The ARDs test
When your racing experience is limited to Project Gotham Racing in the mid 2000's and 10-12 sprint laps around Goodwood motor circuit in a virtually untested, Turbocharged 998 Mini Mayfair.
The obvious next step is to enter into an exhibition race involving some of the fastest Minis in the UK, isn't it?
For years, friends and family have pestered, jeered and joked about having this " track car" that's never been on track.
"If your not going to race this "racecar" then you might as well get rid of it"
"Are you ever going to book a track day?"
After months of peer pressure from Mr Skidmore, constantly telling me how easy it was to get the car legal to race etc etc,the decision was made to put our entry in! however, apparently you need a race license for these kind of things?! Who Knew!!!
March 2023, 4 months before race day, I arrive at a typically overcast brands hatch in prep for the ARDs test. Something which despite being the entry way for every single driver to step into competitive motorsport, is rarely spoken about or discussed by those who have undertaken it. This however, is less than helpful for those, like myself, who prefer to know everything about a test before they get there!
The ARDs test itself is made up of 2 sections, a written exam and a practical driving assessment which follows.
The written exam follows a lovely 20 minute video (the same as in your MSUK starter pack) which goes over all aspects of safe racing including the flag signals etc which will come up in the exam. the test itself is also in two parts, Flag knowledge and basic common sense related questions. Your knowledge of the flags needs to be 100% to pass this exam so do your homework! however you can rest easy in that you only need to identify the flag colour/pattern and wave based upon a description, not the other way around. next comes a series of multiple choice questions, which ill be honest, if you get any wrong, you shouldn't be allowed on track anyway!
After passing the written exam I was thrown into the passenger seat of a BMW M4 competition with one of brands hatch's instructors for some tuition based laps. 4-5 laps go by of being talked through braking, entry and exit points, overtaking etiquette and basic car control. I was then dropped back into the pit lane and told to swap over! after a few minutes to make myself comfortable, we were off, out of the pitlane and straight into the famous paddock hill corner entry.... for the first time, in a car I'd never driven before, knowing that my every move is being watched..... yeah, I was pretty nervous! another 4-5 laps go by with the instructor giving me direction and tuition and pointers before he politely says
"I'm going to go silent for a few laps now, just drive as you are"
The exact phrase your told to listen out for, meaning I'm now being marked for the test, Brilliant! 3 laps of the upmost concentration, trying to hit every braking point, every turn in point, every apex, constantly watching for faster cars in the rear view mirror, I was told that we were all finished and to head back into the pits.
Now, the pit lane feels slow after being on track at speed, but oh my, combine it with the nervous wait to find out if you have passed or failed.... the pitlane feels like its 5 miles long. Once I'd parked back up and settled myself for a few seconds the instructor went quiet before delivering the results!
Pretty sure the instructors wait as long as possible to tell you, for their own enjoyment! but none the less the hard part was done and I could now move onto getting the car ready... more to follow on that one shortly!