Following most major RoadRallies of the 1950's was a tie deciding "Driving Test" involving simple manoeuvrability sections, which involved "parking the car" against the clock. Gradually Driving Tests became a discipline of motor sport of its own and in the 1960's developed into Autotests and Championships were formed, particularly one from the BTRDA.
Autotests involve driving the car on a timed, predetermined memorised route, with penalties added for striking markers, bad positioning on the lines and not completing the test correctly.
The 2017 demon tweeks BTRDA Autotest Championship comprises 11 rounds at venues across England, Wales and Scotland. Vehicles are classified according to overall length, body type, and engine size into five classes and 3 additional scoring classes for Juniors (under 25), Jubilee Drivers (over 45) and Ladies. A new addition in 2009 was the Road Going Class E, for Saloon cars that are capable of being driven on the road, are taxed and have an MOT. The inclusion of Class E has resulted in tests being more open, with the intention that all drivers in the class will be able to get round without excessive use of the handbrake, but still demanding. For 2013 Roadgoing Production Sports Cars were added into this Class.
Despite the apparent need for optimum power and handling capabilities it will be possible to be competitive in a standard road car, driver skill being the important ingredient.
Notable drivers who cut their teeth in the world of Autotesting include Trevor Smith (1991 National Rally Champion), the late Colin McRae (1991/1992 British Rally Champion and 1995 World Rally Champion) and Russ Swift (Professional Stunt Driver). Russ's son Paul has already topped his dads performance by winning the Gold star 4 times, in 2007 it was a double win with Paul also winning the MSA title. All this has been in the same car except that Russ drove the mini as a saloon and now it is a topless mini special.
In 1999, at 21 years old, Alastair Moffatt became the youngest winner of the Gold Star® Championship driving a mini special. He started championship autotesting at the age of 16 driving a 1.4 Nova. Alastair then went on to spend 2 years with the Bill Gywnne Junior Rally team. In 2000 it was 46 year old Tim Sargeant who was the champion in his 2 litre Dutton sports car. Autotesting is a sport for all ages.
In 2006 Alastair brought the mini special back out to have another go. To show that class really does pay, he got FTD on the second round of the 2006 championship at the difficult venue of the Foxley estate. It proves that autotest skills once learnt do not get forgotten. Alastair then went on to finish 2nd overall in the Gold Star championship. For 2008 there was a serious go at the Championship with the end result a justly won his 2nd Gold Star this was followed with a 3rd in 2009, a 4th in 2010 and a 5th in 2011.
2012 saw an influx of extremely competitive drivers from "over the water" to contest the Championship, with Steven Ferguson taking the overall honour, but in 2013 Richard Pinkney restored English pride by taking his first Gold Star and did so again in 2014. 2015 saw the return of Alastair Moffatt in a newly aquired "Irish" Mini Special, who took 6 FTDs during the year to add a 6th Gold Star to his name and continued his winning ways in 2016 with 4 FTDs and a 7th Gold Star.
- 2017 BTRDA® Demon Tweeks Autotest Championship Rules & Dates (0.19mb)
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