Autograss is a non-contact motorsport that takes place on an oval (approximately 400 metre) track using a natural soil surface. Due to the close nature of the racing, thrills and spills are never far away. There are several differing classes of car, from near standard minis or small hatchbacks through to spaceframed single seaters with monster V8 or twin motorbike power! Up to 8 cars start on a straight line grid and race over short 4-8 lap races. This results in the major meetings, most of which are staged over 2 days, offering upwards of 200 races. All classes normally race through qualifying heats and finals and, if time permits, open races where different classes race against each other.
The social side of the sport is a very large factor in its appeal and friends from all over the country meet and catch up at the "larger" events. The family nature of the sport is important - sometimes all members of a family can share the same racing car, although juniors (12-16 yrs) are restricted to two less powerful classes for obvious reasons!
No autograss event requires competitors to enter prior to the day and (with the exception of the National Championships, which require qualification/registration) any NASA licence holder can race at any NASA meeting just by turning up with a car that meets the national construction rules for its class. This even applies to rounds of the British Autograss Series (BAS) which is a number of events throughout the season over which points are accumulated to produce class and overall champions.
Racing licences are available for men, ladies and juniors. Also available are mechanics and social licences for those who do not wish to race but would like to be
part of this very affordable motor sport. It is first and foremost an amateur sport, so there are always plenty of opportunities to join in and help to run your local club! As time goes by, there are
also chances to become more involved with the sport on a higher organisational level, or simply to turn up and continue enjoying your racing! (quoted from
This class is ideal for beginners to the sport, those racing to a low budget and is also the only saloon class in which 12 - 16 year olds (Juniors) may race. A complete family often race the same car in this class, Dad in the Men's races, Mum in the Ladies races and Junior (girl or boy) in the Junior races. Sometimes they even have a car each. There are no special tuning modifications allowed, the engine/gearbox must remain basically standard within strictly enforced maximum and minimum tolerances. This ensures that costs are kept within affordable limits and that there is very close racing in this class. The car used must be a Mini saloon, Bubble Micra, Yaris, Peugeot 106 or Citroen AX,. The engine and gearbox must be from the same car of a maximum of 1000cc capacity.
This class is ideal for beginners to the sport, those racing to a low budget and those who wish to race either a Rear Wheel Drive or Front Wheel Drive vehicle, although nowadays, front wheel drive cars dominate. There are limited special tuning modifications allowed, the engine gearbox must remain basically standard within strictly enforced measurements. All the fuel-air mixture must pass through a single 32mm diameter restrictor. This ensures that costs are kept within affordable limits and that there is very close racing in-this class. The car used may be of either Rear Wheel Drive, either a saloon, estate or hatchback, or Front Wheel Drive either a saloon or hatchback. The engine must be of a maximum of 1300cc capacity. To limit the use of "odd' or "specialist" cars the types of vehicle make and model are restricted to those that are listed in the original Palgrave and now Glasses Guide Technical Services Data Manuals. At present there are over 200 different types of car makes & models eligible for this class. e.g, Ford Fiesta, Escort, Orion, Toyota Starlet/Corolla, Mazda 323, Hillman Imp (875cc only), Suzuki SCIOO, Skoda 120, 130, & 135/6, Vauxhall Nova, Astra, Cavalier, VW Polo, Golf, Rover Maestro, Montego, Nissan Micra, Fiat Uno, Strada, Peugeot 205, Renault Clio, Seat Ibiza, etc.
This class is ideal for those who want to put a 'big' engine in place of the original engine. This is a popular class with very close fast sideways racing. The cars resemble stadium 'Hot Rods' as they used to be and to a certain degree, as they are now. The car used must be a saloon or hatchback and have Rear Wheel Drive. Any front engined, front wheel drive saloons with a wheelbase of 2400mm or more may be converted to front engine rear wheel drive. The engine must be of a minimum of 1421 cc capacity. There are unlimited tuning modifications allowed, the engine/gearbox/axle need not be original. At present there are many popular combinations of body shell & engines. e.g. RWD Ford Escort Mk I & 2, Sierra, Toyota Starlets, Talbot Sunbeam, converted FWD Peugeot 206 & 309, all fitted with one of the following engines: Ford 2.1 & 2.5 Pinto / Vauxhall 2.0 VW 1.9 Rover V8 / Ford V6 / Renault V6 etc. 16 valve engines are now allowed in the class.
This is the smallest capacity modified engine class, ideal for those who want to squeeze more power than anyone else out of a small engine. The car used must be a Front or Rear Wheel Drive saloon, hatchback, van or pick up. The engine must be of a maximum of 1130cc capacity, be of the type originally fitted to the car and must remain in its original position. There are unlimited tuning modifications allowed This is a popular class and consists of mainly Mini's with a few Imps and Fiats, hoever this class is beginnning to see many of the latest generation of under 1130cc cars such as the Citroen Visa, AX, VW Polo, Vauxhall Nova, Nissan Micra, Peugeot 106 & 205 Fiat Uno 60, Strada 60 and Rover 111
This is the smallest "any engine in any vehicle" class, ideal for those who want to experiment with various engine, gearbox & body shell combinations. Any body shell i.e. saloon, hatchback, van or pick up, may be used to produce a Front or Rear Wheel Drive vehicle The use of spaceframing is widespread! The engine must be of a minimum of 1131 and a maximum of 1420 cubic capacity and have 2 valves per cylinder, multi-valve engines are not allowed. There are almost unlimited tuning modifications allowed, the engine / gearbox / transaxle / axle need not be original or fitted in its original position. This is a popular class and consists of mainly Mini's, Nova's, Fiesta's Peugeot 106's Citroen AX's and Imp's, with the engine and gearboxes not necessarily being of the type originally fitted or even in the position the original vehicle manufacturer intended or imagined. This class is ideal for the latest generation of under 1420cc cars such as the Citroen AX, Peugeot 106 and 205, Vauxhall Astra, Nova and Corsa.
This is the Front Wheel Drive any engine in any vehicle 1421 cc capacity and above modified engine class, ideal for those who want to experiment with various engine & body shell combinations. Any body shell i.e. saloon, hatchback, van or pick up, may be used to produce a Front Wheel Drive vehicle. The engine must be of a minimum of 1421 cc and of an unlimited maximum capacity, multi-valve engines are allowed and this class is ideal for the latest generation of 1421 cc and over cars such as the Citroen AX, Ford Escort, VW Golf, Vauxhall Astra, Nova & Corsa, Nissan Micra and Peugeot 106, 205 & 306. There are unlimited tuning modifications allowed, the engine / gearbox / transaxle axle need not be original or fitted in its original position. There are a multitude of body shell types currently used with 1.4 / 1.6 / 1.8 / 2.0 SOHC & DOHC engines fitted in Mini's, Fiesta's, Nova's Corsa's etc; not necessarily being of the type originally fitted or even in the position the original vehicle manufacturer intended.
This is the "super saloon" any engine in any vehicle class, ideal for those who want to experiment with various engine & body shell combinations. If you want you can even fit 2 engines! Any body shell - i.e. saloon, hatchback, van or pick up, may be used to produce a Rear Wheel Drive vehicle. The engine or engines must be of a minimum or combined cc of 1421 and of a free maximum cc capacity, multi-valve engines are allowed. There are unlimited tuning modifications allowed, the engine / gearbox / transaxle / axle need not be original or fitted in its original position. Class7cars consist of a multitude of body shell types with 1.8, 2.O SOHC & DOHC/V6/V8 engines mainly midmounted or twin 1.0 / 1. I / 1.2 motorbike engine & gearbox units chain or gear driven onto a common drive shaft. This is the most spectacular of the saloon classes and is very popular with the spectators for its action packed racing. Bodyshells used can be Peugeots, Novas, Fiestas, Clios or even old or new-style Minis with the engines and gearboxes not necessarily being of the type originally fitted or even in the position the original vehicle manufacturer intended or imagined.
Class 8, 9 + 10
These are vehicles with a steel tube spaceframe chassis, either home constructed or professionally built, divided into three classes by the application of an engine capacity and/or engine type limit. The specials are strongly built to withstand a collision or roll over, but are not fitted with bumper bars as deliberate contact is definitely not allowed. There are unlimited tuning modifications allowed, the engine / gearbox / transaxle / axle types are free according to each class cc limit and specification. Specials are fitted with a multitude of engine types with 1.0, 1. 1, 1.3 Motorcycle, 1.3 / 1.4 SOHC & DOHC engines or 1.8, 2.0 SOHC & DOHC engines or 2.1, 2.5 DOHC / 2.8, 3.0 V6 / 3.5, 4.0 & 5.0+ ltr V8 engines, mainly being mid or rear mounted to a Hewland/RenaulttVW gearbox or direct drive. All of the special classes are very popular with the spectators.
These are a junior version of the adult specials, with a full space frame chassis, some made from "used" adult cars, but ALL cars must use the Vauxhall Corsa 1200cc engine, plus specified Vauxhall gearboxes, original style struts and driveshafts. No engine or gearbox modifications are allowed, apart from some basic reconditioning. With cheap donor cars plentiful and older chassis easy and cheap to come by, this can be a very economic option. The engines and frames can last an entire four year racing career! Professionally constructed cars are also available ready built or in kit form. Drivers of these cars must be between the ages of 12 and 16 years, although adults can drive these cars at single day club meetings.
The F600 class is in essence an introductory specials class which runs to class 8 specifications with further restrictions imposed. This is an attempt to reduce cost and increase the quantity of specials racing at club level.
Photographs Copyright © James Clancy (Clades.co.uk) 2009