User:Nicholas Frost/Caterham Graduates Racing Club
Caterham Graduates Racing Club is a British motor-racing club.
The BookaTrack.com Caterham Graduates Championship was started in 1998 by competitors from the 1997 Caterham Scholarship (subsequently Caterham Academy). For the first year it was called the Graduate 797 series (the first "7" for Caterham Seven, and "97" from the year that most drivers started competing). In its first two years, it was a multi-discipline series, with the rounds being made up of sprints (single car on track, against the clock), hillclimbs, and circuit races, similar to the Caterham Scholarship format. The emphasis moved more and more towards circuit races, and from 2000-on the series has comprised solely of circuit races.
In 2001, following the Caterham Academy's change to Rover-engined cars, the championship launched a second class - Super-Graduates - based upon an up-rated Caterham Academy car. In 2003, the class structure was changed to the current format, and the 2001 and 2002 Super-Graduates became a new class called Mega-Graduates. At the same time, a new Super-Graduate class was formed for standard ex-Academy cars. In 2007, the "Graduates" class was rebranded "Classic Graduates".
The series is one of the largest in the UK, if not the largest, with well over 100 registered competitors. The competitors come from a variety of backgrounds. A number have "graduated" from the novice Caterham Scholarship and Academy series, whilst many others have made it their first foray into motorsport.
The Caterham Graduates race series takes place over a number of races meeting each year at UK and European motor racing circuits. The races are usually run over 20-30 minutes and the first car across the line after the time has expired is the winner. Each class generally races on a separate grid, the exception this year being Spa-Francorchamps, where all classes started together on a 65-car grid. The events are typified by close wheel to wheel racing, often having several lead changes on the same lap.
In each of the classes points are awarded thus: 50 for a win, 49 for 2nd place, 48 for 3rd place, right down to 2 points for finishing 49th or lower. And even a driver who fails to finish will still earn one point. At the end of the season, drivers drop their lowest three scores, to allow for missing a race or two, or a "DNF" (did not finish). In addition, drivers can earn 10 championship points by completing a day's marshalling.
As well as the overall championship for each class, there is also the "Teng Tools North/South/East/West Challenge". The highest scoring competitor in each class at Castle Combe (west), Cadwell Park (north), Snetterton (east), Silverstone (south) is awarded a Teng Tools toolbox full of Teng Tools.
In addition to the standard MSA motorsport rules, the club operates a Driving Standards function which ensures that the close racing is fair and safe for all.
The club's racing is organised through the BARC.
The cars in the series are genuinely road-going, although Mega-Graduates spec is moving away from this with the deletion of lights, and indeed a few are driven to and (hopefully) from races. Many are used by drivers mid-week for transport to work and for shopping, needing no more than the covering up of competition numbers to make them road-legal. No changes from the standard specification are allowed, putting the emphasis firmly on driving ability rather than car development and set-up. Along with low consumable costs, this keeps the costs of running a car very much under control, making it one of the most cost-effective ways to go racing. The large grid sizes are a testament to this low-cost formula.
Current classes are:
Mega Graduate - uprated 1600cc Rover K-series Caterham Sevens with independent (DeDion) rear suspension from the Caterham Academy 2001 - 2008. These cars are semi-road legal (no lights or windscreen) and with controlled modifications produce around 150bhp.
In 2009, the Caterham Graduates Club will be allowing 2008 Academy Cars with a Ford Sigma engine to compete as a sub-class of Super Graduates.
All classes run on Yokohama road legal tyres. Classic Graduates race on list 1A A539s, whilst Supers and Megas use the stickier list 1B A048R
Affordability and Technical Support
Affordability is a key ingredient to Caterham Graduates racing. Expensive team support is excluded, and technical support is available to all the drivers on race and test days as part of their membership subscription fees - parts and expertise are provided by McMillan Motorsport. Strict regulations allow only limited modifications and work on the sealed engines is limited to a single nominated engine builder.
Other ways the club promotes affordability include limiting the amount of tyres the drivers can use through the season, providing race-day catering as part of the drivers' membership fees, and encouraging drivers either to stay on-site at the circuits or in budget hotels locally.
Race numbers 1 - 69 go to Mega-Graduates, 71 - 99 to Classic Graduates and 101 - 199 to Super-Graduates.
The lower race numbers represent a driver's performance in the previous season, as the first ten numbers in each class are reserved for those finishing in the previous year's top ten. For instance, Graeme Smith's number 71 indicates that he came 1st in Classic Graduates in 2008. Higher numbers go to those who are new to the championship or class.
2008 Racing Calendar
- Sat 29th March Oulton Park (International Circuit)
- Sat 19th April Rockingham
- Bank Holiday Mon 5th May Castle Combe
- Sun 25th May Snetterton
- Bank Holiday Monday 26th May Snetterton
- Sat 7th June Brands Hatch (Indy Circuit)
- Sat 21st June Silverstone (National Circuit)
- Sat 21st June Silverstone (National Circuit)
- Sun 20th July Mallory Park
- Sat 2nd August Anglesey (Coastal Circuit)
- Sun 3rd August Anglesey (International Circuit)
- Sun 14th Septempber Cadwell Park
- Sat 4th October Spa-Francorchamps
- Sun 5th October Spa-Francorchamps
The current Mega Graduate Champion is Jamie Ellwood, winner of 5 Caterham Championships, and the the only person to have won all 3 Caterham Graduates Championships. Ellwood has been quoted by Caterham Cars as "the most successful Caterham racer ever".
Current Super Graduate Champion is Trevor Newman, Caterham Academy Group 1 Champion in 2005, and runner up in Supergraduates in 2006 and Classic Graduates in 2007.
Classic Graduate Champion is Graeme Smith, the 2008 championship being the third consecutive year he has won the title. Smith is a veteran of more than 200 races and regularly races at invitation events on historic circuits across Europe.
Notable Past Champions
Past champions include 2001 Super-Graduate champion Nelson Rowe who went on to win Caterham Roadsports A in 2002; 2002 Super-Graduate runner-up Jon Barnes who won the 2004 Caterham Eurocup series and is the 2008 British GT Champion; and 2006 Mega-Graduate champion Guy Halley who has competed in The Seat Cupra Cup, a support championship to the British Touring Car Championship.
The series' title sponsor is track day company Bookatrack and the series is run in association with McMillan Motorsport. About a dozen or so other companies have their branding across each of the 100-plus racecars, and on the club's website .
Relatively few of the drivers have individual sponsors, although this is permitted.
The club has a very comprehensive website, , with race results, championship tables, lap records, new joiner information, merchandise, sponsorship information, and a discussion forum.
- www.graduates.org.uk - official website of the Caterham Graduates Racing Club
- Nick Frost, Chairman, Caterham Graduates Racing Club