Motorsport is expensive. Everyone knows this, especially anyone who has attempted to take part. But it doesn’t have to be.
A quick recap for those who missed last month’s introduction, over the coming months we’ll be using our long-term 2019 Subaru BRZ tS to examine whether a completely standard car (as long as it’s 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 well-adjusted 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.
The event was held by the Ford Four Car Club of Victoria at the Werribee motorkhana track which is – there’s no polite way to say this – a scruffy paddock. It’s easy to miss, for the entrance was dominated by near-metre 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 Spa-Francorchamps 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 didn’t take long on a hot summer’s 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 car’s, that is, not yours. Don’t use a vacuum for that.
It’s 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 car’s 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 ‘flag hit’ and ‘wrong direction’ 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. It’s 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 ‘falling off’ or inconveniencing other track users with a spin.
The good news is that motorkhanas are held all around Australia on most weekends and, if you’re allergic to dirt, they hold them on bitumen, too.
No short stint here on MOTOR's long-term car review
2019 Subaru BRZ tS Pros & Cons
Three motorkhana wins
1 - Cheap as chips
2 - Easy on the gear
3 - Endless skids
Three motorkhana sins
1 - Dust everywhere
2 - Waiting a turn
3 - Tests memory