Get Inspired: How to get into motorsport

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Horner's five reasons to take part in motorsport
Fast Answers
Why get into motorsport?It's fast, fun and accessible.
Who is it for?Everyone with a passion for fun and four wheels. Start by joining Motorsport UK.
Is there a cheap option?There are lots of entry level events that you can do in your standard or lightly modified road car. Find a local motor club here.
What if I want a proper workout?Any high-speed form of motorsport is more physical that you might imagine. Trial biking is perhaps the most physically demanding.
Can I take it to another level?If you've tried entry level club motorsport and want to progress, there are lots of affordable options across various types of motorsport. For cars, you'll need a competition licence from Motorsport UK. For bikes, it's the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU).
Is there a disability option?One of the best things about motorsport is that disabled drivers and riders can compete against able-bodied competitors on a level playing field.
Is there a family option?Motorsport paddocks are friendly places that welcome the whole family. Every competitor needs his or her support crew, so there's something for everyone to get stuck into.
So how do I take part?Visit the Motorsport UK website to find your local motor club, or check out the ACU if you're in to bikes.

Motorsport may be big business at the top level but what you see on TV is only the very tip of an iceberg.

In the UK alone, there are 30,000 competition licence holders competing in car-based motorsport and there are 720 Motorsport UK registered clubs nationwide.

So, whether you want to start climbing the ladder towards world championship glory or simply indulge your passion for cars and competition at the weekends, there's something out there for you.

Here's a simple guide to help you get started.

Circuit racing

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Formula E driver Sam Bird talks about his journey into motorsport

You may have been inspired to take up motorsport by watching F1, which is widely recognised as the pinnacle of the sport, or you have seen BBC's coverage of Formula E, which uses only electric powered cars.

First, try some track days to make sure you're comfortable driving quickly on a track. Then take a look at what's on offer from racing clubs such as the 750 Motor Club, British Automobile Racing Club (BARC), British Racing & Sports Car Club (BRSCC), Classic Sports Car Club (CSCC) and Motorsport Vision Racing (MSVR).

You can also get your Go Racing starter pack from Motorsport UK.

Karting

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Get Inspired: Young karting champion meets idol

Lewis Hamilton has said that karting is still "the best form of racing".

The best way to try it for the first time is to visit your local kart centre and experience 'arrive-and-drive' karting. There are more than 130 centres around the country, you can find your nearest one on the National Karting Association (NKA) website. and get your Go Karting starter pack from Motorsport UK.

Rallying

A rally car bouncing over a bump in the road.
The first World Rallying Championship was not competed until 1979, despite the sport being in existence since the 19th century

A driver and a navigator race to complete the circuit in the shortest amount of time, with the winner being judged by time trial, not direct racing - the high-profile World Rally Championship sits at the top of the rallying tree, but it's also one of the most popular types of motorsport at club level.

To get started, join your local club and try some road rallies, which take place on the public highway and are pegged to an average speed of no more than 30mph. Find out more here.

Motorcycle sport

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2015 World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea reflects on his route to glory

If you prefer your thrills on two wheels rather than four then motorcycle events may be for you. There are a vast amount of sports out there, so check out this brief introduction to some of the more popular ones, and head to the Auto-Cycle Union to find opportunities near you.

  • The F1 of the motorcycle racing world, track racing's pinnacle is MotoGP, with Moto2 and Moto3 acting as its feeder sports.
  • Driving at high speed around a track on a motorbike with no brakes, using skill and technique to outmanoeuvre your competition. Sound good? Then speedway is the event for you!
  • Rather than racing a circuit, in trial biking the competition takes place over rocks, up hills and/or across streams. Riders are not permitted to touch the ground with their feet and are given penalties for footing or stopping.
  • Taking place on tight, technical dirt tracks, motocross can be judged in two ways - through racing or on a contestant's flair and style as they perform acrobatic jumps and stunts.
  • Enduro is designed to test your, you guessed it, endurance! Races can take hours to complete, navigating mother nature and the elements - just make sure you don't run out of petrol!

Club motorsport

Rallycross
The British Trial and Rally Drivers Association hosts numerous types of motorsport, including rallycross

There are around 750 local motor clubs in the UK - social hubs for enthusiasts which run grassroots events that you can compete in for the cost of club membership and a small entry fee.

The great thing is, for many of these events you can use your standard road car. For example, AutoSOLO involves driving as quickly as possible around a course marked out by cones, usually on a large asphalt area.

Because they are run by registered clubs, they are properly organised and controlled. To find your local club, visit Motorsport UK.

Other types of motorsport

There are a whole load of other types of motorsport which you can get involved from, such as Cross Country for racing a 4x4 vehicle to Rallycross, a combination of Rallying and Circuit Racing. Here is more information on all these different forms of motorsport.

Disability

Former British paratrooper Thomas Neathway competed in the Dakar Rally in 2013
Former British paratrooper Thomas Neathway competed in the Dakar Rally in 2013

Motorsport is unique because those with disabilities can compete against non-disabled drivers in the same events on a level playing field.

Billy Monger is a shining example of this. In 2017, Billy lost his legs in a tragic F4 accident, and in 2018 he stepped up to British F3, scoring three podiums and one pole position in a car specially adapted with hand controls.

There are also opportunities at the opposite end of the motorsport spectrum. For example, Loughborough Car Club runs an annual Disabled Driver Scholarship, offering the winner a fully funded season of club motorsport.

Volunteering

A marshal at the 2016 Russian Grand Prix
Marshals and volunteers are crucial to the smooth and safe running of motorsport

Not every motorsport fan wants to compete and fortunately there are some great ways to get more closely involved in the sport without getting behind the wheel.

Almost all motorsport events need marshals, who are recognisable for their bright orange overalls. They perform a range of essential duties, from displaying flag signals for competitors at race events to manning time controls or junctions on a rally. Visit the British Motorsport Marshals Club (BMMC) website.

There's also a range of other roles such as stewards and the Clerk of the Course who has overall responsibility for an event, while stewards are there to help ensure fair play and safety.

What next?

1. Find your local club via Motorsport UK, the Auto-Cycle Union or Motorcycle Sport Scotland.

2. Share your story and inspire others!

Are you inspired to try motorsport? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your story by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired, visit us on Facebook or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.