For our second Q&A we talk to Aarron Cropley who made his racing debut last year in a Class 1 Nissan Micra (#SP115).
Getting to know Aarron
Years racing in autograss: 2018 is my 2nd year, but my 1st full season.
1st autograss car was…. Nissan Micra K11 1.0 (Class One).
Proudest moment in autograss was…. My first win in a B Final at SP (My home club)
Most embarassing moment in autograss was…. Heavy Rain at Scunny (I remember seeing you on the day). I ran out of clear tape on my goggles on the start line, spun on the first corner, and couldn’t see (face full of wet mud).
On a scale of one 1-10, what is your mechanical nous like (1 being I just drive, 10 being I do everything) 2 or 3. I know nothing about building/fixing engines.
On a scale of one 1-10 how would you rate yourself as racing driver (1 being rookie, 10 being best in class) 1 or 2. I have so much to learn.
What racing driver outside of autograss gets you jumping around like a true fan? I’m not a fan of anyone to be honest. I like to see Hamilton do well for British Motorsport.
I first met you as a fellow photographer at Sturton and it wasn’t long after that when you decided to get behind the wheel to have a go yourself. What attracted you to race in autograss? For me I’ve always been around autograss since being a little boy watching my Dad (who no longer races). My god father builds Class 1’s ( Richard Green, RAG Racing) and when the opportunity came along for me to have my own I couldn’t wait.
You chose to race a Nissan Micra in Class 1. Why Class 1 and why a Micra over a Mini or a Yaris? Classs one is a brilliant chance for people who only have a small budget to get into autograss, learn to race and enjoy the sport along the way. A Micra was the option for me due to price & also because I know Rag Racing very well – Richard builds a brilliant affordable car. I love my little Micra.
You chose to race for Spalding which is not the biggest club. How have you found Spalding and, with it being smaller, is that a plus point for a rookie? I chose Spalding for two reason. 1, It’s the club I went to watch my Dad at from very young. 2, It’s local to me and I believe in supporting your local club no matter how big or small. Spalding is brilliant for new drivers, it gives you the chance to learn but also pick up a few top 3 finishes along the way due to the size of classes and the mixed ability of our club’s racers.
Before your first race what was the best advice you received and why? Enjoy it no matter if you’re 1st or 8th keep going and enjoy yourself.
What advice would you give someone looking to start racing in autograss? Go for it. It’s a brilliant sport (with) friendly people at all clubs across the country.
What has surprised you about being a racing driver and how has the whole experience been compared to what you expected? The thrill and excitement. Even in a small 1.0, it’s still exciting on the start line.
What techniques have you learnt? In our class I would say keeping tight on corners, it’s not easy to overtake on the outside. A quick start off the line in to the first corner is a massive bonus in Class 1.
Sitting in the driving seat, what noticeable differences have you found between cars and drivers? A top running Mini will always be at the front of Class 1. It’s very limited what you can do with a Class 1. I don’t really keep away from any driver or car. I do Autograss to enjoy myself and meet new people – winning races is always an awesome feeling though!
Have you got an aim to drive a certain car or a particular class in the future and why? I enjoy class one, it’s well within my budget, but the dream would be a Bennett built (BB Motorsport) Class 8.
What is your aim for 2018? Top 3 trophy at my club.
AA – Aarron Advice
Imagine I have a Nissan Micra to race. What can I not do without on this car or what should I focus my budget on? Tyres. With it being a limited class, a good set of tyres goes along way i think.
I’ve not got much budget, what can I save for another day? Fancy paint and stickers!
I should make a point of speaking to who to get started? Richard Green (RAG Racing) or Carl Seeker help me a lot.
What is the best track to race on and why? I’ve not visited many clubs, but I enjoy Scunny a lot. It’s always busy.
I should focus on running well at one or two tracks or race anywhere possible? I go to as many clubs as I can and enjoy racing. If a local club is rained off I’m always willing to travel. I went to Yorkshire Dales last year. It ended badly for me though – four car pile up on the third bend.
I’m going to love racing in autograss because….. the people, the thrill, the burger vans at all clubs!
Aaron in charge
As a recent rookie, what (if anything) do you think the sport needs to do to help rookies learn, practice and integrate with the existing members? I think most clubs are welcoming, friendly and helpful. No need for any newbie to worry. Come and join in.
The marshals are drawn from a relatively small pool of people. How do you think clubs can encourage new marshals and/or more drivers to take a turn? Without marshals you obviously can’t go racing. The clubs I race at are brilliant for marshals, my local club sometimes struggle but drivers pull together because we all want to race.
Are you happy with orange cone markers and the penalties that come from hitting them or is there a better solution or deterrant for hitting them? It’s maybe one of the better options orange cones so no damage gets done. But I’m awful for hitting them so I don’t like the green flag rule!
The use of a TV camera to review controversial moves instead of relying on marshals is a good or a bad thing. Discuss. Marshals make the final decision for me, they got a job and we should respect it.
There are many classes in autograss. Anything you would drop, merge or add? For me I would mix men and women classes. The lady’s who do race in mens already show its a good thing to do.
Would you like to see new technologies added like hybrids or go in the other direction of say a standard spec saloon? Keep it as it is.
Social media is big in the 21st century. What would you change from the current offerings to help spread the word? GrassChat does a brillaint job. Search for it on Facebook. Well worth the follow and Russ is a brilliant person – very nice and got time for anyone. [Matt – GrassChat is definitely worth following for all those wanting to keep up to date on all things autograss related].
You are in charge of the Fastest Man on Grass and you have a budget to put a star in an autograss car. Who would you put in? Lewis Hamilton. [Matt – I don’t think Sturton quite have the budget for that!]
Autosport decides to run a feature on Autograss before the NEC show. Which car would you put on the front cover to show autograss at its best and why? For me I would put Phil Cooper, the championships he has won, and the success surely shows what can be achieved in this sport