February 12, 2020
Guest Blog: On Track For the Academy with Rob Oldland #1
As I sit down to write this, in two weeks’ time I will be taking my ARDS racing licence ahead of a season of Caterham Academy racing. How did that happen?
In 2019 I purchased my third Caterham - a 620S. Previously I had owned a Roadsport 1.4K and a 420R. While the 620S was fantastic, I found myself asking myself whether I was actually having any more fun than I used to behind the wheel of the Roadsport. The answer I kept coming back to was that however fantastic the car was to drive, there was no way I was having £35k worth of extra fun! That brought the idea of downgrading into my head, which then sparked the thought, “How about the Caterham Academy?”
For £27k, I could get myself a Sigma-based car with similar spec to my Roadsport (except for the creature comforts of course), a race licence and race entries, surely this was a good idea, wasn’t it? While at the Children’s Trust Supercar Day at Goodwood, I was having a chat with Ralph who was manning the Caterham Cars display stand. I’ve known Ralph for years and he knows me and the journey I have had with Caterhams. I happened to mention to him that “Once I’m done with my 620S, I think I’ll take a look at the Academy”. We had a brief chat as Ralph had himself participated in both the Academy and the Roadsport race series, and that was that.
A few days later, I received an email from Ralph inviting me to Snetterton for a Caterham Motorsport hospitality day. It would give me the opportunity to meet some of this year’s Academy drivers, find out more about the series via a short presentation, spend some time in the paddock and generally watch the racing. It proved to be a fantastic day; I had asked my friend Garry Hooton along – he’s a fellow Caterham owner and Club member and it meant we had two pairs of eyes and ears as there were many questions I felt that I needed answering before I’d be willing to commit. The day was extremely well organised; when we arrived we were greeted and invited into the Caterham Motorsport hospitality marquee where free hot and cold drinks and snacks were available throughout the day and lunch was provided too. Then Sir Chris Hoy noticed our two new faces and made his way straight over to us for a chat – “what a fabulous ambassador for Caterham Motorsport he is” was the impression left on us both. After meeting the drivers, talking to other potential participants, talking to the very knowledgeable Caterham Motorsport team and following the race from the assembly area to parc fermé I decided that it was definitely something I wanted to do. The only decision I was left with was would it be the 2020 season or 2021?
If I was to be able to fulfil my dream of being a racing driver, I had to work out if I could do it on a very limited budget. To be honest, just owning a Caterham is an extravagance for me and sacrifices have to be made, so how could I afford the additional cost of motor sport? Can you really buy a car with zero previous experience and enjoy a season’s racing as Caterham intend? This is the journey I’m on and that I would like to share, firstly to see if it is indeed possible and secondly if it is possible, maybe to encourage others to get involved.
Next month, I will share more details about the additional costs to consider and what I have done to absorb these. I will also update with the ARDS day at Castle Combe and my first trackday at Brands Hatch.
Rob is a keen Caterham enthusiast. It took him 25 years of dreaming before he was actually able to own his first Caterham and now he's on Caterham number 4! Working his way up through the range from Roadsport, 420R and 620S, Rob has now embarked on the exciting journey of the Caterham Academy as an introduction to motorsport. Rob will be writing monthly blog posts following his progress in his first year racing Caterhams.
This article originally appeared in Lowflying, the Lotus Seven Club magazine for Caterham and Lotus Seven enthusiasts – you can find out more here -www.lotus7.club.