Mention the words modern motorsport and most people will instantly think of the procession that is F1 or maybe Touring cars. But these formulae represent the pinnacle of the sport, requiring millions of pounds to pay for the gloss, the razzamatazz and the lycra clad ladies that are all reqired to bring in the multi million pound sponsorship necessary for doing battle around the racetracks of the country and world.The journey to the top in the world of motor racing is a long one, for both team and driver, and every journey must start somewhere. Alfa Romeo enthusiasts and budding race drivers are fortunate that there are 2 high profile race championships which they are eligible to compete in. The AROC championship and the Le Mans Auto Italia championship, for the novice race driver both of these formulae offer close competitive racing encompassed within a relaxed but professional atmosphere. These two championships run hand in hand throughout the year with races taking place over the same weekends. For the Italian car enthusiast this offers a unrivaled oppotunity to get close to genuine thoughrobread race machinery.
The Auto Italia championship is open to any and all Italian cars or cars of Italian decent, this means that along side the overwhelming majority of Alfa Romeos ,including ex-Italian touring car championship cars, the statrting grid, can contain anything ranging from Ferraris, Maserati's , Lancias to Hawk Stratos replicas and Fiat Pandas. This variety of cars lining up at the start of a race will always make for exciting racing, but this excitement is heightened further by running a reverse grid. The faster cars to the rear and the slower cars at the front of the grid. The incentive for the slower cars to stay infront is increased by awarding points for the car in the overall lead at the end of the first lap.
Racing a Ferrari against an Sud is never going to be much fun for the Sud driver and as such the Auto Italia championship is broken down into several classes of competition. Points are awarded for class positions at the end of the race,ensuring spirited battles within class are very much the norm, and wins are always hard fought out battles.
|Class A||Modified over 1800cc|
|Class B||Modified up to 1800cc|
|Class C||Production over 2000cc|
|Class D||Production 1501cc to 2000cc|
|Class E||Production up to 1500cc|
The breakdown of the classes means that pretty much anycar and anydriver can be up there at the end of the season fighting it out for overall championship honours.
The worlds is a deangerous place, you just need to take a look
at the national statistics for people who are injured and killed
puting their socks on in the morning to see that. And sitting
in a metal box on wheels hurtling around a tarmac loop with 20
or so likeminded people should rate as one of the more dangerous
passtimes on this planet, however thanks to the series regulations
racing an Alfa Romeo is one of the safer passtimes you can indulge
in. The differences between production and modified classes are
vast, but some changes need to be made to all cars regardless
of engine size and modifications.
Roll cages, full harnesses, fire extinguishers and kill switches are among the many safety features that need to be added to a car before it is eligeble to compete in the race series, and the reson why can be seen below.
This photo taken at Mallory park shows the remans of an Alfa 75 after it fell off the track just after the esses and impaacted the safety barrier at high speed. The accident unfortunately ended the days raceing as the force of the impact snapped a safety barrier support, a piece of wood of roughly similar size to a railway sleeper!
More details about the minimum safety requirements and allowed modifications can be found at the LeMansmotorsport site www.lemansmotorsport.co.uk
There really is no excuse for not getting out to see an Auto Italia race, racing takes place throughout England Scotland and Wales and for the first time this year a race weekend is being held over the channel in France. Entry to the race meetings is very resonable , ranging from about £7 per person at some of the more provincial circuits, to £10 per person at circuits such as Brands Hatch and Donnington. This not only gets you access to the circuit, but also to the pit area where you get to see first hand the preparation of the cars for the race, and often the dents and scrapes (sometimes wreckage) picked up during hard fought laps for well earned places and points in a close and competitive race series.
|Round 1||April 7th||Snetterton|
|Round 2||April 21st||Brands Hatch|
|Round 3||May 5th||Mallory Park|
|Round 4/5||May 17th/19th||Croix-en-Ternois (Double Header)|
|Round 6||June 3rd||Castle Combe|
|Round 7/8||June 15th/16th||Lydden Hill (Double Header)|
|Round 9||June 30th||Mallory Park|
|Round 10||July 13th||Oulton Park|
|Round 11||August 11th||Cadwell Park|
|Round 12||September 1st||Donnington Park|
|Round 13||September 14th/15th||Siverstone|
|Round 14||October 6th||Snetterton|
So you've braved the rain (it is England after all) watched qualifying , witnessed the dents, scapes and crashes during racing, regretted that last burger that disn't quite taste right, but you still want more? How do you get out from behind the fence and get into the driving seat?