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 Minis 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. 

For more details of how to get involved in Autograss Racing and to contact your nearest club, click here to visit the National Autograss Sport Association’s website.

 
 

Production Saloons up to 1000cc

This class was restricted to Minis until the end of 2005 – from 2006 onwards the Citroen AX and Fiat Cinquecento have been added to the list of eligible cars and for 2009 the Peugeot 106 is also eligible. 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

 

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. Fuel-injected engines must be converted to use carburetors. Now dominated by the Vauxhall Nova and Nissan Micra; other front-wheel-drive cars such as Polos, Fiats and Fiestas, rear-wheel-drive Escorts and Starlets and rear-engined Imps, Suzukis and Skodas can all be competitive.

Budget guideline £750 - £2,500

 

Front-engine RWD Saloons over 1420cc

Often thought of as the "Hot Rod" Class. Plenty of sideways action is guaranteed with any multi-valve production-based 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 (such as Peugeot 205 or Ford Fiesta) may be converted to rear-wheel-drive, but the most popular choice is a Ford or Vauxhall powered Toyota Starlet. Traditional Ford Escorts are still widely used and some low-budget cars are built with V6 or V8 power units.

Budget guideline £1,000 - £20,000

 

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 tend to dominate (many of the Minis being based on lightweight Pickup bodyshells), although the Citroen AX, Nissan Micra, 106/Saxo, Fiats, Fiestas, Metros, Suzukis, etc are also competitive.

Budget guideline £1,000 - £10,000

 

Modified Saloons 1131 - 1420cc

Unlike Class 4, this class allows any engine to be used, fitted anywhere in the bodyshell. Although front-wheel-drive Minis used to dominate, and together with other front-wheel-drive cars are still popular and successful at club level, the recipe for success is now a mid-engined Special, usually Vauxhall, Peugeot or Ford-powered, clothed in a small saloon or hatchback bodyshell, with Mini shells being the current favourite. Fuel injection is allowed, but multi-valve engines, and motorbike engines, are not.

Budget guideline £2,000 - £15,000

 

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 at club level with a relatively standard car. Motorbike engines are now prohibited in this class. A growing number of clubs also run a restricted “Stock Hatch” class (at club level only).

Budget guideline £1,000 - £10,000

 

Modified RWD Saloons over 1420cc

Probably the greatest crowd-pleaser at National level, 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 Fiats, Fiestas, Metros, Peugeots, and even Minis like you've never seen before, most nowadays with two motorbike engines, although there's increasing use of a single large capacity bike-based engine and there are still many with V8 or V6 engines, often supercharged or turbocharged, sitting where the rear seat should be.

Budget guideline £4,000 - £20,000 +

 

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.  Many of the bike engines are tuned to the ultimate, but standard engines are usually competitive at club level. Chassis are readily available from a number of specialist Autograss constructors although a number of drivers still build their own chassis. A club-level variant, Formula 600, using 600cc bike engines, is growing in popularity.

Budget guideline £3,000 - £15,000

 

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 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 Berrisford, Harvey, Z-Cars and Llewellyn tend to dominate, but it’s still possible to succeed in a home-built car.

Budget guideline £2,000 - £20,000 +

 

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 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.

Budget guideline £5,000 - £20,000 +

 

Class 11: Ladies’ Production Saloons

Class 12: Ladies’ Modified Saloons

Class 13: Ladies’ Modified Saloons

Class 14: Ladies’ Specials

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 car may race in Men’s, Ladies’ and Juniors’ classes on the same day.

 

 

Drivers aged 12 – 16 years

Juniors wishing to race a Saloon car are only allowed to use standard Class 1 cars (and often share cars with other family members running in Class 1 and Ladies’ Class 11). All drivers must pass a test of competence and safety before being permitted to race.  Juniors have their own National Championship event, and former Junior Autograss racers have gone on to excel in many other forms of motorsport – including former British Rally Champion John Perrott, British Touring Car racer Colin Turkington, Seat Cup Champion Tom Boardman, former Mini 7 Champion Matthew Hayman, and current Mini 7 front-runner Max Hunter.

Budget guideline £500 - £2,000

 

Drivers aged 12 – 16 years

The Junior Special class was launched in 2005 and a total of 13 cars contested the first season, increasing to 65 by the end of 2007, and the class continued to grow rapidly in 2008. Chassis are available from all the specialist Autograss constructors, but in the Autograss tradition, self-build chassis are encouraged and some older chassis have been adapted for use in this class.  The engine, gearbox, drivetrain and some suspension components, taken from a 1200cc Vauxhall Corsa, must be used in standard form. Adults are permitted to drive the Junior Specials at single-day events only.

Budget guideline £2,000 - £5,000

   

 

The "budget" guidelines shown above represent the cost range into which we reckon 90 per cent of the cars in each class would fall. There'll always be a few who can do it more cheaply, and a few who can manage to spend much more than we could ever imagine. Once up and running with the car and basic safety and towing equipment, the running costs are entirely up to you - how far afield you wish to travel and how much of the basic maintenance you want to do yourself.

 

Unlike other motor sports there are no entry fees to factor in (other than the basic admission price on the day, typically £6, and usually a £3 or so per driver contribution towards the first aid/paramedic costs). However, you will be required to make your contribution in other ways by taking on your fair share of the work involved in running the 100% amateur clubs and race meetings. If you just want to go racing without getting involved in helping your club, then Autograss isn't for you.