It's time to get off the couch and race!

Steve Levin

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For those of you who are thinking "I'd love to race" -- it's that time of year!

Get off the couch, get your paperwork ready, and attend SCCA driver's school! You can get some great deals on renting a racecar for the driver's school because of the economy in general.

go to http://www.scca.com for details...

Steve :)
 

airmenair

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Sounds very good right now seeing that I'm stuck at work in front of computer. I meant to get into autocross in the Fall but had my time eaten up by school and work. I think when I graduate this spring and have both money to spend and time to burn I'll do something like this. I really want to do some amateur autocross soon.
 

BlaRo

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Back in high school I was going to get my SCCA competition license for my senior project, but it would have cost $9,000 for all the various rentals and track fees. I'm definitely considering getting it at some point, however.
 

Jay

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Steve, I am going to be attending the SSCA nationals at Elkhart this year, I better see you there racing! :D
 

Dogbert

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My region's banquet is this Saturday. :D

Time to race around parking lots (or, in the case of Nats this year, airfields). Admittedly, if I were gonna do any road racing, it'd be NASA's Spec Focus, though. SM is too expensive.
 
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TBoneUs

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MMM, AutoX season starts again Sunday, Yeah!!!

And for all you lazy bums go join the SCCA/similar organization and have some fun.
 

MadCat360

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My region's banquet is this Saturday. :D

Time to race around parking lots (or, in the case of Nats this year, airfields). Admittedly, if I were gonna do any road racing, it'd be NASA's Spec Focus, though. SM is too expensive.

SM is expensive because of the ladder. Everyone wants to get that scholarship. It's not uncommon for people to spend 50 grand in a season.

Spec E30 is where it's at. Nice "new" class, and in some regions faster than SM. But if you're on a budget (Spec E30 is about 15-20k per season if you hire a team, which most people have to do), Formula First is the place to be. That's just about as cheap as road racing gets. You can figure about 10-15 grand per season if you hire a team and have it trailered. But Formula First is easy enough to trailer, and if you DIY your costs will go down to about 6 to 8 grand if nothing explodes too bad. Lots of talent there, too. Guys that've been racing a long time.

But, Formula racing is not the best thing to do in America. In America we sure love our tin tops.
 

Steve Levin

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You definitely have to see what is racing in your area when you decide on a class.

For me, the racing is the big thing. So having 25-40 car fields is a big thing. So around here, neither Spec Focus nor Spec E30 are very interesting since you rarely see even 10 car fields.

I also wanted to be in a class where I knew I wouldn't be getting outspent. That's why a sealed class (as compared to 'spec') was interesting. And I wanted a car that would have low labor costs to repair since I wouldn't be maintaining the car myself. That ruled out unibody cars, since any serious shunt basically totals the car and requires a ton of labor to put all your parts onto a new "shell."

Steve
 

Dogbert

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SM is expensive because of the ladder. Everyone wants to get that scholarship. It's not uncommon for people to spend 50 grand in a season.

Spec E30 is where it's at. Nice "new" class, and in some regions faster than SM. But if you're on a budget (Spec E30 is about 15-20k per season if you hire a team, which most people have to do), Formula First is the place to be. That's just about as cheap as road racing gets. You can figure about 10-15 grand per season if you hire a team and have it trailered. But Formula First is easy enough to trailer, and if you DIY your costs will go down to about 6 to 8 grand if nothing explodes too bad. Lots of talent there, too. Guys that've been racing a long time.

But, Formula racing is not the best thing to do in America. In America we sure love our tin tops.
I've read that Spec Focus is like 10k per season, or something ridiculous like that. I know on the Spec Focus forums, a car fully prepped by the guys-who-prep-Spec-Focus-cars-company was going for 9k. Plus, SCCA seems to have caught the Steward's Syndrome bug from F1. At any rate, I'm prepping the 240 for doing some Redline: Time Attack events this year.

What's this Formula First you speak of?
 
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MadCat360

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What's this Formula First you speak of?

Just about the best class ever invented, in my opinion. The old Formula Vee cars were getting too expensive to repair since "good" Bug parts (ie, not made in Mexico) are hard to come by and are expensive. Formula First updates an older (even vintage) Formula Vee into a 1600 motor, disk-braked, race-wheel chassis, and reduces repair/maintenance costs a lot by doing so. In 2009, FST is now a national class and is quickly growing. The cars themselves cost a tiny bit more (maybe a grand or two) than a standard FV, but are a lot quicker (about 140MPH and 60 HP instead of 45), stop better, have more feel and are cheaper to service. Here's a site: http://www.formula-first.org/

Just so you know, a prepped car is not the same as a supported one. Usually you have to buy a prepped car (say 8 or 9 grand) then pay a team per event for the services you need. Most plans are customizable. For instance most guys I talk to will do telemetry, in-car video, trackside service, tires, fuel, and towing (flat rate plus mileage). The average cost for something like Spec Miata or E30 or Spec Racer Ford is about 20-25K for a 12 race season with full perks. Pretty much "prepped" is a buzz word for "certified" unless the car is brand new. Prep cars are good because you can be assured logbooks and clean parts. The best way to figure out what class to race is to simply go to an event (make sure you go to both SCCA and NASA to see which crowd you like; this is a family affair) and just talk to everyone. I mean it. Everyone. Go down car by car and have a 5-minute chat with at least one person per tent. Then you can make your ultra-informed decision. :)

@Steve, I hear ya. Spec Racer Ford is like my dream class (I want to race prototypes). Unfortunately, the cars themselves are too pricey for a college kid to afford. But, that might be set off by maintenance costs. I have no idea. I hear a lot of conflicting views on it. SF SRF fields are definitely huge, though, and that appeals to me. But, and I mean no offense by this, I have a slight aversion to SCCA. I've been to a few SCCA and NASA events and I like the NASA crowd more for some reason.
 
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TBoneUs

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I wish racing wasn't so darn expensive :( I'd love to get into that!

Sure wheel to wheel is expensive, but autox is relatively cheep, especially if you are just doing it to have fun. I stay moderately competitive in street tire (damn you mini's that make GS unwindable) on a college kids budget. Just get out and do it, though I dont think you will have any events for a while as you live in Anchorage.
 

Steve Levin

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One thing to keep in mind, when people talk about the costs to run a year, is that the way of calculating that can be highly variable, so while one person might say "it costs $3,000 per year to run" and another says "it costs $20,000 per year to run" you can easily be talking about the same class of car.

Some of the different accounting variables are (and for each person, they factor differently):

-- First, what I'd call "Lifestyle":

* Doing your own work (i.e., labor costs are effectively $0.00/hr)
* Doing your own towing (i.e., are you factoring in the cost of a tow vehicle, trailer, upkeep and storage)
* Running local events only or going far afield to run on new and different tracks
* "Roughing it" sleeping in a van at the track or getting a hotel room
* Trackside support (doing it yourself, or having a shop maintain your car)

-- Secondly, what I'd call "competitiveness" or "edge":

* How competitive do you want to be?
* are you happy just competing where your speed falls, or do you care about being "out spent for speed"?
* probably some others in here, but you get the idea.

But what I'm saying is, take any class, and make the decision to have your car maintained by a shop (what's known as "arrive and drive" -- you arrive at the track, drive, and then go home at the end of the event), decide you want to be at the pointy end of the field, and that you won't spare expenses (i.e., be out-spent) and you will find yourself spending a lot more money than someone who is content to drive mid-pack ina safe but not very fast car, and who doesn't care that he spent the race behind someone who drove like crud but could afford a fresh blueprinted engine that had just enough more power that he could keep you behind him -- and racing can be inexpensive.

And again, those two scenarios can and do exist in the same class.

Even in SRF there are lots of people that run engines for 6 or 7 years and use tires for 6 or 7 weekends. There are others that pull engines every 2 years and only race on tires for say 2 qualifiers and 2 races and then they become "test" tires. And of course there are lots of folks in the middle, like me. :)

So you definitely have to make sure you look at the costs in a given class for the type of racing you as an individual want to do. And you have to decide what your priorities are and what's important to you.

For me, that was:

* Arrive and Drive. (don't have a tow vehicle, tools, and more importantly the extra free time)
--- This also meant that I wanted low labor and repair costs, since I would be paing someone by the hour.
* Large fields (number of entries) in my class
--- So I would always have lots of people to race against, as I got better myself
* Reasonable running costs (cost of engines, tires, gearboxes)
--- to help keep costs down
* I didn't want to be easily outspent on money for speed. (admittedly, it always happens, but I wanted to minimize the effect)
* up front purchase costs had to be reasonable but not bottom dollar cheap (I spent $15,000 on a very nice car that was ready to race)
* I had no existing track day car that I was converting, so there was no existing investment.

But there's no doubt different people have different situations. And I would always say "better to be racing at the back of a XYZ field than sitting on the couch." :)

You do want to understand the costs though, and you may find that some of the seemingly "cheaper" classes don't actually translate to cheaper when you get the accounting equal.

Steve
 

JakeRadden

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I would, but I'm poor : (.
That won't change anytime soon, what with college and stuff.
Maybe in a few years...
I do get to drive a SpecMiata at an SCCA autocross as a guest driver later this year, which will be fun.
 

MadCat360

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I do get to drive a SpecMiata at an SCCA autocross as a guest driver later this year, which will be fun.

My thoughts are completely in line with this guy:



The Bottom Level of the Pyramid of Speed

Street Racers:


These are the yahoos that you see trying to do smoky burnouts on city streets. They look around for deserted industrial areas so they can "Race" each other in a straight line. They think NOS is cool. They think "Fast and Furious" is a shoe-in for an Oscar, both for best picture, best actor, and best documentary. They post on various Internet BBS boards short stories talking about their "Kills", where they went 0-60 faster than some other car on busy city streets.

Favorite type of woman: Any sixteen year old female who hangs out at those Import car shows and will show some skin, never mind that her skin is pimply.

Favorite Magazine: Import Tuner. Sport Compact Car. Turbo Digest. NOS World.


Level 2 of the Pyramid of Speed


Freeway Racers:


Next to the bottom are these guys. They frown upon Street Racers, thinking that Street Racers are 0-80 mph wimps. Instead, Freeway Racers think that they are cool, as they go 120+ mph and weave in and out of traffic on the highway like a bunch of morons on crystal meth. The problem is that these boneheads have spent money to make their car a little faster and a little noisier than usual, but they forgot one thing: they are going at dangerously high speeds and they have itty bitty front brakes, small rear drum brakes, and they have never attended a go-fast driving school. They forgot the Stop-Fast parts when they modified their cars. Not good when Sally Homemaker in her 6000 lbs SUV makes a lane change at 55 mph without signaling and without looking for cars coming up on her at triple digit speeds. They post on various BBS boards about their "Kills", where they passed some guy driving a more expensive car at 110 mph, saying that they knew that "Name_your_Car" drivers can't drive worth a crap.

Favorite type of woman: Any female that is impressed by them driving 100 mph with a beer in their hand, a joint in the other, and no seat belt on. Needless to say, these guys are usually dateless.

Favorite magazine: High Times. Mad Magazine.


Level 3 of the Pyramid of Speed

1/4 Mile Drag Racers


Next up are the 1/4 mile drag racers. These guys are at least smart enough to take their cars to a formal race track where there are rules, safety regulations, and ambulances for when they crash because they can't figure out how to drive in a straight line. They look down upon the Freeway "Racers" and Street "Racers" as a bunch of immature folks who don't have enough sense to take their need for speed to their local 1/4 mile drag strip. Instead, these 1/4 mile geeks spend their life trying to break the 12 second barrier in their souped up street cars. Sometimes they might even get four runs in a day, and at 13 seconds a run, this means they spent the whole day at the track for 52 seconds of "racing" fun. Kinda like spending $200 on a dinner date, and having premature ejaculation at the dinner table.

Favorite type of woman: Any female that has teeth.

Favorite magazine: Hot Rod, Car Craft, Hemi World.



Level 4 of the Pyramid of Speed

Autocrossers


Next, we have the autocrossers, a special breed among themselves. They frown on the illegal freeway and street racers as wreckless morons. They laugh at the 1/4 mile Drag Racers, as those goons can only go fast in a straight line. Hell, you can probably get a monkey or an 90 year old grandmother than can stomp on the gas and make three shifts in 12 seconds without crashing. Reaction speed of drag racers on the start? Shit....reaction speed to autocrossers is learning a 15 turn autocross course the first time by driving out there and not hitting any freaking cones, and making some dramatic left-right-left turns without spinning out (despite the fact that they are going at a blazing 35 mph!)

Favorite type of woman: A female who has the whole day to burn, and can stand a safety cone upright, as they sucker them into being cone-corner workers.

Favorite magazine: The SCCA's SportsCar magazine and the SCCA FastTrack, so they can obey the Rule Nazi's and read and interpret drivel such as this. These guys actually like reading a book of rules about how to go around cones at 35 mph!




Level 5 of the Pyramid of Speed

Time Trialers


Next, we have the Time Trialers, meaning the people that who take their car to road racing courses. Also known as "lapping days". These people are thrown on a road racing track with about 20 other cars, and they are only allowed to pass in the straightaways. They look down upon the illegal Street "Racers" and Freeway "Racers" for obvious reasons. They laugh at the drag racers who can only go in the straight line. They shake their head at the autocrossers, as why would someone want to spend all day in a parking lot to do five runs on a 15 turn course lined with safety cones, and each run only lasts 60 seconds and you never get out of 2nd gear? Hell, at at Time Trial event or lapping day, you may get 60+ laps around a world famous road course, which is 30 times more "seat time" than you get in autocrossing! Plus, in autocrossing, they may disallow your time because your tire is a quarter inch too wide, or you put a different brake pad on, or your springs on your car are a half inch too low. Autocross is racing, but racing Taliban-style, with 1000's of rules of what you can do or not do.

Favorite type of woman: Females who think that their man is a "Racer", since his car actually made it to the pavement of a race track. Never mind that the dude spun his car four times in one day and got dust all over the interior of the car. She is convinced that she dates "Macho Racer".

Favorite Magazine: Road and Track, Car and Driver, Automobile, Motor Trend.



The Top Level of the Pyramid of Speed

Wheel-to-Wheel Racers

The Wheel-to-Wheel racers are at the top of the pyramid. They have big heads, big egos, they think they are cool, and they can be tremendously condescending. Some even have the gall to have their own website touting their latest "racing adventures". They think Street Racers are ricockulous, and that the Fast and The Furious is the second stupidest movie they ever seen, with Driven being the stupidest. Freeway racers are viewed as unskilled morons, but Wheel-to-Wheel racers have been known to occasionally "bait" the Freeway Racers into following them through an offramp at triple digits speeds, and when the Freeway Racer suddenly realizes that he can't control his car that fast in a turn, the Freeway Racer panics, hits the brakes hard while turning, and ends up spinning and crashing into the guard rail, while the Wheel-to-Wheel racer looks in his rear view mirror, and calmly puts another mark on his dashboard, keeping score of "reverse-kills". 1/4 Mile Drag racers are viewed as unskilled folks who can only shift up, and cannot figure out how to master a proper heel-and-toe downshift without grinding the tranny.

Autocrossers are viewed as crossdressers who think that danger and excitement is narrowly missing a plastic safety cone by two inches at 35 mph, and live by a rule book about their car specs that is bigger than the Bible. There is a lot of risk and danger in autocrossing.....hell, if you screw up, you could end up with a couple of plastic safety cones tangled up in your front grill. Does Michael Schumacher autocross? Would he ever spend time dodging safety cones? Did Kimi Raikonen make it to Formula One as a nineteen year old by driving solo in a parking lot? Hell no, Kimi made the leap to Formula One because he was the karting champ of Finland, doing wheel-to-wheel shifter karts, not by driving around stationary cones. If autocross was really exciting, you would see the Cone Dodger's National Championships on ESPN or Speedvision. But no use having an autocross on TV because, uh...quite frankly, no one cares.....

Time trialers are viewed as chumps that can't figure out how to control their car well enough to maneuver in between two other cars at 100 mph in a turn without causing a three car wreck. For it is only the Wheel-To-Wheel racer that put their car within inches of an apex at 110 mph, can brake within inches of their target braking point at 140 mph at the last possible instant without locking up the brakes into ABS or flat spotting tires, that can be within inches of another car's door going into a 100+ mph turn and fighting for position on the pavement, and can control understeer or oversteer with the pedal to the metal coming out of an apex and using the last inch of pavement exiting out of a turn to keep the car from spinning off into the dirt or into surrounding cement walls. If a wheel-to-wheel racer makes a mistake, his car will probably be severely wrecked, other cars could be wrecked, and he could potentially take out half the cars entered in the event with him going into Turn 1 at the start of a race.

Favorite type of women: Hot, sexy women who know that all the other "racers" in the lower levels of the Pyramid of Speed are all really just "wanna-be-wheel-to-wheel racers". A woman with a good stock portfolio is highly desirable, because Wheel-to-Wheel racing is ahhh.....about five times more expensive than any other level on the Pyramid, as your car will break down more, the parts you need to go fast are more expensive, you blow through rear tires every weekend, you probably have to have a truck and trailer to tow the car, you need an extensive pit crew help to keep the car running that that you over modified in your thermonuclear war with other people to get to the top of the podium.

Favorite Magazine: Autoweek, as each week they have in depth coverage of the only true sport left in the world, which is Formula One wheel-to-wheel racing. Everything else in life is just a game......

Do what you do, but know that you could be doing it a thousand times better, more exciting, and for just about the same money in karts or what have you.
 
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