Up until this a short time ago I didn’t know what Sandocross was and yet each year, Weston-super-Mare Motor Club run this event on the beach at Weston. I’ve lived in Weston-super-Mare for 11 years, use the beach regularly and yet I’ve never seen this event being run.
So what exactly is Sandocross? It’s a variation of Autocross and is unique to Weston-super-Mare Motor Club as they are the only club running this type of event on the mainland of the UK. Because of its unique style, Sandocross is very popular with competitors in the South West. However, whilst it gives competitors the chance of experiencing speed, it does require a slightly different approach when driving on wet sand which can be quite unforgiving. Sandocross still requires good driving skill, as well as the ability to ’read’ the surface of the sand in order to achieve maximum traction and the best time.
What type of vehicle can be used for this event? During the day I saw all types, from what were obviously road going cars which still had number plates and tax disks, to this little beauty which must be ideal for this event.
Some more of this one later
Sandocross takes place on Weston Sands and the date is usually sometime in April/May dependent upon the tide times. The course is around 1200 yards and is usually in the form of an oval with just one chicane along the bottom straight. Like Autocross, each run is over a distance of 3 or 4 laps and competitors usually get 3 runs during the day plus a practise run of 3 laps. As with Autocross the competition is against the clock as opposed to pure racing, but because it is possible to have a wider track than on a grass field, it is usual to have four cars leaving the start line together.
As you can gather, 4 cars hurtling round the beach a break-neck speeds means there has to be plenty of Health and Safety. The race track is coned and marshalls are ever-present. Beyond the coned area a further safety zone is present which is roped off with safety signs
So with this type of separation and for me to get the close-ups, I had to get out my Big Lens, the Sigma 150 – 500mm, which is attached to my trusty Samsung GX-10 DSLR. After a while a lens this size can be quite heavy to hold so I support it using a Giottos monopod, which gives that much-needed additional support and stability. OK, now we have established what I used let’s look at some more images from Sandocross 2010.
Whoo Hoo, that’s my type of car above and for most of the day he certainly shifted around the track. However, other contestants were using what looked like to me anyway, road going vehicles.
The number plate’s there and it looks like the tax disk is as well, bits of tape over the headlights and number 11 stuck on with sticky tape.
Although the sand surface of the track is smooth at the start of the event it soon gets bumpy and a couple of times I saw cars take off
The back wheel is in the air but this next one is much better with the two front wheels taking off
As there are normally four cars on the track at any one time there is always a risk of contact between the competitors. Ouch!
For this reason the organisers recommend that competitors use cars prepared for Autocross i.e. at least a sump guard, probably uprated suspension and ideally, a basic roll cage, as sand can be a lot less forgiving than you may think. I don’t know if the car above was fitted with all the recommended bits but it certainly continued racing, even with that boot lid up.
The Classes for Sandocross are the same as those for Autocross with 2 classes covering cars described as Economy Production Saloons based on engine size. Then there are the classes for more highly modified saloon cars with 3 engine capacity splits and finally the class for pure ’Specials’ and production based 4wd cars such as Impreza, Evo etc. The latter are normally modified to a rally specification.
There were a few spills and bumps, cones were regularly sent flying. This competitor had to stop because a cone got trapped underneath his front end
I promised you some more of that little beauty at the top so here it is
Whilst this one was going round it was closely followed by this one
At the present time, Weston-super-Mare Motor Club run one Sandocross each year and to be eligible to compete, all you have to do is become a member of Weston MC. You also need to purchase a Competition Licence from the ruling body of British Motor Sport – The Motor Sports Association. All pretty straight forward and worth considering if you want to have some motor sport fun.!
So with that I’ll leave you with some more images from what was for me a really exciting day out
With thanks to Weston-super-Mare Motor Club for the information about SandoCross. If you are in the south-west and want more information then follow this link to Weston-super-Mare Motor Club
- End of the pier? Far from it (telegraph.co.uk)
- Castles made of sand (independent.co.uk)
- British beach, coast and seaside guide: Somerset (telegraph.co.uk)
- Kelis, Faithless, Gabriella Cilmi and Tinchy Stryder are final acts to join T4 On The Beach 2010 (unrealityshout.com)