Autotests are all about car control. The challenge is to negotiate as quickly as possible a memorised, low-speed course without hitting any markers.
How do Autotests work?
Drivers compete on courses – usually on tarmac or grass areas such as car parks or smooth fields – marked out by plastic pylons or cones. They tackle a number of tests, with three attempts at each. The driver with the lowest accumulated time is the winner, although penalties are incurred for hitting cones, failing to stop on a line, or for taking the wrong route.
So how do I start?
You’ll need to be at least 16 years old to compete. First, go to some events and chat with some of the competitors and organisers, who will be happy to talk you through everything you need to know and answer any questions you may have.
What kind of car do I need?
Most people start off in their road cars; small hatchbacks have proved popular and competitive in recent years as well as MX5s.
Tyre wear is likely to be experienced on an autotest (particularly a tarmac event) and therefore it is highly recommended to take a spare set of wheels and tyres with you to ensure you can drive home legally afterwards. Tyres must comply with the relevant rules in the Motorsport UK Yearbook (the rule book for all disciplines of motorsport). Some people will buy new tyres for events, but others will talk to their local garage/tyre dealership or even negotiate with the local scrapyard to keep costs down.
What equipment do I need?
Because Autotests are low-speed events you don't need special safety gear such as helmets or overalls, which makes this one of the most readily accessible motor sport disciplines. Whilst they may be low speed, they are still highly competitive and leave thousands of competitors all over the country smiling.