Useful links and resources…

There are some great resources out online – and the source for much of the information that has been collated here.

First step for any Academy entrant (or any other entrant to the Caterham Motorsport ladder is the main motorsport website and also the community forum.

Main Caterham Motorsport Website:

Main Caterham Motorsport Forum:

There are also some great blogs that have been put together by prior competitors to the Academy which document their builds and their seasons progress.

Often these same competitors are also active on the community forum, so they are a great resource to find out the information you really need when considering taking part.

They know what it took to build and compete in their respecitve seasons!

Academy Competitor Blogs

  • Mike Hart Racing – Documents build and competition through 2010 Caterham Academy
  • Racing Fox Blog – Document build of 2010 Caterham Academy car and competition through a championship winning season, and then on into another winning championship in Caterham Roadsport B.
  • Tim Abbott Racing – 2010 season blog
  • Joel Wymer Blog – Racing13 2010 build and competition blog. Also Roadsport B during 2011.
  • Torminator – Build blog and build up to the 2012 season

Racing gear

Next up to haunt the balance sheet is racing gear. It’s an area that you really don’t want to be scrimping on either. However, there’s also no reason to go completely overboard either.

Safety equipment all has to confirm to standards and you should look at those standards rather than the price tag as an indication of being suitable for purpose.

I intend to visit Grand Prix Racewear ( based at Silverstone once the car is built to make sure I get to try on everything. Up until then, here are the rough budgets for equipment:

  • Race suit: £400
  • Fireproof vest, long-johns, socks, balaclava: £140
  • Helmet: £500
  • HANS: £425
  • Boots: £120
  • Gloves: £50
  • Gumshield: £30

Another £1305 to add to our total. You could go way more here, especially if you’re brand concious. You could also go less if completely frugal and willing to be a brand mongrel.

The remaining costs that I haven’t yet covered are running costs (petrol, accommodation, brake pads incidentals), insurance, accident damage, track testing, tuition and a few optional extras, like a lap timer and on-board cameras. I think at this stage, I’ll leave them. Firstly to give myself a break from the reality of how expensive motorsport is but also as I don’t have figures to put against some of those items.

For the record, we’re now at a running total of somewhere between £25.5k to £32k.


Hidden costs

Again, at the moment, this information is all gleaned from the web and asking questions. I hope to update it with reality, once I’ve been through it! My pain will be others gain.

So, we’ve established that you’re looking at a bill between £22k and £24k for the car and it’s options. However, it doesn’t stop there. You need tooling to bolt the thing together, somewhere to build it, somewhere to store it, fluids to get the thing ready to start and then, the reality is, that you likely need a trailer and paraphernalia to get it to race meetings and to keep it running while you’re there.

Let’s start with a trailer. Now, it is possible to drive your car to the race meet; race; and then drive back home. Which sounds great and if you’re local to a track, is viable as I understand it. However, with races as dispersed as Liverpool, Castle Combe and Brands Hatch, you can see that the distances mean you’ll likely not want to do this unless absolutely necessary. A lot of people, therefore, opt to trailer their car up to events.

Looking around, it appears that Brian James Trailers (specifically the Minno Max at £1,779+VAT new £900 – £1200 second hand) and PRG Trailers (Specifically the MiniSporter (£4,350+VAT new around £3,300 – £3,800 second hand) are popular choices. Both can, apparently, fit inside a standard garage. If you only have a driveway, then a good second hand covered trailer is perhaps the best backup. Hiring a garage varies by you’re location, but looks to be around £14 – £20 per week (£700 – £1000 per year).

Tooling and fluids sound insignificant – but from one blog I read from back in 2004, you can attract fairly high costs here as well. They documented nearly £650, although if you have a decent tool set already, this would be reduced a lot. Looking through the list, there are around £220 of kit that you’re unlikely to have unless you already tinker/work on cars. However, if you have no tooling already, then £650 isn’t far off the mark from the looks of it.

Although Caterham claim that a single set of tyres will last the season, and this is backed up by comment, this doesn’t account for additional road based and track based driving that you will want to do between events and ahead of the season. The consensus appears to be to have one set that you use specifically for the Academy racing and another set that go on at other times. This keeps the Academy tyres in good enough shape should it rain at any event (so you’ve got some tread left) and are also road legal at the end of the event (part of regulations I believe). The tyres themselves (Avon CR322) are not expensive, at £51 per corner. A spare set of wheels to put the tyres on are roughly £120 a corner new. (You need to make sure you buy the correct wheel/tyre as the regulations for the Academy are tightly controlled.

So, where does that leave us?

If you’ve got most of the tools already and don’t require a trailer, then £330 is should see you get the car filled with fluids and a spare set of tyres.

If you need a trailer, want a spare set of wheels/tyres to be able to swap and don’t have the full set of tools required, then you’re could easily be looking at an additional cost of between £2100 and £5000.

We’re still not done with money yet unfortunately. Next up is racing gear – helmets/suits and the like. We’ll save that for the next post.


Confirmation letter

I received my confirmation letter through the post yesterday. Includes my receipt and invoice for the deposit and also a covering letter explaining my expected build slot of September 2012 and also the schedule of payments to be taken.

Essentially, the second deposit of £6000 is due 12 weeks ahead of the build slot, so June/July time for me. The final balance gets taken just ahead of delivery and obviously varies based on the options you take up.

The sooner you enter, the earlier you get your car. To date, I know that there are at least 17 people entered into the Academy (so that’s half the first grid filled even before this years Academy takes to the track!)

Options, options everywhere

The Academy package is fairly well defined in the car you are getting and the specification of the major components. At the time of writing, you are signing up to buy a Caterham Roadsport with:

  • Caterham Academy Car1.6l Ford Sigma Engine running at 125bhp
  • 5 speed gearbox
  • 13″ Avon CR322 Academy Tyres
  • Lowered floors
  • Composite Race seats and harnesses
  • Race safety (full roll cage, plumbed in fire extinguisher and battery master switch)
In addition to the car, your money goes towards the ‘Academy Race Package’. This consists of:
  • ARDS Race Licence test and medical
  • Technical seminar
  • Setup day
  • Circuit test day
  • Car control clinic
  • Entry/Registation to 7 race rounds (3xSprint, 4xCircuit)
  • Timing transponder
  • Circuit guides
  • Head/Arm restraints

This spec doesn’t really change from year to year. The price just goes up – normally by £1000 or so! At the time of writing, the base spec costs £20,495 inc (self-build) or £23,495 inc (factory build).

In addition to the base spec, my trawl around the net and speaking to the sales representative, the additional options that are considered important for the Academy are:

  • Push button start (if you stall on track, you don’t want to be desperately finding the key to turn.) (£55 inc)
  • Momo, quick release steering wheel (£300 inc)

The sales guy also said he recommends the weather pack, which includes doors, hood and heated windscreen (£510 inc).

From what I’ve read around blogs to date, some people opt to just run side doors for aero efficiency. Also, a lot of the cars on the grid go for the plain aluminium body with coloured composites (nose cone and wheel arches). This means that if you want to stand out a little more on track, it’s a good idea to take up the pained body option. There are differing paint options from basic paint schemes (£1,150 inc) to Delux paint schemes (£1,950 inc). You can have a bonet stripe and nosecone band added if you want (£275 inc) or just a noseband (£105 inc).

I have read that the paint adds roughly 4lbs of weight to the car. As the Academy runs a minimum car weight, this isn’t likely to be an issue unless a) you’re over 90kgs and b) are really that good you can notice an additional 4lbs when circulating the track!

One thing to bear in mind is that race support only carry spares in black. Therefore, if you lose a wheel arch out on track, you’ll be left with an odd corner on your car if you’re not already running black composites!

There are viable car wrapping options available now – which help eliminate the stone chip problem. I haven’t looked into the cost of this for a Caterham.

I understand that the Tonneau cover is useful when the weather gets bad. (£180 inc).

Two additional costs to bear in mind.

Delivery is based on your location in relation to the Caterham Factory. I don’t have a full breakdown, but I believe the minimum cost is in the region of £100 and my delivery radius of about 40mins south of the M25 was £240.

IVA inspection, road tax, registration fees and number plates also have to be covered. If you have a factory built car, you can opt for a £535 option to include all these. Self-builders are likely to see a bill in the region of £800 to get all these boxes ticked.

So, in conclusion, the reality of the Academy is:

  • An absolute minimum of £21,395 inc (self build) and £24,130 inc (factory build).
  • A more likely cost of £21,950 inc (self) and £24,635 inc (factory)
  • If you go for basic paint scheme and the options most seem to opt for £23,790 inc (self) £26,475 inc (factory)

Next post will go on to look at additional equipment costs! We’re not quite done with money yet!