By Peter Tattersall
In 1998 I competed in the Caterham Scholarship, which has since transmuted into the Caterham Academy. This series was a championship specifically for people who had never raced before. The entry fee for me was around £10,200 and for this I received a brand new unpainted car in kit form, my passage through the process of getting a race license, plus entry to three hill climbs, three sprints and, at the end of the season, two races.
The previous season’s entrants included Nick Frost and Nick Haryett who were to become long-term stalwarts of the Caterham Graduates Racing Club. But first the group had to decide what they were going to do for the future. Their choices were not good: join the back of one of the many 750 Motor Club classes or move to another series. The latter choice would involve selling one car to buy another or finding another series to suite their current steeds. Or they could quit racing? None of those options were satisfactory, as the group wanted to continue racing together, so after seeking professional advice they formed their own race series. As they had just completed the Scholarship, it was decided that they had graduated, hence the name of the series: the Caterham Graduates Racing Club. You can read a far more detailed, and entertaining, description by Mr Frost himself, by following this link:
I myself have extremely flimsy evidence as being a competitor in the founding year, as the 1998 Scholarship season ended before the Graduates and so 1998’s entire intake was invited to the season finale at Pembrey. This is where I discovered just how much I still needed to learn! Nevertheless, I and my co-competitors were welcomed with open arms, a welcome that has been extended to all new entrants since. And it is not just competitors from the Scholarship / Academy that join us; anyone can sign up, whether a veteran competitor or a complete beginner, and all are equally welcome.
The club has gone from strength to strength, and has expanded from just a single class to five classes, all of which get their own race, usually spread over three grids.