Beginners Guide

Getting into any form of motorsport for the first time is a daunting prospect and it is a step up from track days with regards to regulations and safety equipment.  This guide should help you get into the start gate for the first time.

MSA 2014 YearbookMSA Blue Book

This is the bible for all rules and regulations for motorsport in the UK and all the information contained within this guide is drawn on from the book.  You get a hardcopy of it when you buy an MSA Licence, but it’s all available online in PDF form.  MSA Blue Book.

MSA Licence

To compete at MSA speed events you will need to hold an MSA licence. The MSA 2014 licenceminimum level of license required is the Non-Race National B, which remains £43 for the 2015 season and this is suitable for anyone with a road legal car.

Apply for the licence is simple and can be done either online or by post.  There’s no test to complete and all you will need is a photo of yourself.  Most people won’t need a medical either.  Your licence may even be with you within the week.

If you car isn’t road legal you may need to hold a Speed National A licence.  Section S7.1.5 of the Blue Book details the requirement.

Your Safety Requirements

All motorsports require some level of self protection and sprinting is no different even if it is at the lower end of the scale.

Competitor Safety Regs

It is important that you check what you are buying is applicable to sprinting. For example some basic overalls and helmets will not be certified to the correct levels and so will not pass scrutineering at the event.

A helmet needs to conform to these regs:


FIA 8860-2004
FIA 8860-2010
SNELL SA2005. (Not valid after 31/12/2018)
SFI Foundation 31.1A, 31.2A. (Not valid after 31.12.2018)
BS6658 Type A/FR (Not valid after 31/12/2015)


Overalls these regs:

omp_ia01828e-blkFIA 8856-2000
FIA 1986 Standard

Clean flame-resistant overalls must be worn which can be manufactured from Nomex III, Proban or equivalent materials.

Competitors are required to wear flame-resistant gloves which meet ISO 6940 standard.


Your car and its safety requirements

Whilst for 90% of the people going into this no modifications or extra safety devices will be required you need to fully research this.

First of all read the regulations in the blue book to find which category your car will be classed in:

Hill Climb and Sprint Regs

These are detailed from reg 10.10 onwards.

Once you have confirmed which class you’ll be in, and if you are unsure you are advised to either speak to your club or phone the MSA , you can then look at the vehicle safety requirements which are relevant to the class you are entering.

This is detailed in reg 10.1.1 in the above link.

Where the Elise/Exige sits within the class structure is sometimes a bone of contention. Depending on whether you judge your variant of car to have been produced in volumes of 1000 or more per year or if you think it fits in the 20-1000 cars per year. If it’s the former enter yourself in Road Going Production, if it’s the latter Road Going Specialist Production. In specialist production engine changes are allowed. At some events all Elise variant cars are grouped together in specialist production, at others I’ve seen cars spread between the two classes.

Also look over the safety regs for vehicles in the blue book.

Vehicle Safety Regs

Also, even though you may be running normal road tyres, make sure they are listed in either of the following 1A or 1B lists.

List 1A and 1B Tyres

Prepare your car

It goes without saying that your car should be in good condition. If you’re not completely competent with a set of spanners I’d recommend taking it to a Lotus specialist, particularly one with a motorsport background to get a full health check. Make sure you’re telling them what you are going to be using it for and they can advise accordingly.

You’ll need a timing strut at the front of the car as well. Helpfully this has been covered in the TechWiki.

Making a timing strut

You’ll also require numbers for the side of your car. These will vary from sprint to sprint and you’ll be told of your number once your entry to the sprint has been accepted and the entries list produced (around 2 weeks prior to the event). The numbers need to be contrasting to the colour of your car. You should not arrive or leave the event with the number showing on your vehicle. Either cover it up or remove it. Sticky numbers can be obtained from lots of places such as Merlin Motorsport.

Race Numbers

You’ll also need a few other stickers to denote the way to turn your ignition off. This sticker set seems to cover all eventualities:

Other stickers

You’ll also have to cover your battery earth lead in yellow tape to let people know which one it is in an emergency.

What to take on the day

The right attitude is the main one. It’s not a track day, and it’s also not a race. It’s you against yourself mainly. And if you just aim to have an improvement in your times throughout the day you will have achieved something.

Take with you the following items as the bare essentials:
– Tyre pressure gauge
– Foot pump
– Oil
– Coolant
– Cable ties
– Gaffa tape
– Small selection of tools.

You should consider taking a Jack as well and also possibly a plastic sheet to put under the vehicle to protect the ground oil leaks (some venues insist on this).

Documents required:
– MSA Licence
– Motor club membership card
– MOT / V5 / Insurance (if entering road going class)

On the day itself

Turn up in good time to enable you to sign on, walk the course and attend the drivers briefing, 1-2 hours prior to first practice is a good rule. You’ll be parked up in competing classes generally. Find out when scruitineering is and be with your car at the allotted time. Have everything available to hand and be prepared to show any area of the car they ask for.
Finally ENJOY YOURSELF. It’s addictive and a whole different type of adrenaline rush to a trackday.