#HistoricRacing – What about some basics ?!

What is the FIA Appendix K, and what are the basics to understanding it ? Well, yes, these are the basics to understanding historic motorsport..!

First, the FIA Appendix K is nothing very new, it’s been around historic motorsport since the late seventies, early eighties, when historic motorsport started taking off and that more and more cars were being put back on the tracks after a brief retirement from modern racing. The Appendix K was thought so “Historic Cars may be used for Competitions under a set of rules that preserve the specifications of their period and prevent modifications of performance and behaviour which arise through the application of modern technology” as it is said in the Article 1 of that “blue book”.

Another interesting fact which is a testimony to the spirit of historic motorsport is another sentence from that same article, “Historic Competition is not simply another formula in which to acquire trophies, it is a discipline apart, in which one of the essential ingredients is a devotion to the cars and to their history” and more is to come with “Historic Motor Sport enables the active celebration of the History of the Motor Car”.

Having said all that, it might sound strange in a modern Historic Motor Sport world, but yes, Appendix K is the guideline and guardian to the history of the sport in a way. The Appendix K also says that it applies to cars either original or cars built to the exact same specification as models with international competition history complying with the International rules of the period. Appendix K does today apply to the FIA Historic Championship, of course, but also to almost any cars that applies for an FIA Historic Technical Passport, the graal you need to obtain if you wish to take part in historic international events.

So yes, what are the basics to getting the Appendix K in situ ? How should the rule book be read by an enthusiast or preparer building a car to the needs of its wealthy owner or more simply, by a young man interested in getting into the historic sport ?

Well, it’s no secret that Appendix K is not simple but as any technical regulations, it cannot be simple as it tries to take every aspect into account and by doing so, some are more or less explained but if you’ve read the article and understood the beginning of it, that’s a good start !

Then there is a sort of ladder to understand how Appendix K work. It doesn’t work on its own as it’s in situ the Appendix K to the International Sporting Code which is the ruling code for any international motorsport category and event. It is also linked to the Appendix L which rules the basic licensing system and safety devices valid for the actual sport as well as the Appendix J which defines motorsport and all basic technical ruling for the recognized competitions and categories.

As we are talking about Historic Motor Sport, the exact ladder to understanding the rules and their application is the following:

  • The FIA International Sporting Code known as the “ISC”
  • The FIA Appendix K for Historic Motor Sport
  • The Period Appendix J
  • The Period FIA Homologation
  • The Period Specification

The ISC rules all form of  motor sport, international as well as national and that since the FIA exist, they are the sporting rules to the sport, what stewards do apply once sitting in their room and handling the decisions, on a national basis or depending of the championship, all or part of it is applied.

Then comes the FIA Appendix K for Historic Motor Sport which is the ruling en vigueur for all Historic FIA Championship and categories willing to stick to its principle. Although it is not mandatory, it is highly recommended as it serves the principle of preserving history with the best of period as well as bringing modern safety standards into the historic sport like the ROPS or autorisation to use a certain replacement when a caliper is no longer available for example.

After, we have the period Appendix Js, cars and parts were homologated but not everything had to be because that was written and defined in the period Appendix J or what looked like a yellow book called the “Year Book of Automobile Sport”. It still exist today and it’s just a set of rules which applies to all categories, back in the days it was about Group 4, 5, 6 or 7 as well as many others and today it’s about Formula E, S2000, WRC, etc… But let’s explain its understanding, not easy as there are other aspects coming in. For example when the rulebook said “injection is free” that has to be interpreted nowadays like “injection is free providing you can prove it was used in period on that car and document it”, it’s as simple as that and of course, it doesn’t mean you can today put an electronic injection system on a BMW 3.0 CSL !

And here we go with Period FIA Homologation. These are the forms registered in period for what were the “homologated cars” and they detail the basic of any homologated vehicle, engine, transmission, bodywork, etc… of the road-going version and then of course the “variant option” that were developed in period within the regulations and for competition like let’s say the 24-valves head for the BMW 3.0 CSL which was homologated as an option by BMW to challenge the Cologne Capris in period. These are available for many cars when homologated as GT, Group 1, Group 2, Group 4 and the list goes on as categories did evolve or were simply outlawed throughout the years.

Then comes the Period Specification which are the details of the car in situ, how the car actually ran at a certain event during a certain year. Basically, it could be said that looking at an homologation form, you could pick the best set of brakes, the best head and engine displacement as well as the widest track, in conclusion, this would be “cherry picking” to make the best car out of the whole homologated items but which would not conform to history. But no… Period specifications are not about cherry picking, Historic Motor Sport and building a car to do so is about replicating a car which ran at a certain point, at a certain circuit and during a certain year. It is not about using a list which is the result of 10 years of development for a model by a factory and putting the best bits together, no, it has to replicate what history was at a certain point. And that applies to the “non-homologated” cars such as the Group 5 and Group 6 or even wilder Group 7 but for that you’ll solely rely on period pictures and manufacturers documentation as well as acknowledged fact such as knowing that the Porsche 917 was never equipped with a Flat-6…

But all in all, it’s also about personal knowledge like knowing that in 1975 a special bulletin was published by the FIA regarding Group 2 cars and outlawing a number of “variant option” for a number of cars on a safety basis and all that resulted in one of motorsport biggest turn around, the 1976 Appendix J. It’s in situ, the reason why cars such as the Cologne Capri were outlawed and CSLs had to drop the 24-valves M49 engine as well as their 5-speed gearbox. And that’s just one example..!

So here we are, if you’ve understood all that, now you have the basics to understanding historic motorsport and let’s say the way to your Historic Technical Passport, you know, that complicated set of papers that everybody is talking about..! Well, we’ll get back to that in another article, maybe.. But anyway, the thing to remember about Appendix K is that it exist to ensure one particular aspect as well, a level playing field. If Appendix K didn’t exist or is not applied, it becomes modern racing with cars that tend to look historic.

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