25.01.10: Banger racing in a Hyundai i10

Time 11:45 am, January 25, 2010


OUCH. Why is my body telling me it’s been in a major car accident? Oh… that’ll be because it has.

Last night was my debut as a banger racer in a Hyundai i10 and things went, er, not so well. To say I was nervous in the lead up to the race would be a monumental understatement. I didn’t realise palms could leak so much sweat until yesterday – I could have done with man nappies for my hands.

The involuntary shaking wasn’t helped much either by the other competitors’ comments. When the i10 pulled up on the back of the low loader it quickly assembled a crowd. One experienced-looking racer said: ‘What the hell is that? Someone’s got some big kahunas.’

Most uttered expletives that can’t be reproduced here. But the worst came from a chap who ambled over with a neckbrace on – not your normal foam version, but the kind you only get for serious problems.

He took great delight in telling me he did it banger racing on New Year’s Day and when asked my chances simply smirked and walked off. Confidence inspiring it was not.


Sturdy 'roll cage' instilled much confidence

If I wanted to keep a low profile, bringing a camera crew, a photographer and a bigger entourage than Mariah Carey was probably not a wise move.

It didn’t help that we took up half the car park taking a cover shot when some other drivers were trying to park. We were moved on before things got too nasty.

I might as well of painted a big sign on the back of the car that said BANGER RACING IS FOR GIRLS – because I couldn’t really have done anything to make the assembled mass of racers hate me any more.


When the race finally came around if I hadn’t been strapped so tightly into the i10 I would have run a mile. Panic is not a nice feeling.

My heart was trying to make a loud and rather dramatic exit from my rib cage as I waited in line getting gassed by the poorly fuelled rival cars.


'The Stick' tries to clamber into the i10

I tried to focus/stay concious, but was being harassed by the driver next to me. He kept saying I was going to get crushed – it felt a bit like a first day in prison (one would imagine).

After a formation lap I got ready to settle in to the first three laps of ‘no contact’ racing, and made steady progress for half the circuit until what can only be described as an apocalyptic accident exploded ahead of me.

My adrenaline fuelled brain refused to acknowledge the waved red flags indicating drivers to STOP NOW and I dodged about 15 stationary cars thinking I’d made excellent progress.

It wasn’t until I get shouted at by a marshal that I realised I was the only car moving. Whoops… that will NOT go down well.

The marshal pointed at his head, in a ‘what the hell were you thinking you muppet’ style and I felt suitably ashamed.

If I wasn’t a target before that, then I certainly was by then ; there were 15 cars behind me, every one of which I’d illegally overtaken. Revenge was likely.


I suppose that sort of explained what happened in the next lap. After the pace car peeled off following the restart I nailed the i10 onto the straight, but as I changed into second a fuelling fluff stifled progress and SMACK – I was rear-ended in what would later be described as a ‘horrific crash’.

Pranged it...

Pranged it...

The i10 was punted straight into the fence, spun twice and I ended up horizontal across the track – directly in front of the grandstand….

The worst thing wasn’t the accident though – it was the fact this meant I’d been transformed from competitor into an obstacle and had to sit there for the remaining 11 laps waiting to be hit.

I can only describe it as like sitting in a stationary car in lane two of a motorway as other cars try desperately to avoid you.

I managed to look out of the side window once but the site of a train of mangled metal coming towards me at serious speed was enough to make me close my eyes and pray. I felt physically sick.

I’d been told to stay in the car if I had a prang and wait – more people get hurt in banger racing by getting out of the car than by staying in it (as we saw on the night) – so wait I did. When the chequered flag waved and the tow truck pulled up, I jumped out to survey the damage – it was quite clear my night was over.

Back in the paddock mechanics took one look at it and confirmed the worst (best) news – the engine was nearly touching the floor and the drive shaft had come out. My night was over after one-and-a-half laps of racing.

But on the positive side, we caught the whole thing on camera for a video we’re producing and our snapper Dean captured it too. Some of his pics are below in a gallery.

The full story of our Hyundai banger race will be in the next issue of Car Dealer – you can make sure you get your copy by clicking here.

And if you fancy having a go at banger racing with us (you’d be mad) let me know – we’re planning a Car Dealer Banger Race and already have a number of teams lined up.

Right, I’m off to rest the neck…


For more banger racing blogs click here


James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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