PADDOCK CLUB

Who says motorsport has to break the bank?

- SN

MOTORSPORT IS expensive. Everyone knows this, especially anyone who has attempted to take part. But it doesnít have to be. A quick recap for those who missed last monthís introduction, over the coming months weíll be using our long-term Subaru BRZ tS to examine whether a completely standard car (as long as itís the right one), a modest budget and hefty helping of enthusiasm is enough to enjoy a variety of motorsport events.

First up, motorkhana. In terms of cost and vehicle preparation, motorkhana is the simplest form of motorsport there is. Those who get serious about it invent all sorts of wacky specials, but any standard vehicle will be fine, though a welladjusted handbrake is certainly an advantage. For the come-and-try event attended by myself and Dylan, the BRZ tS needed nothing but some fuel in the tank and some air in the tyres, not even a fire extinguisher. Just make sure the battery is clamped down nice and tight if you have an older car.

The variety of machinery on display was honestly astounding. As well as your usual array of beaten-up mid-1980s hatchbacks which make great motorkhana hacks, there was a Walkinshaw-tuned Holden VY SS, a bug-eye Subaru WRX hatch, a new base-model Renault Clio, a Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg rally car, a Humpy Holden and even a pair of W126-series Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupes.

01 Zero-risk hooning. Even should you nail one of the flags the worst case scenario is a slight mark on the paint

02 If youíre a clean freak prepare to have issues, for dust will get into places of you and your car you didnít even know existed

03 Oops. Nothing to do with the motorkhana, but an argument with a trailer meant the BRZ required some cosmetic surgery

04 In case you donít believe us that any vehicle is suitable, here a Mazda MX-5, Renault Clio, FJ Holden, Hyundai Excel, Subaru WRX and BRZ await their turns

The event was held by the Ford Four Car Club of Victoria at the Werribee motorkhana track which is - thereís no polite way to say this - a scruffy paddock. Itís easy to miss, for the entrance was dominated by nearmetre high grass and the paddock - sorry, track - was overgrown with a variety of small plants, weeds and clumps of dirt and looked about as much like a motorsport venue as SpaFrancorchamps does a dairy farm.

As it turns out, looks can be deceiving. This come-and-try day was the first event for the year, thus the rather unruly condition of the grounds.

It didnít take long on a hot summerís day for the paddock to become a dust bowl as the surface was churned up by dozens of enthusiastically spinning wheels. A tip for unsealed motorkhanas: wear old clothes and be prepared to spend plenty of time vacuuming dust out of crevices. The carís, that is, not yours. Donít use a vacuum for that.

DIRT MOTORKHANAS ARE GREAT FUN, OFFERING A COMPLETELY CONSEQUENCE-FREE ENVIRONMENT

Itís easy for more seasoned motorsport campaigners to look down their noses at motorkhanas due to its low-speed nature. After all, most courses can be completed in first gear with short forays into second, but the courses themselves are often fiendishly tricky, requiring not only the ability to adjust a carís direction quickly at low speeds but also to remember the course while driving as quickly as possible.

Thankfully, as a come-and-try day Editor Dylan and I were saved the humiliation of Ďflag hití and Ďwrong directioní penalties, which would have scuppered any chance of success.

There was no timing and no winners, although with an empty field and a rear-wheel drive sports car to play with we certainly felt like winners.

A number of courses were laid out, from a simple slalom to one that if you traced it correctly would look like the Toyota badge from above. Somewhat appropriately, given the origins of our vehicle, this faster test was our favourite, mainly because it involved doing two massive circles of an imaginary dusty roundabout.

It was great fun, but also brilliant driver training. Itís a completely consequence-free environment, allowing you to try a Scandinavian flick or tweak of the handbrake to see what happens, actions that seem intimidating even on a racetrack due to the higher speeds involved and possibility of Ďfalling offí or inconveniencing other track users with a spin. The good news is that motorkhanas are held all around Australia on most weekends and, if youíre allergic to dirt, they hold them on bitumen, too.

- SN