TCF Goes Racing: Part 1 – Getting started with ARDS


Nick Richardson – A friend of theCheckeredFlag.co.uk mentioned to our Editor that he would be getting in to motor racing, we thought this could make for interesting reading and give you an insight in to the whole process. So with that said, we hand over the floor to Nick…

As this is my first blog I thought I would take a moment to introduce myself and my journey to where I am today….

Nick-Richardson-2My interest in motorsport started as a youngster and I was a regular visitor to Oulton Park with both my Mum and my Dad. In my early teens that interest developed into a passion which gave me a hunger to know more and more about the sport, the drivers and the cars – from the enthralling sports saloon series, the ultra-technical single-seaters, the monstrous flame spitting GT cars and the epic and closely fought touring cars.

In my teens I decided I wanted to race, but with the technical and practical knowledge of a small child and not having the opportunity to rely on the family ‘silverware’ to fund my passion, I did the next best thing and established a successful career in motorsport, working in marketing and sponsorship for the likes of TOCA, Millers Oils, Just Marketing International and the British Rally Championship to name a few….

However despite now having the contacts and some money to go towards a budget, other priorities soon appeared and as the years passed I had still done little to achieve my goal – until last year when I found one of my old (10 years +) CV’s which said I hope to gain my National B Racing license in the next 12 months – a target I had failed miserably.

So that was that, that was the motivation to finally do this! So after some research and a quick call with the MSA, I added the Go Motorsport Starter Pack to my Christmas list, along with a few other items – race boots and gloves.

So Christmas came, and like an excited kid I read the book cover to cover and the earliest opportunity (Boxing Day morning before a trip to Old Trafford to watch United hammer Newcastle!) I watched the DVD and started to look into which circuit to do my ARDS test at.

The first thing I would say – is what a poor guide to motorsport the DVD is, the content is not only delivered in a really cheesy way – it completely lacks structure, is over complicated at parts and generally leaves you feeling confused and slightly daunted with a feeling of am I going to be able to do this!?

I chose to book my ARDS test with Anglesey circuit (North Wales) – and despite living a lot closer to Oulton Park, all of my research suggested that it would be better to go to one of the smaller, more boutique circuits, not that I am not particularly anti-MSV, but like any large organisation – you are going to be get a very set package, there are certain dates allocated to the test and it is likely you will be 1 of 5, 10 or 20 completing the test at the same time, whilst at Anglesey it is highly likely it will just be you, with an instructor in a more relaxed surrounding.

In the weeks up leading to the test, I booked my medical at my local doctor – and I would say that this is my first tip, don’t get fleeced like me! My doctor charged me a £100 for my medical and having since spoken to others who have paid as little as £20 – so give yourself time to look into this and shop around to get the best deal! Anyway the main thing is I passed with a clean bill of health! ​

So as the day approached I watched the DVD a few more times and brushed up on my flags, as my research told me I had to get 100% on my flags and some other questions, whilst the last part I could afford to get 2 wrong.

I arrived at the circuit and my instructor Malcolm Barfoot (a name I instantly recognised from watching Oulton Park Formula Fords as a kid), and I think it is fair to say what a difference your instructor will make to your test – Malcolm was instantly highly likeable and made me feel at ease – taking me through the day and answering any questions.

The day started off with Malcolm giving me 3 or 4 demonstration laps in a Ford Puma, talking me though the key basics such as the racing line, pointing out the apexs as well as some other helpful hints. After those laps we went back to the circuit office, where I watched the DVD again, and 30 minutes later, I was ready to complete my test.

The test was ‘relatively’ straightforward, if you have done your research, watched a few races in your time and have an element of common sense – safety first, etc – you should be fine… Though one frustrating thing is that despite a lot of guidance saying that by watching the DVD will enable you to pass your test, there were several questions which were not covered by the DVD – fortunately my knowledge and a few calculated guesses –which saw me only get one wrong answer which was fortunately in the last section – so I had passed, the next step was the track!

Next time, can I pass the practical assessment?

Join us next week for the second part in this series, in the mean time you can follow Nick on twitter at @nickrmarketing