This series of blogs looks at the cost of going motor racing. Motorsport is an expensive hobby, but the exact costs are sometimes hard to come by. I hope to be able to help drivers who are new to racing understand exactly what they’re letting themselves in for, by providing a detailed breakdown of costs.

This first instalment looks at what you can expect to spend just to get yourself qualified to race.

Before you go racing, you’ll need to pass your racing drivers’ test, commonly known as the ARDS test. You can get your application form from Motorsport UK as part of the ‘Go Racing’ pack, which can be bought from their website for £107.

It is stipulated, as part of your application, that you will need a medical examination by your doctor. Most GPs will charge for this and it will cost anywhere between £50 and £100. Bear in mind that once you get this done, it is valid for 3 months, so you will need to complete your ARDS test before this deadline expires otherwise you will need to pay for another medical.

The ARDS test itself can be taken at a number of circuits around the UK. You will generally get the same experience at whatever circuit you book, but be aware that some are more expensive than others. It will come down to personal preference, proximity to where you live and how well you know your chosen track. On average, you can expect to pay around £250.

To put it bluntly, it’s an expensive test to fail! Investing a little more in giving yourself the best chance of success is well worth it, particularly if you’re a racing novice. If you’ve got plenty of experience driving on race tracks, for example if you’ve got a dozen or so track days under your belt, you might be alright simply turning up and taking the practical test, provided you know the track well. For anyone else, I’d highly recommend booking your ARDS test for the afternoon and a 1-hour or 2-hour tuition session in the morning. Not only will you get to drive the car you’ll be taking your ARDS test in around the circuit, you’ll have a qualified instructor alongside you giving you advice that will surely help you.

The cost of these sessions varies from track to track, but I’d budget £200 for it. It might sound like a lot for an hour or two behind the wheel, but having gone down this route myself I can safely say I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

So, before you’ve even sat in a race car for the first time, you can expect to have paid the following:

Motorsport UK ‘Go Racing’ pack: £107

Mandatory medical examination: Avg. £75

ARDS Test: Avg. £250

Pre-ARDS Tuition (Optional, but recommended): Avg. £200

TOTAL COST: Approx. £430 – £650, depending on tuition

With such a significant outlay just to obtain your race license, you must be absolutely certain it’s something you want to do. If you decide to take the plunge, good luck! If you’re successful, at some point you’re going to want to get all your race gear. The next episode in this series will look in detail at the cost of kitting yourself out.

Next article in this series – Part 2 – Gearing Up