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So you want to Drive a Speeder » Let’s get started » What Kind of Motorcar to Buy » Insurance » Excursions

Let’s get started.

There are a few things you can do to learn more about the hobby and to get ready to operate. 
One of the first things is to join the Speeder email list.  This is a community of speeder operators who exchange email on a regular basis.  When you join the list, you'll begin to receive regular email communications about many issues.  Some will be technical, others will be news about events or people.  You'll probably want to "lurk" for awhile to get the "lay-of-the-land," but soon you'll be in there posting with the rest of us.  You'll find information http://www.narcoa.org/info/email_list.htm

You’ll want to think about joining NARCOA.  That’s the North American Railcar Operators Association.  They play an active role in providing many needed services for the motorcar hobby.  You can click here and download a PDF copy of Rulebook #5 (you'll need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader on your system. If you don’t have it, click here to download a copy).

Next, download a copy of the application for NARCOA membership.  Fill out the application, enclose your check, and mail it to the address on the form.

While you're studying the rule book, write to obtain a copy of the rules test.  This is a 25 question open rule book test to determine that you are familiar with the rules.  In order to pass, you must answer 20 of the 25 correctly.  If you fail to do so, you'll be sent another test, and you can try again. 

In order to run a car at a sanctioned excursion, you must have both a Rulebook Certification Card, and a Certificate of Insurance (more on that later).  You can obtain your certification without holding insurance, but you cannot obtain insurance without the rulebook certification.  First things first.

You get the test by sending a snail-mail, along with a long, self-addressed stamped envelope to:

                                     Al McCracken
                                     Safety and Rules Committee
                                     2916 Taper Avenue
                                     Santa Clara, CA 95051

When you get the test, sit down with Rule Book # 5, the questions and the answer sheet.  Once again, take your time.  Answer the questions carefully, and return the answer sheet along with another long, self-addressed stamped envelope to Al.  If you have answered at least 20 questions correctly, Al will mail you your certification card.  At the same time, he'll notify the NARCOA insurance administrator so that you may buy your insurance.

Hopefully by this time you will have made contact with that experienced operator we talked about earlier, and maybe you will even have had the opportunity to go for a ride or two during a sanctioned meet.  You'll have had the opportunity to view the hobby up close and personal, and to meet some of the people.  We strongly encourage you to ride with someone else, more than once, to get the feel of what riding the rails is like, and to start to learn about the various kinds of equipment.

Sanctioned meets, by the way, are the only way to ride.  So-called "bootlegging," or unsanctioned running, is illegal, and is strictly prohibited for NARCOA members, or anyone else for that matter..  Getting caught can not only get your NARCOA membership suspended.  It can also get you a date with the magistrate.  Even worse, you can find yourself in the situation where the light at the end of the tunnel really is an oncoming train.

At this point, you might want to learn a little of the history of the hobby.  Jeremy Winkworth has written a wonderful piece on the early days, and you can read it here.


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