Getting into motorsport is difficult. It’s expensive, time-consuming and complicated. If it wasn’t, we’d all be racing drivers.
Thankfully, it’s still easier through some routes than others, and for the past two decades Caterham has enabled more than 900 people to taste the thrill of racing through its Caterham Academy.
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To celebrate, the firm has put together a short video of the very first Academy race at Mallory Park in 1995. While not footage of the whole race, it gives a taste as to what the Academy involved back then and still does today – close racing in evenly-matched cars, for a relatively modest budget.
Today, that budget is £22,995 for a self-built car and inclusion in the series, or £25,995 for a fully-built model. The Academy cars use 125bhp four-cylinder Ford Sigma power, with a five-speed gearbox and open differential.
You could go quicker in one of Caterham’s more powerful road-going models of course, but that isn’t the point – more power would just widen the gulf between drivers more and less able to exploit it, and diminish the appeal of close competition.
Winner of that very first race was Simon Lambert, who works for Caterham as Chief Technical & Motorsport Officer. ‘The Academy… made my childhood dream of being a racing driver become a reality,’ he said – and in his current role, looking after the series, Lambert is now able to make it a reality for others too.
Some series are cheaper of course, particularly given the Academy’s amateurs-only nature, but few boast the Academy’s inclusive ARDS course and exam, test day, car control days and occasional TV coverage.
evo itself has competed in the Academy, notably in 2003 when Jethro Bovingdon took part – and Caterhams themselves have always been a part of the magazine, down to our current Seven 420R long-termer. In fact, we really should get around to competing again at some point…
You can catch further details on the Academy in the series’ introduction video below.