Going Solo.

Back in 2009 and 2010 I had already had the itch to get into some competition after a few years of Trackdays. Someone famously said the easiest way to make small fortune from motor racing was to start with a large one. The only fortune I had was of the out of date cookie variety. Cheap was the name of the game and there is no cheaper entry into Motorsport than AutoSolos. What’s an AutoSolo I hear you cry? Well let me explain.

Golf, not the hitting balls with sticks kind.
Golf, not the hitting balls with sticks kind.

AutoSolos are very similar to AutoTests but the emphasis is on times, not memorising the layout. There’s no use of reverse gear or stopping in boxes either. The format is simple. A course is laid out with cones in a large area of tarmac. The competitors walk the course first of all and then you are given three timed runs in your car. Your best two times count. You then do course two, three and four in the same manner. If you get lost you get a penalty, likewise if you hit a cone. All your times are added up and that results in your total time for the day. It’s all first and second gear and the key is being quick but also accurate, hooning it round like Ken Block normally results in being bottom of your class.

Ah yes classes. To make it fair there’s numerous classes for standard road going cars and kit cars to enable a more level playing field for silverware. Generally there’s awards for each class plus an award for the FTD (Fastest of The Day). The price of this activity? £30 is about the gong rate. See, cheap!

It’s not hard on the car or your wallet as little petrol is used and the most wear is on the tyres. MX5’s are a popular car in which to compete in Solos and therefore there is always plenty of friendly banter in the paddock between the drivers. It’s also not unknown for a well piloted 5 to get FTD beating Caterhams and other such specialist performance cars.

781px-AutosoloCourses-AM-1&2.svg
Example course layouts.

Now as we have already established in previous posts in 2012 the Golf was in bits and the MX5 was my main mode of transport. I hadn’t done an AutoSolo in a while and I figured skidding the 5 around would be fun. I duly signed up on one and below are a couple of videos from that first foray into 5 soloing.

As you can see it’s a lot of fun. You an also hear a lot of rubbing. That event made it quite apparent the lowering springs I had fitted earlier in the year made the car look awesome but it was way too low. I can’t remember where I finished but it was somewhere near the bottom. What I can remember is thinking more and more that the MX5 was slower but more  fun than the Golf. These were thoughts that would continue to grow over the coming months.

Sadly there were no photos of me failing badly at the Solo so here’s a photo of my friend James in his.

springsolo2011JLlewellyn
Jimbo

If you want to try out doing an AutoSolo it’s very straight forward. Find your local Motor Club on Google and look up their events, they’re bound to run some. Once you’re a member of a club all you need is a road legal car with MOT, Tax and Insurance. If you’re in the Hants, Bucks, Surrey area than I cannot recommend enough becoming a member of Farnborough District Motor Club.

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