bruntingthorpe, formula vee, how to, llandow, open wheel, test day, testing, three sisters, track day, where to
Where to test a race car?
It is surprisingly hard to test a race car – especially if you have an open-wheeled/single seater – and it’s getting harder all the time.
A lot of the smaller (and cheaper) testing facilities seem to have moved focus towards hosting ‘driving experience’ days.
These are the circuits that you may or may not know about for testing:
Bruntingthorpe used to be great with it’s airfield runway layout and loads of run-off area, but this one is now out of the picture. They want you to produce your own liability insurance to be able to test there.
This liability insurance is the type of thing that trackday companies all have for their events, and your average Joe trying to get it for a day will find it almost impossible. If you have your own business, you may be able to find someone to cover you, but from my research it seems you’ll be looking at £250 for a day, then testing fees on top of that – so that no longer makes it a viable option. And that’s if you can even narrow down what SCOPE of cover you need – Bruntingthorpe are very vague when you ask any questions about this, and the impression is they don’t care or want you testing there.
That said, a few people do have cover for the year, such as Alan Harding from AHS – and if you’re in one of his cars you’ll be ok. He is not able to just let you do it on his policy, as insurance won’t allow this anymore.
I’m amazed that Bruntingthorpe don’t have their own insurance, because they are surely losing money?
A forgotten little track up in Wigan, that I thought only did karts and bikes, but their website does indeed say that cars are welcome!
They seems pretty flexible, and will let you come and test whenever there’s nothing else on for £60 per hour.
They answered my email enquiry very quickly, and are helpful and friendly. There is also a fair bit of info on their website.
Another small and forgotten track in Wales, around 20 miles West of Cardiff, where they actually used to hold Vee and Super Vee race meetings!
I sent several emails which were answered very quickly (thanks to Sharon and Louise!), and are also very flexible and relaxed over dates and times. Again, you can test there whenever they’re free, and they were happy for me to turn up “around 11ish” and book on whenever I was ready. It’s a bargain at £30 per hour, and although I was expected a boring but functional track to shake the car down on, I found I loved the place!
For less than a 50 second lap you get a very tight complex with flat-out high speed turns, a tight chicane, and it somehow has a million times more character than it should!
Short of these, you’re limited to paying through the nose for pre-race test days at £300-£400! Plus it will mean in most cases another night spent at the circuit, and if anything does fail it can be a busy old time trying to fix stuff so you can get out for qualifying the next morning.
If you keep your eyes open you might be able to squeeze into a test day for another series, so it’s worth checking out where Formula Ford, F4 etc are due to race. This can mean you’re out there with seriously fast machinery, and you might find you spend most of the time trying to stay out of their way…
If you’re in a tin-top you can take your pick of the many track days organised all over the place – but then you’ll be driving amongst a pack of Average Joe’s. Even worse is the added frustration of rules limiting where and how you can overtake anyone, so you might find you’re stuck behind a gaggle of Fiat Uno’s unable to pass for the entire session! The driving might also not be as predictable as you’d hope from MSA licence holders…
If you can get a few other Vee drivers to test with you, wherever you do it, it’s a massive bonus, because you’ll have some kind of reference point of how you’re doing. I blasted around Llandow all day thinking I was doing ok, but it wasn’t until I got to Silverstone that I found the other Vee drivers were gobsmackingly faster than me! You won’t get much from a test day where you’re not doing it right!
With an increased budget it would be great to cram in all the testing I could, because that’s the best way to get faster. At this stage I don’t know how much I’ll test this year, and most of it could well be turning up at a circuit and learning the track during the qualifying session – not ideal if you want to be competitive!
If I’ve missed anywhere, feel free to let me know! I hope this is of use to someone out there!
I always eagerly click your blog posts when I see them pop up in my inbox. Another great entry answering questions that people like myself who are thinking about getting in to the sport have pondered/are pondering.
Question for myself: do you know of any more tracks Herefordshire way? We border with Wales and despite ample space there just doesn’t seem to be even a disused airfield to rent…
Lastly, and I hope I’m not speaking out of turn, here’s some ideas for future blog posts of questions I have recently had (or am stilling having!):
– Where to find and buy a formula vee? Websites, shows, events, etc. Are there any ‘special offers’ during car shows?
– What to look for when buying second hand cars, equipment and where to find deals (ebay, gumtree, facebook groups, etc)?
– The most useful tools that you use (garage mechanic wise).
– The most useful training aids (i loved the xbox post and iracing website btw) you have discovered. Any books/videos? How did you become educated in racing lines, down force etc etc. Do you have a crib sheet of racing lines for each track? I assume your dash cam is also mighty useful for analysis.
– There doesn’t appear to be anywhere really dedicated to Vee news. The formula vee centre doesn’t appear to be updated regularly or with any kind of content of interest to new drivers. Even their facebook is dead. What resources have you found that are still useful?
– I’d personally also really enjoy reading technical blog posts that examine a element in great detail, e.g. tyre alignment and what set up is ideal for a given track and why
– Formula vee regulations: what can you get away with doing to your car? Any rule changes for this/next season.
Hi Tom – thanks for commenting! There’s a lot in there I could (and probably should) do blogs about, so great feedback for me, too!
Airfields all seem to be going the Bruntingthorpe way, so unless you’ve already got insurance that covers you and them, there’s nothing I could find within range of Birmingham. It might just be a phase that will change, though?
There are 2 Vee groups on Facebook – the official 750 Vee one, and also “Formula Vee UK” which seems to post more. The Vee Centre people are great in person, and they organise BBQ’s at the tracks and stuff, but the website has never taken off…
Glenn Hay is very much the mechanic, and bloody good at it – whilst I can handle simple stuff but am generally best making coffee and leaving him to fix stuff! He does listen to my set up suggestions and we are working well there – but anything else technical I’m still not the person… yet! It does help to learn, but it’s not essential to race – especially if you’re hiring a car.
I’ll try and catch some of the rest in a blog soon! 🙂
And sorry for the delay – I posted from my phone (took ages!!) and the reply disappeared somewhere!