Want to join us on the grid for 2018? Of course you do! Here’s a basic guide to start your adventures with the Mini 7 Racing Club, from novice enthusiast to Mini racing hero.
1. Devise a plan - a sensible plan
If you’ve never driven on track before, book into a trackday to get a flavour of motorsport. Although trackdays are a fantastic starting point, the downside is that overtaking is often restricted to the straights, and you may be bundled in with drivers of far more powerful machinery.
Ideally look for a Mini-only session, such as a Mini Spares track evening or the Castle Combe Action Day, where you’ll be joined by likeminded enthusiasts.
Go karting can also be a fantastic way of learning the basics of race craft and car control, and for Mini racing it can be especially good to learn about momentum - optimum corner speed and smooth driving to improve lap times. Most circuits hold arrive-and-drive championships, so for around £40-50 you can begin to perfect your race craft in relative safety. Try go karting outdoors in the wet for a flavour of chronic understeer!
Yearning for a bit more? Sounds like you’re ready...
2. Decide which series suits you best
We hold two basic categories of Mini racing, with individual classes within. Novices starting out may wish to consider the Mini Se7en S-Class, where S stands for Scholarship. These cars utilise a lightly modified 1275 A-Series engine producing in the region of 80bhp.
Helical synchromesh gearboxes, stock cylinder heads and basic distributor ignition systems are many of the regulations in place to ensure a level playing field. The S-Class is aimed at those hoping to build a car at home on the driveway on a limited budget.
In the same race, but scoring separate championship points, is the long-running Mini Se7en class. These cars use highly-tuned 998cc A-Series engines capable of just over 100bhp. Expect steel crankshafts, forged pistons, modified 1275 cylinder heads, mapped ignition and dog-engagement straight-cut gearboxes. This is our most popular championship, with upwards of 20 cars at every round. Engines are more highly strung, with increased running costs to S-Class.
Moving up to the Mini Miglia series, these cars take the Mini Se7en and add Dunlop slick tyres on wide racing wheels, four-pot front brakes and a more powerful 1275-based engine. Front-running cars are pushing out over 120bhp, and perfected handling can see these miniature touring cars lapping faster than a classic Mini really should! Costs are likely to be a tad more than the Se7ens, simply because the speed has increased.
Engine costs will be identical to Mini Se7en - it's the tyres and brakes that make a difference here. Many drivers will say the costs are virtually identical between these two series.
From here we have the Mini Libre class, a less restricted series that aims to get fellow circuit racers on track with the Mini Miglias. If you already have a potent trackday or hillclimb car, this could be the series for you. Expect crossflow heads, fuel injection and other ingenious modifications.
The basic car differs very little across all categories, so ultimately your choice will come down to budget. Be realistic about the costs and choose the series you’ll be able to enjoy the most on your budget. Running at the back of the Mini Miglia grid may be less fun than mid-field in the Se7en S-Class field, for example.
3. Find/build a car.
Going racing would be a real challenge without a car! Three avenues here - build/rebuild a car yourself at home, commission one of our many club specialists to build one for you, or buy a Mini that’s ready to go. DIY style will of course work out the cheapest if you have the necessary skills, tools and time. However, like building your own home, you’re unlikely to build the best car possible on the first attempt.
Visiting a specialist will be more pricey on the labour, but choose the right contact and you’ll be able to make use of their experience, especially when it comes to safety regs and car setup.
Buying a pre-prepared car is undoubtably the most affordable option, but choose wisely, as buying a Mini that’s a bit long in the tooth may give you more work than expected. Safety equipment such as seats, harnesses and extinguishers all expire, so be wary of hidden extras.
Also be aware that our regulations change on a regular basis, if looking at an older car. Seeing a car on track before purchase would be preferable, and also check for previous accident damage/repairs.
We’d recommend initially joining the club as a social member to make the most of our social media groups, chat, club magazine and parts discounts. Pop over to a race meeting and get to know us - we’re a welcoming bunch and will be more than happy to offer advice on where to begin.
It's best to chat once the dust has settled, because things can often be frantic between races in the paddock! Don't be offended if someone is initially too busy to chat.
4. License up
To race with the Mini 7 Racing Club you must be a Racing Member. At £195 per season this represents great value for money compared to other race series. In addition you will need to purchase an MSA ‘Go Racing’ pack at £99, which includes your first year’s race license.
Once you receive the pack you will need to visit a local race centre to complete an ARDS test. This one-off fee is around £250 depending on the circuit.
After watching an MSA safety video, you will sit the first part of the test, a two-part written assessment to check your knowledge of Section Q of the MSA Competitors and Officials Yearbook (Blue Book) on Car Racing.
Then it's on to the driving part of the test, where an instructor will assess your track driving during a 20-minute lapping session in a road car. The idea is to be safe, not set a new lap record!
We would highly recommend speaking to a fellow Mini racer regarding tuition and learning the ropes of circuit racing, as you will enjoy your first race experience that much more with some confidence on track.
5. Read the regulations thoroughly
Swot up on both the Mini 7 Race regulations and the MSA Blue Book. Between these two, you will find everything you need, from car specifications to seat choice and racewear.
Above all, never be afraid to ask questions, as we all have to learn somehow. Good luck and we look forward to seeing you join us on the grid in 2018!