Ensuring safety and fair play

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A Scrutineer’s job is to check that competing vehicles comply with the relevant technical regulations, which help to ensure safety and fair play. While experience in engineering or a similar technical field is usually an advantage, it is not essential.

The process for obtaining a Trainee Scrutineer licence is free and simple; complete a Motorsport UK’s New Officials Registration form and return it by post to the Membership Services Team. You will need to tick the relevant box or boxes depending on whether you want to be a Car, Kart or Environmental Trainee Scrutineer and you can apply to be all three if you wish.

You’ll then be sent a Trainee Licence and an introductory pack, with a Training Module and DVD.

John Cooper has been involved in motorsport since the age of 14 and first became a trainee scrutineer in 1986. He is the eligibility scrutineer for the BTRDA Gravel Championship, the Roger Albert Clark Rally Championship and the Association of South Western Motor Clubs.

“I travelled a lot in the early days as a trainee scrutineer, which is what you need to do; you need to get out and about. Scrutineering is all about making sure that competition cars comply with the technical regulations in order to ensure fair and safe play. It’s also about problem-solving, and I like the challenge of using my knowledge and experience to take a competitor from a position of being ineligible to compete to being eligible again. To most problems, there is a solution, and it’s been a long time since I turned a competitor away because their car simply couldn’t be made eligible for the event.

“On-event it can be an early start for the scrutineering team, which could be as few as two people and as many as nine or so. To start off with we liaise with the Clerk of the Course and the Secretary, we make sure we know who the Motorsport UK Steward is, and we make sure we know which section of the technical regulations we’re working to.

“When it comes to actually inspecting a vehicle, I tend to start at the engine bay and walk around the car via the driver’s side looking at things like harnesses, seats, fire extinguishers, the roll cage and floor. We also check helmets and overalls, as well as HANS devices when required, and we look at MOT certificates, registration documents and Competition Car Log Books (CCLBs).

“You get out of scrutineering what you put in. I scrutineer as far north as Yorkshire and Scotland, and I live in Cornwall! But if you’re willing to put in the hard yards the rewards are that you can get yourself out and about and maybe even see the world; scrutineering has taken me as far as Kenya, where I was Chief Scrutineer on the Classic Safari Rally. I’ve also seen most of Europe through scrutineering. It’s hard work, there’s no doubt about it, but it really is good fun.”

Keith Auld started scrutineering at Snetterton in the mid-1970s. He is currently the Eligibility Scrutineer for the Renault Clio Cup and Chief Scrutineer for BARC.

“The satisfaction that I get from scrutineering comes from helping to make sure that everybody has a chance to enjoy their motorsport not just safely but on a fair and level playing field by checking that their cars meet the rules.

“You don’t have to be a mechanic to become a scrutineer. You just need to have an interest in motorsport and cars and a basic knowledge about how they work. The rest of the required knowledge comes from training and building up experience over time. That’s not just limited to the actual task of scrutineering; you’ve also got to know what the Clerk of the Course does, what the Stewards do, what the Rescue and Recovery Crews do, and you’ve got to have knowledge of Motorsport UK’s Blue Book.

“Scrutineering has taken me as far afield as Asia. I’ve scrutineered GTs, Formula Renaults, Formula BMWs and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia in places like China and Japan, having been invited out there by championship organisers. One of my best ever experiences was scrutineering the first race meeting in Dubai for the FIA World Touring Car Championship and the FIA GT1 event. Motorsport communities around the world recognise the ability of scrutineers in the UK, and they want to tap into that experience to make sure that things are done correctly. That’s one of the perks of the job for a good and experienced British scrutineer.

“The best way to get started in scrutineering is to join your local motor club, where you’ll meet existing volunteers and find out all about what’s involved. Then you need to apply to Motorsport UK for your trainee licence, after which you can get in touch with a mentor in your area. That person will take you to your first meetings and events, so you don’t have to worry about being thrown in at the deep end or being expected to find your feet by yourself. You’ll also have to complete Motorsport UK’s training module, but from there the sky’s the limit, so long as you’re willing to put the effort in.”