TCF Goes Racing: Part 2 – Passing the ARDS Test


In the first part of Nick’s blog he introduced himself and took us through the start of his ARDS test, in this second part we pick things up with the practical side of things.

The second part of my ARDS test is where my decision to go to Anglesey Circuit proved to be a masterstroke due to the extra track time that you get, as some people I have spoken too have said (at the likes of MSV and Silverstone) lasts no more than 5 laps.

The practical session is all about you demonstrating all of the key components of racing (awareness, speed, control, consistency, accuracy, etc) and not leaves the track! And as I mentioned one of the joys of undertaking this test on your own at Anglesey is I managed to get more track time which provided me with the opportunity to further hone my skills, expand my experience and ultimately gave me the bug even more!

Unfortunately being 6ft 5, the beautiful Lotus which was sitting there with my name on, was quite simply not an option, despite trying every position from the Kama Sutra to fit in it was not to be! And instead I opted for the Ford Puma, which despite those epic Steve McQueen adverts didn’t really look like something the king of cool would drive! That said, the Puma turned out to be perfect as my ultimate plan has always been to race in a stock hatch, sports saloon series so getting to experience a car more akin to what I hope to race was actually a result!

So we ventured out on track, and again one of the joys of Anglesey (apart from the picturesque views, searing sound of the RAF Hawk jets from nearby RAF Valley) is the fact that I ended up with the track to myself. ​

We ventured out of the pits and round the first few corners until we joined the shorter track which was to be my proving ground!

Despite feeling nervous at first, especially as having witnessed Malcolm gracefully throw the car around the track with control and speed (why would anyone ever want to be a co-driver, it is at least 5 times quicker when sitting in the passenger seat!?!), I started off with Malcolm’s previous words of advice at the forefront of my mind, though I would imagine if you were in more “busy” surroundings this experience could be far different – as no matter how good a driver you think you are on the road, and how confident you are in your own abilities it is fair to say you will feel apprehensive and nervous at this stage.

In some ways there is not that much to say about the three laps which you need to complete, it is not about speed (but you still don’t hold back), it’s about driving consistently, staying on the racing line, hitting those apexs and been highly aware of what else is going on around you – from marshal flags to other circuit dwellers.

I managed to successfully complete the three laps, with every lap becoming tighter, quicker and more consistent.

After the three laps, Malcolm told me that I had passed the practical element of the test and if I wanted we could do some further laps to hone my skills and for him to give me some pointers – though he warned me if I was to go off the circuit I would still automatically fail.

I accepted his offer, and spent the next 20 minutes honing my skills, especially the ability to look ahead rather than the immediate challenge which lay ahead. This extra (bonus) session was incredible as I learnt so much more and left me a state of wanting to get my first race booked!

After finishing the session we headed back to the test centre and had a full debrief and completed the necessary paperwork with Malcolm confirmed I had passed with flying colours and in addition I had a lot of potential – which was a result!

I thanked Annette from the circuit for her hospitality and Malcolm for his expert advice, and drove home planning my next move…

On reflection and to conclude my first two blogs with hopefully some useful pointers:

  • Get a shopping list of safety gear you want and add it to birthday / Christmas lists to avoid one very expensive shopping trip!
  • Don’t just rely on the (awful) DVD for the answers for your ARDS test
  • Shop around for your medical
  • Choose a circuit which is more boutique that mainstream
  • Do your revision
  • Don’t let any nerves unsettle you
  • Try and build a relationship up with your instructor and don’t be afraid to ask questions

Next time, what next?

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