The beauty of racing in with the Caterham Graduates Racing Club is that each class usually gets its own race. But not usually its own grid. How can that be? Normally, a multiple-class grid will have a single qualifying session with all contestants then lining up for the race in the overall position in which they qualified. So the fastest drivers of a slower class can be ahead of a slower driver in a quicker class. Then, at the start of the race, the slower driver can spurt past under power, block the quicker driver through the corner and pull away during the following straight. Only to repeat the process and slow down his foe at the next corner. So a driver from the slower class can be stuck, watching the car he should be competing with pull away as he is blocked by the slow driver who is having a good time by spoiling other’s fun.
It’s a rarity that the Graduates have to share a grid in this way, and only then because there are three or more classes involved. This will only be on the longer circuits such as Spa Francorchamps, or the Silverstone GP circuit, and as these are power circuits there is much less disruption.
The Grid Line Up
The common way that the Graduates share a grid is for two similar classes to qualify together and then line up on the Start/Finish Straight together, but as two separate grids. The faster class will line up from the Start Line. After these, there will usually be a small gap, followed by the next class. There are two starts. The first is obviously (I hope) for the lead grid, and this begins via the Starting Lights. Then there is a delay of at least ten seconds before the second grid is started via a waved National Flag. The very fact that there is a delay between starts means that there are two separate races, no argument. There is not a winner followed by a top-finisher in class; there are two separate winners. And that’s how it should be.
With five classes, that means two races containing two classes and one race containing one class. Usually, all classes get to have their own grid at least once a year.
Again, there are variances, but the usual procedure is for the race to last for twenty minutes, plus one lap. The timing starts as soon as the lights go out to start the first grid’s race, and, once twenty minutes have passed, race officials wait for the lead car to pass the Start/Finish Line and the race ends one lap later.
When being televised, the race distance may be reduced to fifteen minutes, with the following day’s race distance being extended to twenty five minutes. Occasionally we get race lengths of up to thirty minutes.