AutoSOLOS are all about car control. The challenge is to negotiate as quickly as possible a memorised, low-speed course without hitting any markers.
You may be asking what is the difference between an AutoSOLO and an autotest? AutoSOLOs are test/courses that only go forwards, no reversing is involved. They only take place on sealed surface venues (i.e. tarmac) and the test must take place within a 200m x 200m area. You must also drive the car to the event, no trailers are allowed in AutoSOLOs.
How do AutoSOLOs work?
Drivers compete on tests/courses marked out by plastic pylons or cones. Most clubs number or letter the cones so whilst you'll receive a diagram to show you where to go, if you get stuck you can follow the letters/numbers around the course. A number of clubs also lie smaller "guiding" cones on the course to help show you which side of the lettered/numbered cone to go. Drivers tackle a number of tests, with two or three attempts at each and two or three times from each attempt to count (the specific event regulations will advise how results will be calculated). 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. On AutoSOLOs, competitors are normally split into three groups; one group drives, one group marshals and one group "rests" or gets ready to drive. Marshalling and rest sessions are a good time to watch and see how other competitors tackle the test.
So how do I start?
AutoSOLOs are incredibly accessible, with numerous events every weekend all over the country. A number of areas run regional championships. With club memberships from £10/year and entry fees from £20/event they are a very affordable way of getting involved.
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.
Next, join your local club. Some events run at Clubman level meaning all you need is club membership (the club must be invited to the event for your membership to be eligible, but you can always join the organising club) to compete. Some events, particularly at regional level, are run at National B level meaning you'll need a Non-Race National B Competition Licence as well as your club membership. Then, of course, you will need a car…
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.
Events will have class structures, normally split by engine capacity and sometimes with classes for historic cars. Tyre wear is likely to be experienced on an AutoSOLO 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 Blue Book (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.
AutoSOLOs tend to use simpler course layouts than autotests and cars must be driven to and from the event.
What equipment do I need?
Because AutoSOLOs 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.
Remember that it is the competitor's responsibility to ensure that their vehicle and equipment comply with both the Motorsport UK's General Regulations (detailed in the Motorsport UK Competitors' and Officials' Yearbook) and the Supplementary Regulations (SRs) of the event or championship.
If you have any questions about vehicles or equipment you can speak to a member of the Motorsport UK Technical Department by calling 01753 765 000.