View Full Version : Best Way to get into racing?

Joel Simmons
03-15-2006, 08:37 PM
Hello all,

I've always had an interest (okay an obsession) with wanting to get into racing. What's the best way to do it without going broke just trying to get a license?

I've looked into the Skip Barber school here at Laguna Seca, and it looks awesome, but there's no way I can afford the fees. I suppose it's just something I'll have to do once I'm retired or something.

Should I join a club? I know some guys who are members of the Porsche Club of America, and their organization seems to go nuts over getting their people into and qualified for racing their cars. Is there a car club that helps LBC owners achieve the same ends?


03-15-2006, 08:47 PM
SCCA is the cheapest way into racing.
We considered everything else.

1)Safety Equipment
2)You need 2 SCCA schools @ $250 ea.
3)You can buy a SCCA eligible car for as little as $2000
4)You don't have to tow your car to BFE like the vintage guys
5)Don't race a car you can't walk away from.
6)Consider that some of the vintage cars you may be racing against are worth more than your house (if you're thinking about vintage)

03-15-2006, 09:03 PM
So with that as a given, let's go a bit further what's likely to be the best choice vehicle for a beginner? Let's say cheap to buy and still somewhat in-class competitive.

03-15-2006, 09:19 PM
I like rear wheel drive...
I have seen too many bad days for people in open wheelers...

I like the Pinto but it is not competitive
I like the B210 except it is getting more expensive.
The BMW 2002 is also a good choice & probably my recommendation.

Think about towing, gas, entry fees, reliability and replacement parts rather than cool car.....That comes later.

Joel Simmons
03-16-2006, 12:46 AM
Well, I have a 65 Sprite that can only get prettier from the condition I bought it in. I wouldn't mind turning it into a racecar someday down the road.

SCCA sounds like the way to do it. Thanks Elva.


Joel Simmons
03-16-2006, 12:49 AM
By the way...I really like the BMW 2002, but even those are getting stupid expensive. I almost bought one before I bought the Sprite. The guy wanted $2500 for a car that practically had a lawn chair as the driver's seat.

A nice one will easily draw $6000+. That may not be a ton of cash to some of you, but I'm just out of college and operating on a military budget.

So if anyone would like to make donations...

03-16-2006, 02:02 AM
How about a 1984 Alfa Romeo Spider? Is that even considered vintage yet? I know I can do Solo-1 or 2. That's all I'm even thinking about right now... me and the cones.

03-16-2006, 06:53 AM
Buy a car that has already been race prepared and has a log book.
It will end up costing you more to build one yourself, in most cases.

Many people recommend you try Auto-X for a year or two.
There are a great number of things that will help you w/ road racing. (and it is cheaper)

The average price for a Pinto is $2,500... Ready to go.
Yea its not pretty....but can be tuned to handle very well.

My average race weekend costs...........
$ 200.00.........................Tires & brakes
$ 200.00.........................Entry fees
$ 150.00.........................Gas for car & toe vehicle
(That's if I'm really Lucky & don't break anything, sleep in the truck & pack a lunch)

03-16-2006, 09:48 AM
You can do "Track Day" events too. Some of these will simply give "seat time" at a track...others are in Time Trial format, where's actual lap times are taken for trophies. You can usually use an ordinary, stock, street car for these events (no race tires, cage or anything like that).
And you could look at Autocross as well.

If you decide to get involved in wheel-to-wheel racing, I'd choose a "diposable" car and not high-value classic (as was already mentioned above...."a car you can walk away from" is good advise).
Probably the best choice (in my view) is a Neon. Cheap, excellent handling, easy to get speed parts and great power. You can pick up a decent, stock "runner" Neon suitable for racing for $500 to $1000. Belts, a cage and decent tires can be gotten for $1000 if you shop carefully. Or you can find a ready-to-go racer for roughly the same price. Civics are a bit more costly, but are also pretty good.
Your local SCCA is a good place to start.
I advise that you start out by flagging and working events before taking the plunge....working as a volunteer on a race can be a real eye-opener to potential racers.

03-17-2006, 11:13 PM
Actually vintage racing is much cheapern than the scca. At least that is my view. 4 or 5 grand and you can be racing .

03-18-2006, 03:52 AM
I'm going to try to start solo racing in about ten days (the next event). I don't mind driving my car hard on occassion, but would never race it "wheel to wheel". I would though second the Neon advice, there seems to be quite a few of those racing and doing pretty well.

03-18-2006, 05:51 AM
A lot of people I've raced with over the years started with Autocross. I heartily agree with Nial that working corners will give you a better perspective on just what you may be getting into.
Some open track days may open your eyes as to what it feels like to actually drive on the track at some semblance of speed, and I've seen people either wholeheartedly jump into racing after a few, or decide that it isn't their cup of tea and walk away from it.
All three of these options are relatively inexpensive. It's much cheaper to start like this, than buy or build a car, go through the schools, and then find out you don't like it.
I've had people drop out of drivers school because it just wasn't what they expected.

03-18-2006, 12:13 PM
I've seen fellas who should just put a TAG on their cars and drive on the street exclusively, too. Thankfully, the instructors generally sort 'em out.

03-18-2006, 01:34 PM
SCCA autocrossing (SOLO) fer sure. You can drive whatever you currently own and get experience and suggestions for nearly nothing. If the bug really bites you, there is built in networking to move to the next level.

Drive it like you stole it!

Joel Simmons
03-20-2006, 11:03 PM
Well, I'd love to volunteer to work corners or something like that when I get the time, and hopefully my next PCS allows that. However, I did grow up going to the racetrack every chance I got (Portland Int'l Raceway). When I was growing up, one of my Dad's good friends campaigned a '68 (or was it '69?) Corvette with the L88 engine in it. I always got to hang around in the pits and do odds and ends here and there. Plus, I've taken a few hot laps around Laguna Seca with the local Porsche club whenever they're offering it at an event. I gotta say 911's are quite fast automobiles. I sure feel like a certified racing wackjob.

Jollyroger - why do you think Vintage is cheaper than SCCA? I wouldn't mind racing my '65 Sprite.

Nial - don't you race your Spridget and also drive it on the street? Which sanctioning body allows you to do that? That's the way I'd love to go.


Matthew E. Herd
03-21-2006, 07:53 AM
I don't really think that's feasible, Joel. You need a full cage for most road racing, and that's off-limits on the street (plus you can't put a top on it unless you're very short).

Simon TR4a
03-21-2006, 11:20 AM
In addition to the previous good advice you might find kart racing a good starting point.
My son did it for four years, and really lerarned a lot.
It is true there are more accidents because some of the younger drivers get over their heads, but generally a good bunch of people, experienced guys often willing to mentor newbies, running costs moderate in 4 stroke classes, except tyres need changing every 2-3 of weeks at $200 a set.
Just a thought, Simon.