As soon as you have some budget at your disposal you can look at getting behind the wheel. However you’re highly unlikely to be able to buy a car and compete with such limited funds, which means using your everyday road car.
There are plenty of events in which a standard road car is not only eligible but unlikely to suffer any damage beyond a bit of wear and tear of the tyres and brakes, but that’s where your £500 budget comes in.
Road Rallying is not only open to road cars, it is only open to road cars, as it takes place on the public highway. Run by motor clubs across the country with entry fees of roughly £40, Road Rallies involve getting from a start point to the finish via a series of time controls on schedule. This generally means maintaining an average speed of 30mph, and the challenge is that the navigator has to work out where to go using a map and a number of clues.
Similarly AutoSOLOs are only for road cars, which must be driven to and from the events, costing around £25-30 to enter. The name of the game is to complete a cone-marked course as quickly as possible without knocking any of the cones.
Autotests are similar to AutoSOLOs but slightly more demanding. While the top classes are for modified ‘Specials’ there are usually road-going classes for standard road cars, with entry fees also coming in at approximately £25-30.
You could also take your road car along to a Run What Ya Brung Drag Racing event, though budget a couple of hundred pounds for a helmet if you expect to be hitting or exceeding 100mph.
Meanwhile if you have a 4x4 vehicle you could have a go at some Cross Country events such as Tyro Trials, which take place on off-road terrain of varying severity and are a good test of showroom standard vehicles and their drivers. For RTV Trials you will certainly need a more aggressive set of road legal tyres and, depending upon your vehicle, modifications to approach and departure angles may be required. A typical entry fee is £30-35 for the day, and you can take a passenger who can share the cost with you. You will also need a Clubman Licence as a minimum.
Another possibility is Clubcross, which is essentially entry level Rallycross. All you need to pit yourself against the clock on a grass track is a Clubman Licence, a standard road car, a Motorsport UK compliant helmet and overalls, and £40-50 for the entry fee.
Finally, you can go arrive-and-drive karting. Not only is this cost-effective, with track time starting from as little as £30 per session, but all of the equipment is provided for you as well. A list of kart tracks can be found on the National Karting Association website.