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Introduction to Banger Racing

Whilst most people that see the work we do here at Caged! will be well accustomed to Banger Racing, there is nothing more amazing when someone new falls in love with the sport!

The following will be a small introduction to what is going on at the track for new fans to the sport.

Part 1: Banger Classes

Banger Racing is simple in its most part – win the race by completing the most laps whilst being allowed to use contact to stop your opponents. However, as the sport has evolved, many different classes of bangers have evolved.

National Bangers: The top level of the sport, National Bangers are allowed the most modifications to their cars.

Domestic Bangers: Also called ‘Rookies’ due to their original purpose of allowing newcomers into the sport, these days each promotion will have a rulebook for their domestic class that is now closer to National specification.

Back to Basics: Filling the gap left as modern National and Domestics became more prepared, Back to Basic Bangers mainly will only allow modifications to the cars to provide safety to the driver, and therefore have the least preparation and the lowest barrier to entry.

Each of the above will have multiple subclasses, including:

Unlimited: Often seen as the pinnacle of Banger Racing, Unlimited Banger Racing allows the use of the heaviest rear-wheel-drive saloons, coupes or estate models (although some American model cars are allowed as Front Wheel Drive). Engines may be replaced for the same or smaller displacement.

2 Litre Bangers: Front Wheel Drive models up to 2L engine size, this class tends to be dominated by Mondeos due to their strength.

Micro Bangers: Models allowed are within the ‘supermini’ range, such as the Nissan Micra and the Ford Fiesta.

Van Bangers: Depending on the class of Bangers, this could range from a Corsa Van in Back to Basics to a Coach in National Big Van Bangers.

There may also be specialist meetings, allowing entries only for Pre-90, Pre-70 or a specific make or model.

Part 2: Flags

Most Banger races will start with a rolling lap, this is to make sure that everyone is at racing speed before the contact starts! Marshals around the track will show a YELLOW flag, and once the starter is happy the race can begin, this will be replaced by the GREEN flag.

Caged broadcaster James Keane displays the Yellow Flag for the rolling lap for Van Bangers at Arlington

The RED flag is the most serious. This means either race control or a safety marshal has seen something that means the race cannot continue. All drivers are required to stop as quickly and and safely as possible to allow track staff to enter the raceway. Drivers who continue to race after they would have reasonably been expected to have seen the RED flag will be dealt with severely, this usually means being disqualified from all other events that day, and possibly being banned for a number of months from the track or affiliated organising body.

In comparison to other stock car formulas, the YELLOW flag isn’t used as much in Bangers, as the rules allow for more contact. When a driver does see a marshal holding a YELLOW out during a race, it usually means a driver is not moving on the track in a dangerous position (e.g. with his drivers door facing the traffic) and therefore caution must be taken to not make contact with that driver.

Drivers cutting corners, jumping the start, or otherwise bending the rules will see a BLACK CROSS board from the starter. This board got its name from the old days where the steward of the meeting would put a cross next to the number of a driver he may want to penalise later. If the starter shows you this, then the steward may be docking you places in that race result.

If a driver does something more serious, or has repeatedly picked up Black Crosses for the same offence, then they will receive the BLACK FLAG. A driver receiving this is required to immediately retire. Depending on the offence, he may be disqualified from the race, the entire meeting, or banned for a length of time. One thing is for certain though, ignoring the BLACK FLAG will make any punishment worse!

Some tracks (mainly those within the ORCi) will also issue a WHITE WITH RED CROSS FLAG to a driver. In practical terms, it means the same as a BLACK FLAG, in that you must retire as soon as able. However, the difference in meaning is that the disqualification is due to the car being unsafe to continue, not due to a drivers actions. However, ignoring this flag will see you upgraded to a BLACK FLAG, and the potential punishments that come with it.

The starter will, where possible, signal to the leading drives their position as the race progresses. As the race enters the final laps, LAP BOARDS will be shown to the drivers to indicate how many laps the leading driver has remaining. Some tracks will use the UNION FLAG to show that the leader has passed the halfway point of the race.

The first driver over the line will see the CHEQUERED FLAG, however as ovals are small, the race doesn’t end there. All drivers are allowed and required to continue under racing rules until the RED FLAGS come out.

Spedeworth Start Marshal Mark Ayres waves the chequered and red flags to signal the end of a DD (Credit: GridArt/Clive Marchant)

Part 3: Race Staff

STEWARD: The Steward will be in Race Control, and have the final say on the meeting. The Steward will be the one that ultimately decides on the the safety of the track, and of the conduct of the drivers.

CLERKS OF THE COURSE: The CoCs are the most senior of marshals out on the raceway. Standing from the infield, they call in any issues with the racing to the steward, and monitor their sections of the track with the safety marshals.

START MARSHAL: The Starter is a senior marshal that occupies the rostrum on the start/finish line. Their job is to make sure that that race start goes correctly, and issue other instructions to the drivers as they cross the line.

SAFETY (FLAG) MARSHALS: Marshals will be in various positions around the raceway. In a Banger race, they will be the first to respond to incidents, and will report to Race Control and the CoCs if they think the race is safe to continue (usually by raising their arm straight above their head in a ‘thumbs up’), or by ordering a race stoppage if they have seen something dangerous, or a driver has requested it (a ‘thumbs down’). SAFETY MARSHALS are also equipped for firefighting, often in the same fire-resistant suits drivers wear, so that as the first person on the scene, any issue can be dealt with.

Safety Marshal Liam Horner is ready for action on the pit bend of Arlington

PACE CAR DRIVER: Not all tracks use a pace car, and those that do can’t always use one in winter months, but where there is a pace car, there is one simple rule: DO NOT PASS IT UNLESS EXPLICITLY TOLD TO. On a race start or restart after a RED FLAG, the pace car will control the rolling lap speed so that the leaders cannot jump the start, and during a stoppage they will join the track in a position that controls the traffic to allow SAFETY MARSHALS and CLERKS OF THE COURSE to enter the track safely. Because of this, drivers overtaking the Pace Car without permission will be instantly disqualified and possibly banned if the offence is serious. At big events, a second starter will be on the back of the pace car to control the start and add to the spectacle.

LAP SCORER: One of the most thankless tasks in banger racing, the LAP SCORER will attempt to record each car as they complete a lap, which will form the official finishing positions.

COMMENTATOR: A great commentator will not only entertain the fans, but as the link between the control box and spectators also has the duty of making sure any safety messages are relayed. At many tracks, the commentator is also linked to the ‘other ear’ of the start marshal too, and will communicate leader and lap information to him as part of the commentary so that they can give the appropriate signals to the drivers.

PIT MARSHALS: When everyone else is watching the racing, they are making sure the drivers are safe in the pits and lined up ready for their next race.

SCRUTINEERS: The scrutineers will inspect every car before the meeting, and before they enter the track each driver will have the car and their equipment (such as overalls and helmets) inspected. During the meeting at least one scrutineer will usually be watching the racing to identify cars that require deeper inspection, and after major championships they will ensure that the winning cars comply to the rules to the strictest of standards. Many scrutineers in Banger racing are respected Banger racers themselves, and therefore can use their experience to judge a cars safety using their experience.

RECOVERY: A Banger race leaves many cars unable to leave the track, the recovery team make sure stranded cars are taken from the raceway back to the pit area safely.