What is Autograss?

AUTOGRASS is Britain’s most popular form of amateur motor racing. The sport takes place at around 50 venues throughout England, Wales and Northern and Southern Ireland.

 

AUTOGRASS is car racing, usually on quarter-mile dirt oval tracks. Although highly spectacular to watch, it is first and foremost a participant sport. Meetings are promoted by non-profit making clubs, which are affiliated to the governing body, the National Autograss Sports Association (NASA). The tracks are laid out on natural surfaces (usually a farmer’s field) - a fresh track will start off as grass, but that won’t last long! The track will be constructed by club members the day before the event, and the racers are also expected to help out with the organisation on the day.

 

This is a true family sport – anyone can take part. Junior drivers may start racing at 12 years old, moving into the adult classes at 16, and some drivers are racing competitively well into their 60s and 70s. Ladies’ races are held at every meeting and the sharing of cars between family members is encouraged.

 

AUTOGRASS is the affordable motor sport. You can race in the most basic classes (such as Class 1, for standard 1000cc saloons with only safety modifications) for an initial outlay of under £500 and minimal running costs. There are ten classes of car ranging from production saloons, through progressively wilder Modified machinery to the super-fast single-seat Specials. Even in the top classes, however, budgets will be significantly less than those required to be competitive in Circuit Racing, Oval Racing, Rallying or Rallycross. 

The Autograss Classes

Class 1

Standard Production 1000cc Saloons

This class was for many years restricted to Minis, but now the Citroen AX and Saxo, Peugeot 106 and Fiat Cinquecento are also eligible. For 2012 the Cinquecento will be discontinued and the "bubble shape" Nissan Micra will be added to the class. No modifications are allowed apart from those required by NASA safety regulations. It's a very well supported and competitive class; the standard cars are surprisingly quick and it must represent the very cheapest way of going motor racing. Another reason for the popularity of Class 1 is that this is the only class of saloon car allowed to be used by Junior (12 - 16 year old) drivers.

Budget guideline £500 - £2,000

Class 2

Restricted Saloons up to 1300cc

The second of the entry level classes. Limited engine and suspension modifications are allowed, but equality is ensured by stipulating that all engines must breathe through a 32mm intake restrictor. Front wheel drive Novas, Micras Fiats and Fiestas, Rear-wheel-drive Escorts and Starlets and rear-engined Imps, Suzukis and Skodas are all evenly matched.

Budget guideline £750 - £2,500

Class 3

Front-engine rear-wheel-drive Saloons over 1420cc.

Often thought of as the "Hot Rod" Class. Plenty of sideways action is guaranteed with any multi-valve production engine up to 2070cc, or an unlimited capacity engine subject to a maximum of two valves per cylinder, allowed in any bodyshell. Front-wheel drive cars may be converted to rear-wheel-drive, but the most popular choice is a Ford or Vauxhall powered Toyota Starlet. Classic shapes such as the Ford Anglia and Morris Minor are crowd pleasers and some low-budget cars are built with V6 or V8 power units.

Budget guideline £1,000 - £20,000

Class 4

Modified Saloons up to 1130cc.

This is the smallest and most affordable of the "fully modified" classes with the only restrictions being that the engine must be of a type originally sold in that make of car and must be fitted in the original position. Minis and Imps have tended to dominate in the past(many of the Minis being based on lightweight Pickup bodyshells), but now more power can be obtained from Peugeot/citroen and Nissan Micra based cars, although the Mini remains the most popular choice..

Budget guideline £1,000 - £10,000

Class 5

Modified Saloons 1131 - 1420cc.

Unlike Class 4, this class allows any engine to be used, anywhere in the bodyshell. Although front-wheel-drive Minis used to dominate and are still popular, the recipe for success is now a spaceframed mid-engined Special, usually Ford or Vauxhall-powered, clothed in a Mini or small hatchback bodyshell. Fuel injection is allowed, but multi-valve engines and motorbike engines are not.

Budget guideline £2,000 - £15,000 

Class 6

Modified FWD Saloons over 1420cc.

One of the most hotly contested classes – anything goes as long as it's front-wheel-drive. Favourites are 2-litre 16 valve-powered Vauxhall Novas or Corsas, but Peugeots, Micras, Fiestas, Metros, Golfs and even Minis with a variety of power units are equally effective and you can be competitive with a relatively standard car.

Budget guideline £1,000 - £10,000

 

Stock Hatch

This is a budget class run only at club level - Stock Hatch is not represented at the National Championships, or in the British Autograss Series, although Stock Hatch drivers have their own National Championships, hosted by Pennine Autograss Club each June. Originally introduced by the Yorkshire Dales club in 2000, Stock Hatch is now popular in Scotland, the North of England, the East Midlands and Essex, and was introduced into East Anglia in 2010. A standard hatchback shell may be fitted with any standard 8 valve engine up to 1600scc from the same manufacturer. Suplementary regulatons are available on the Stock Hatch website but all cars must also comply with the NASA rule book for Class 5 or 6 as appropriate.

Budget guideline £500 - £2,000

Class 7

Modified rear-wheel-drive Saloons over 1420cc.

Probably the greatest crowd-pleaser at National level, and rapidly gaining popularity in East Anglia, these are the ultimate "Supersaloons". The idea is to cram the biggest, most powerful engine you can find into the smallest, lightest bodyshell and drive it foot flat to the floor! You'll see Fiestas, Escorts, Metros and Mini Pickups like you've never seen before, with V8 or V6 engines, often supercharged or turbocharged, or twin motorbike engines, sitting where the rear seat should be.

Budget guideline £5,000 - £20,000 +

Class 8

Specials up to 1420cc.

The smallest Specials class provides close and fast racing with the majority of cars powered by high-revving and widely available motorbike engines, although some car engines are in use. Chassis are readily available from a number of specialist Autograss constructors, although some drivers still build their own chassis. A low cost club level variant, Formula 600, using standard 600cc bike engines, is growing in popularity..

Budget guideline £5,000 - £20,000

Class 9

Specials 1421 - 2065cc.

The motorbike engines that now dominate the other Specials classes are excluded from Class 9, which at club level features cars powered by a variety of easily affordable multi-valve engines from Vauxhall, Citroen, Peugeot, Honda, Toyota, Ford and other manufacturers, giving plenty of usable power in near standard form, mounted transversely or in line. A highly tuned Honda, Vauxhall, Cosworth, Lexus or Millington Diamond engine is usually necessary for success at National level. As with the other specials classes, purpose built chassis from constructors such as ARD, Berrisford, DRD, Rade and WL Racefab tend to dominate, but it's still possible to succeed in a home built car.

Budget guideline £2,000 - £20,000 +

Class 10

Specials over 2065cc, & Twin Engines.

These are the ultimate machines in which to go Autograss Racing, with no limits on engine capacity or tuning, once again in lightweight mid-engined single-seaters. V6 and V8 engines once dominated and the popularity and reliability of the Ford V6 and Rover or Chevy V8 engines means that it's still possible to race in this exciting class on a limited budget at club level, although the professionally built twin bike-engined cars now rule the roost at the bigger meetings. The use of twin engines enables less highly tuned bike engines to be used than are often found in Class 8, while V6 or V8 car engines, together with smaller capacity turbo and supercharged engines are regaining popularity at National level.

Budget guideline £5,000 - £20,000 +

Ladies

Class 11: Ladies’ Production Saloons.

Class 1 and Class 2 cars race together, with a handicapped start. Ladies’ races feature at all Autograss meetings and every effort is made to give them as much racing as the men. Some have their own cars, but many share the driving, making this a real family sport – a Class 1 Mini may race in Men’s, Ladies’ and Juniors’ classes on the same day.

 

Class 12: Ladies’ Modified Saloons.

Class 4, 5, 6 and Stock Hatch cars race together, with a handicapped start.

 

Class 13: Ladies’ Modified Saloons.

Class 3 and 7 cars race together, with a handicapped start.

 

Class 14: Ladies’ Specials.

Class 8, 9 and 10 cars race together, with a handicapped start

Juniors

Drivers aged 12 – 16 years .

Juniors are only allowed to race the Unmodified Class 1 saloons or the restricted Junior Special cars (see below). All drivers must pass a test of competence and safety before being permitted to race.

Budget guideline £500 - £2,000 

Junior Specials

Drivers aged 12 – 16 years .

Autograss’ newest class, introduced in 2005, allows Juniors aged 12 - 16 to race open-wheel Autograss machinery, presenting an exciting and affordable alternative to Kart racing. All cars are powered by standard 44 bhp 1200cc Vauxhall Corsa engines with standard gearboxes and many standard suspension components. Chassis are available from specialist constructors Z-Cars, GB Engineering and ARD, but you may build your own or adapt an existing chassis. Adult racers may also drive these cars, at single-day club events only.

Budget guideline £2,500 - £5,000

Full NASA rule books are published annually - at present these are only available in book form, not as downloads (The east Anglian League is pushing the governing body to update the rule books and make them available electrinically). The latest books are for all the above classes are available from the club secretaries; there are six books (Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Classes 4/5/6/7, Classes 8/9/10 and Junior Special) priced at £2.50 each.

The St Neots club's "Cannon" logo originates from the club's long-time meeting place, The Cannon pub in St Neots town centre - now long since refurbished and re-opened under a new name. The club now meets at the RAF Club in Huntingdon Street, St Neots, but the Cannon lives on as the club's distinctive badge.

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