Motorsport in the UK may seem glamourous when you see the British Grand Prix or the BTCC on TV. However, outside the realm of these behemoths in the UK motorsport industry, lies the smaller club scene. No monster budgets, no glitz and glamour, just pure, intense racing.
Throughout the past 18 months I have had the opportunity to witness both the big and the small. Whilst yes, the bigger series attract huge crowds and top-level teams and drivers, it is actually the club series that deliver the knockout on the track.
Despite the limited budget of some of the racers, they are certainly not shy when it comes to getting their elbows out. Witnessing the BRSCC Caterhams run three-wide through Riches at Snetterton without contact is something to behold. Not only once, but lap after lap they continue to run side by side no matter where they are on the circuit.
Heading out of Williams corner in a big queue, the slipstreaming battle commences as they charge into the fearsome Brundle and Nelson complex. They have a habit of running two even three abreast through here too which usually spells disaster in other series but somehow they still keep it clean.
This fiesty action continues until the 30-minute races come to a close with more often than not, an intense slipstreaming battle to the line with a photo finish.
Not only this but the top 6 finished within a second of the winner, practically unheard of in any other form of motorsport these days. To put it into perspective, the last time this happened in F1 was the 1971 Italian Grand Prix, almost 49 years ago.
It’s not only Caterhams that provide this kind of action though. The BRSCC MX5 championships also have their fair share of nail biting action. With these races only being 20 minutes long, the drivers give it everything they’ve got to try and secure that precious victory. As a result, you will often see the tail end stepping out of line having surpassed the limit of adhesion.
Not only this but the drivers aren’t afraid of rubbing panels with each other. This often leads to intense action with cars running bumper to bumper for the entire race with somehow (usually) all of the cars making it to the finish ready to do it all again just hours later with multiple races per day to keep the crowd thoroughly entertained.
One of the fastest club series in the country is the formidable F3 Cup series, featuring FIA homologated cars from 1980 all the way up to much faster 2016 models.
This is now one of the only opportunities worldwide to see these cars race. Kickstarting the careers of so many drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Valterri Bottas and Max Verstappen. Boasting faster lap times than the official BRDC British F3 series, action-packed races and sleek looking race cars, this is one of my favourite series to watch trackside.
The ability to get up close and personal with these spectacular machines just adds to the excitement as all of the intricate details in the front wing all the way to the rear diffuser are on show for all to see. Compare this to Formula One and you have absolutely no chance of getting anywhere near as close unless you’re part of the actual team themselves.
Time Attack UK
In stark contrast to any of the above, Time Attack UK offers some of the most spectacular creations on display in an attempt to set the fastest lap possible throughout the day. Seeing these drivers push their homemade creations to the absolute limit is pure poetry in motion. This does come with its risks. The engines being pushed to within an inch of their life have a tendency to grenade themselves however, this tends to just further pump up the crowd as smoke pours from the cars reminiscent of the old turbo days in Formula One.
Witnessing lap records being broken year on year is another reason to keep coming back. There may not be any racing but the sheer speed of these fire breathing monsters is more than enough to get the blood pumping.
The final favourite club series has to be GT Cup. One of the beautiful things about this series is the huge choice of cars which are eligible to compete. Current and outdated GT3 and GT4 machinery are all eligible to compete and often provide huge grids of rare cars that otherwise wouldn’t have been seen together. An example is the Mosler MT900R from 2002 competing against the 2019 specification Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
All of these series I believe offer such great variety and entertainment that it’s hard to see why they’re so overlooked. As previously mentioned, they may not have the outright speed or the glamorous aspects that are associated with Formula One or the World Endurance Championship but for outright, pure, wheel to wheel racing, these series are not to be missed.