no 's' in 'licence' BTW ;)

 

Car stuff - agreed. In fact the first car I went to look at was bent (actually bent, not hooky). After driving for 3 hours I got out the car and in 30 seconds spotted that the front wishbone wasn't connected. After asking why that was the case we very quickly discovered the top wishbone wasn't actually connected to the chassis. It would appear that a last lap tussle that ended in contact had also ripped the suspension mount off of the chassis.

 

The owner was pretty surprised to find this and was very apologetic. The car had been brought back from Spa by McMillan and the owner had asked them to look over it to make sure it was ready for sale. He had driven to the midlands to collect the car only a few days previously and was now faced with taking it all the way back and a big bill to have the chassis repaired...

 

Which kind of undermines the reason I'm comfortable with my current car... It has been maintained by McMillan through it's life and was at McMillans having work done when I enquired about it. I subsequently phoned them and spoke to the owner and he confirmed it's authenticity and generally good condition (best condition mega grad he knows of). In fact it turns out that my car was built by the owner of McMillan motorsport while he worked at Caterham all those years ago...

 

 

Racewear - agreed, hence the 'recommended' comment. As I'm planning to compete in the European round I'll need them anyway although I'm not looking forward to a Dutch official inspecting my underwear...

 

Licence - sorry.  



#29 Captain Vimes

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 12:52 PM

not a fan of blade hard points in suspension, after seeing SteveA's arb snap at the ring

 

This one's been on the car since 2005ish and has survived 10 years of racing.

 

I'll keep my eye on it but don't think it's under too much stress on a Caterham.



#30 SteveA

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 01:36 PM

In the official championship you need to have one of the OEM bars (if your classification allows it) I have all 4 but they do take a good 15 minutes to swap over, a blade would be a good time saver. Might be worth you buying a spare set of cycle/rear wings and a nose cone now. If you have a shunt, heavily damaged parts will not pass the next scrutineer checks and the demand for them increases significantly during the season (as you would expect). I've just bought a full set from kitcardirect

 

(http://www.kitcardir...k/caterham.html)

 

There is a 28 day lead time on them at the moment.

 

 

ETA - Yours will probably be an Imperial chassis, mine is Metric (2009 onwards I think)


Edited by SteveA, 31 January 2017 - 01:38 PM.


#31 Captain Vimes

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 03:16 PM

Thanks Steve ARB is fairly free in my class: 5.8.4 (iii) An adjustable front anti-roll bar may be used. The design and supply of the front anti-roll bar is free except that bar must use only the four standard Caterham mounting points. Front anti-roll bars with adjustable stiffness may be used, but not remote adjustment, i.e. the driver must not be able to adjust the bar without getting out of the cockpit. Not that it helps much. The champion in 2015 & 2016 just used a medium bar (blue?) in the dry and no bar in the wet. He also didn't run a rear ARB in any weather to improve traction out of the corner. As for spares, I plan to get McMillan trackside emergency support and let them carry a stock of parts around the country for me. :)

#32 SteveA

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 04:17 PM

Kerching :lol:

 

Hopefully they don't use OEM Caterham nosecones as they have recently doubled in price.



#33 Andrew aka Stuwy

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 01:52 PM

so cool, its about time

#34 Captain Vimes

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 10:55 PM

The Caterham went back to its birthplace today, Arch motorsports, who used to hand build all the chassis for Caterham.

It's a traditional British car / engineering firm with men in blue overalls, bits of cars all over the place in various states of repair including S2 and s3 caterhams (obviously) but they also make the chassis for Ariel so there's numerous Nomads and Atom chassis with raw beautiful brazing and other projects like rebuilding D-type Jaguar chassis, an old Vincent motorbike etc..

It's a family run business and is still run by the sons of the original founder. I had a lowered floor fitted on the drivers side and when speaking to the owner he said 'oh I invented those, I made one for my car as I didn't fit and mentioned it to Caterham who decided they wanted to offer it as an option'...

Anyway, the floor is all sorted now and the seat belts have been remounted to work with the new lower seat.
Nearly ready to drive it...

A couple of pics from today:

S2 Caterham being restored:
Posted Image

Atom that's been painted:
Posted Image

Posted Image

Floor going in:
Posted Image

The x-trail tow car worked perfectly for lugging the trailer around:
Posted Image

Edited by Captain Vimes, 03 February 2017 - 10:57 PM.


#35 Zoobeef

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 11:11 PM

I bought the socks, bottoms, top and balaclava as it wasnt much extra on everything else I bought. And if it gives me a few more second's in a fire then thall help.

Another bonus is it hopefully will collect sweat.



#36 Captain Vimes

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 09:38 PM

Time to update this thread as I plan to keep it as a blog. Sorry in advance if it gets boring.

 

I'll start with a little write up of the ARDS test:

 

22/1/17 – ARDS Test

For some reason I decided to book my ARDS for 8am on a Sunday morning, which meant setting the alarm for a time I didn't know existed on a Sunday. Fortunately I woke up to a bright and sunny day but unfortunately it was in January so bright and sunny also meant freezing temperatures. After scraping the car and getting to Brands Hatch, the temperatures had warmed up to a balmy -2c. The track was clearly frozen despite the trucks on track who were doing their best to improve the situation by heating it up. They later decided that wasn’t working so resorted to getting the tractor out to spread salt across the circuit. So it wasn’t ideal conditions for going quickly (getting the racing excuses in already).

 

After sign-on I went up to the ‘classroom’ and joined my fellow ARDS test pupils. There were 2 other guys there with various levels of race/karting/motorbike experience but it was a pretty relaxed atmosphere. We were instructed for the theory part of the day by Peter, who is the head instructor at Brands Hatch. We watched the standard MSA video and then Peter highlighted key areas we needed to be aware of (flags being a key part!).

 

The test is in 2 parts: a written theory test and a practical driving test. We completed the theory test first and despite having 20 minutes we all completed in 10 mins and all passed with 100% scores (phew!). So with the theory out the way it was onto the driving ‘test’. Of the 3 of us, I opted to go first.

 

The track day that was on at the same time had been delayed until 10am to allow the track to defrost. By the time I was joining the circuit the track day drivers had only just finished the sighting laps and were all still coming up to speed, which was probably a good thing but it meant that the track was still covered in salt and very slippery. It also meant that plenty of drivers were still coming up to speed and taking some ‘interesting’ lines and not watching mirrors.

 

I was led by a different instructor for this part of the test and after introductions it was time for him to drive me round for a few laps and talk through what he was expecting me to do. The key is to be smooth, controlled and safe whilst maintaining a reasonable pace but with no need to set a qualifying record. He clearly knows the track very well, talking me through sections with new tarmac and how to adjust lines to take advantage of it. Even overtaking 2 mini’s on the exit of clearways who were driving ‘dangerously slowly’…

 

Anyway, onto my turn. 



#37 Captain Vimes

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 09:43 PM

First thing is to make sure you’re comfortable in the car. Adjust seat, steering wheel, mirrors as needed. Then onto the driving. I exited the pits carefully and started building up speed. The surprising thing was the complete lack of grip. This didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the instructor though! The guidance from Peter was to “drive at around 70%, don’t try and be Lewis Hamilton just set a good, steady pace, consistent turn in points, keep it in high gears (4th/5th) don’t change gear at the apex, have good awareness of cars around, obey flag signals appropriately and whatever happens DON’T spin or leave the circuit” (defined as the track limits).

 

Someone forgot to mention the 70% thing to the instructor… out of every corner the car was understeering and yet the guidance was to give it more power, which I did. We got to the point where the car would neatly understeer off the tarmac onto the curbs on corner exit to use every last bit of the track and stirring the gearbox regularly to get more power and even overtook a 911 down the straight. Which is great but sliding towards the track limits on full throttle wasn’t what I had been expecting from the briefing!

 

The good news is that I passed! The final assessment includes some grades for things like corner approach, use of gears etc. I didn’t get a copy but the marks all seemed to be either A or B+ so I can’t have been too bad.

 

I picked up some useful tips on the driving section which I can use going forward: like dealing with FWD understeer by unwinding the lock and adding power. It was also insightful just how close the instructor was driving to other cars. My first race/test day is going to be an eye opener!

 

Next step was to actually drive this Caterham further than onto the trailer!



#38 Duncan VXR

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Posted 18 February 2017 - 07:14 AM

Great update and well done passing 😊 DG

#39 rob999

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Posted 18 February 2017 - 11:16 AM

Well done Kev :)

#40 Captain Vimes

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 09:21 PM

The thread is getting a little out of date but in short, before going racing I figured I should at least get the Caterham on a track day to familiarise myself with the handling and make sure it actually works.

 

I've covered it's 1st outing in the track day thread (http://www.vx220.org...feb-13th/page-9 ) so will try an summarise briefly:

- It's great fun to drive but quite different to a VX

- It's slower to accelerate, especially at high speed but faster in the corners with even more feel.

- My lap times around Brands were similar to my SC VX (low 55s) but I was getting quicker all through the day so there's more to come.

- The straight cut gearbox makes an absolute racket and together with an aggressive clutch make driving at low speeds a challenge. Otherwise it's very balanced and will just go round and round all day without even getting the tyres warm.

 

Main issues:

 

- Battery Key: In my effort to load the car up with everything I needed, I managed to forgot the bloody red battery key so couldn't start the car. After wasting 30 minutes going over to the Brands Hatch engineering workshop looking for one it turned out that Batman had a spare which got me out of trouble (thank you!!)... for 30 seconds until I realised the battery was dead!

 

- After jump starting with a battery pack from Batman (thank you!!) and borrowing his multimeter (thank you!!) It turns out the battery wasn't charging. Batman and Zoobeef swooped into action and spotted that the alternator wasn't connected. They quickly found a bit of flex cable and connected it directly to the battery and got it all working (thank you!!) whilst burning their hands on the exhaust manifold (sorry, hope it's better now). On later inspection, it turns out the previous owner had replaced the old broken alternator with a nice lightweight race item which had the wrong connector (and is also not allowed under the regs). The company that fitted it for him failed to mention the connector issue or the fact it's not legal and just left the connector unplugged! No wonder he had starting issues at his last race. I've since replaced with a reconditioned item from a local company.

 

- Final concern was that despite giving it death on track the water and oil temps were very cool (50c water, 60c oil). I later discovered that race Caterhams don't run a thermostat so you need to tape over the radiator in cool conditions (like an old London Cab!). It was also running quite 'lumpy' and I suspect this was because it wasn't ever fully warm.

 

So all in all, a worthwhile learning experience with lessons I'd rather pick up on a track day than race day.

 

Next trip was to Donington Park with all the Caterham racers for a 'friendly' pre-season track day...

 

Video from Brands:

 






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