Weeks before the actual event, the drivers will have sent their race entry forms to the club’s competition secretary. Most clubs offer their entries digitally via links on their websites. Depending on the area, clubs could have anything from maybe 70 to well over 200 entries, and anything from 7 to 11 or more classes. A lot of behind-the-scenes hard work occurs before the actual day of the race from arranging the Motorsport UK permit (which covers the insurance), through to sending confirmation of entries, compiling and printing the programme.
Most clubs have a practice day on the Saturday before the race day. This is an additional fee, and usually is open to anyone that has a kart complying with the regulations for the races and usually a licence is not required. But some very busy clubs restrict the practice day to those entered in the race unless a special arrangement is made in advance.
Drivers usually arrive very early on race or practice day and in some cases, the night before if they have a long way to travel. The first action is signing-on. Every driver must produce his/her competition licence issued by the sport’s governing body the Motorsport UK. If the driver is under 18 years of age, then his or her parent or guardian needs to have a PG Entrants licence as well. Various forms are completed and entry fees paid. Much of this is now done digitally, on a website or via a phone app. Signing on and scrutineering will take place from before 8am to just after 9am. Next, the equipment has to be checked by officially appointed Scrutineers. Every bit of the kit has to conform to the rules and regulations laid down by Motorsport UK. This ensures that the kart and driver meet the strict requirements of his/her chosen class and everything passes the stringent safety checks.
At around 9 am the drivers attend a briefing by the Clerk of the Course. He informs them of any information pertinent to the day’s events and of any special regulations relating to the day or to the circuit. Novices and anyone new to the circuit will receive a special extra briefing. After that, practice begins. This is in race order by class or kart and lasts for 3 laps each.
Once the practice is complete we start racing properly. For normal club meetings, every driver completes two or three heats and a final. In the heats, grid positions are allocated to give every driver an equal chance of success. Thus a driver who is on pole for the first heat can expect to be on the last grid place for heat two. The only exception is for that of the novice driver, who hasn’t yet achieved in full competition licence and will start at the back. They will have black number plates with white numbers to show they are a novice. The points scored by the drivers in the heats determined his/her grid position for the final. Some clubs might have timed qualifying, in which case novices do not need to start at the back. Also some clubs might have standing starts for classes with clutches, and usually gearbox karts have standing starts too.
Finals are run after a lunch break and are always very competitive events, the heats having sorted the fastest to the front etc. Finals have more laps than heats. Trophies are awarded to the first three or four finishers in every class at the end of the day. Some Kart Clubs give out the trophies 30 minutes or so after the end of each final, so that families and teams can get on the road home more quickly. The points scored by the drivers during the meeting (provided they are Club Members) count towards the annual Club Championship. At the end of the year the scores are added up and usually the driver can drop one or more of his worst scores, then the final club championship table will be published. Usually there is an awards evening where the annual trophies are presented, and sometimes some special awards or prizes too.
Remember also the squad of officials and marshals that volunteer to come along and make the meeting a success. If you are interested in helping, please contact a club official.