View Full Version : How Hard Is Racing On A Car?

04-10-2007, 07:27 PM
I'm considering taking the new MGC GTS out on the track, but my concern is that I don't really want to beat it up. I'm not talking purely cosmetics. It's a nearly pristine car but paint can be repaired. I am however concerned with the beating the suspension, chassis, engine, gearbox, brakes, etc will take.

I don't want to end up with a rattly bucket of bolts or something that is no longer nice to drive on trips. Should I stick to the street with this one and build a track car later?

The car in question: https://www.mgnuts.com/mg/mgcgts


04-10-2007, 09:27 PM
Steve, racing is HARD on a vehicle. Even a spirited track day can take its toll. A couple of years ago, my boss brought his Vette to one of our open track days, and by the end of the day he needed a full set of tires, rotors,and brake pads. I've seen a lot of nice cars driven to a track day event only to go home on a rollback due to a failure of some component. Not to mention the ones that go home in the back of a dump truck. One 328 comes to mind. Or a brand new RX8, or the Z06 with 35 miles on it.
Save that "C", and build something that you can afford to walk away from with no regrets.
Just one mans opinion, you understand.

04-10-2007, 10:07 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]build something that you can afford to walk away from with no regrets[/QUOTE]
A high mileage Yugo? /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

04-10-2007, 10:23 PM
That's a self propelled wheelbarrow, right?

04-11-2007, 05:38 AM
I absolutely agree with Jeff on this one. It is best to have a car that you can "write off" with no regrets.
When I first did track days with my Spridget, it wasn't just tires and brakes that took a beating. Unibody welds popped, alignment went crazy (due to chassis flex, I think), a steel road wheel cracked, snapped 12+ axles, leaf springs cracked, etc.

If you want to stay with Brit-cars, there are plenty of ratty Spridgets, Spitfires and MGBs that would be cheap and suitable for track-only (assuming no excess rust). And overall, it's even cheaper to just buy a ready made race car.

If you just want track time, there is even a bigger field of track only cars that are non-Brit. I've seen plenty of nice, track-only RX-7s, Hondas and Golfs in the $2000 to $5000 range.

I am building an Escort GT for our local, EMRA club racing series because they are cheap (I got three free ones in the last year), unloved and surprisingly fast. Once the Escort is finished, I'll reserve the Spridget for vintage-only.

Did you say, self-propelled wheelbarrow? How about a "grassroots" version? /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/jester.gif


04-11-2007, 06:28 AM
You can still Auto-X the thing without worrying too much.

And maybe a track day....MAYBE!

Otherwise find something disposable like this.


Hap Waldrop
04-11-2007, 07:47 AM
I have to also agree with above statements, the last thing in the world you want to do with a really nice street car is take to the track. I recently met a guy who wants to go vintage racing, this gentleman has owned nice British street cars most of his life, I don't think he had any idea of what he's getting into, and sometimes I bumm people out with the reality of track use or racing, these were the comments I said to him to shook him up. In 20+ years of road racing and well over 100 events, I can only remember one race where I didn't fix something, it was kinda scary we thought it was a omen for big time failure. My prep level is more intense than most, I used to literally spend two+ months just to prep my car for the SCCA runoffs. Almost everytime you go to the track you gonna to break something and you're going to have to fix it, that's what racing is.

Having said that, even at a track day you have to willing to come away with a broken part or sanblasting of the nose of the car at minumum, I use to paint my front air dam atleast twice a season. Steve there in no way I'm going to take my 67 GT to a track day event. If you're dying to get some track time in, go to a pro school and use their cars to trash, and keep yours safely in garage.

04-11-2007, 10:26 AM
Some friends of mine have a test for people wanting to get into vintage racing. Here it is. If your willing to pull a $100 bill out of your wallet and without hesitation, burn that $100 bill in front of them, then your ready to go racing. In a way, it mirrors what others have said about being able to walk away from your race car if it is written off. Then again, if your willing to burn a $100 bill then you might also be able to not flinch and rebuild a write off.

04-11-2007, 10:47 AM
Nial, wanna sell that wheelbarrow? I could walk away from that without TOO many regrets. /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

04-11-2007, 03:03 PM
Ask yourself if you are OK with this?.


This was a car that ran a track day event the day before we were at Summit Point.

Nial deserves credit for this pic.

04-11-2007, 04:00 PM
Nial - We should submit that to pimp my ride hehehe

I agree with all above, must be able to write it off.


04-11-2007, 06:00 PM
Yeah, Patrick.....maybe we could pimp it into a Nissan Speedster convertible /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/jester.gif

I hate to see things like that. My son-in-law is bringing his new Mustang to our first '07 TT and I think I'll send him that picture as a reminder (one of the reasons I'm building the race-Escort is so I can share it with him and get him away from using his street car at the track).

Last year we had a guy run a new Ford GT into the wall *hard* at Pocono. What do you think that cost to repair?

I saw a replica Ford GT get destroyed at the '06 Pittsburgh Vintage and even that was hard to watch.

The year before, we lost an A4 and a WRX (also at Pocono). I was following the WRX through a turn (in my Miata) when he lost it and rolled. It was raining at the time. It was a 300 HP WRX/STi. The driver looked about 19 and it was supposedly leased. The kid wasn't hurt but he couldn't stop crying.
We had a WRX so I know that a Subaru can run away from a Miata in the rain. I guess he just goofed.
That can happen to any of us....better if it happens in a $500 Escort. /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/rolleyes.gif

Hap Waldrop
04-12-2007, 06:53 AM
Here's my horror story, brand new car.

04-12-2007, 11:53 AM
OOOUUUCCCCHHHHH!!!!! /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/frown.gif

04-12-2007, 01:45 PM
Okay, after rolling my street MGA back in 69 coming down the hill at Lime Rock..
I said I would never put a street car on the track again.

Not even autocross..

So for the past 35 years I have been very happy driving my G-Production Spitfire wtih SCCA. Means a tow vehicle a trailer and more.. but certainly beats what happened to that nissan in an earlier post.

Also, another issue.. only race with "mad money"... If you start using your credit card, you'll be is so much debt so quickly, that an inflating mortgage rate will look easy.

Also, for a foot note, I was head instructor at a High Performance Track day where streeet cars were allowed on course..

Not again, to me, way too dangerous, much rather be with a bunch of racers andy day of the week... way too many wanna-be racers who left their brains at the registration desk that morning. the red mist was way to prevelant.

If you must run your street car.. just remember, how much can I afford to loose in both time and cash..

04-12-2007, 02:36 PM
Most people, and most mechanics have literally no clue about what sort of stress racing puts on a car.

When I started racing my MGA over 30 years ago, there was no real guide nor locally available expertise except a bit of transferable MGB knowledge.

I raced until it broke (usually measured in minutes of track time) and fixed it and raced it again.

After a season and a half I was getting to be a pretty decent race mechanic (I do all my own work) and the car was winning and not breaking.

If you take a car built by someone who is NOT a race mechanic out on the track, that is what you are in for. And WHEN (not if) it breaks, it can always be in a way that is destructive to the car itself. I narrowly missed trashing my car when a small lockwasher inside a rear caliper cracked, which allowed a screw to back out and fall behind a brake piston, which stayed on after I rleased the brakes and spun me backward into the Armco. It doesn't take much to cause serious damage (luckily I only lost a door and a good slice of equanimity on that one).

04-12-2007, 03:46 PM
Steve....don't let you scare you that much by the others.

Racing is good fun, sometimes a spiritual thing, a group thing you share with other racers off the track.

Okay...you spare part bills will rise....new brake pads, tires, some engine parts, maybe a whole engine if something went wrong badly.

Accidents can happen....everywhere and anytime...not only on tracks.

How much fun you will have is dependable from the group you want to race with. If you like to save the car than a more vintage biased group is the right for you. If you like to race with the knife on the edge then there are for sure other groups in USA that will serve you more.

I do race since 2004 and started with a standard daily driver and developed the car more and more. I had only one little crash where I hit a rear fender on a tire wall. My own fault but I maintain my car very well and I still use it as a daily driver but now with 60 hp more ;-)

I know there are risks to damage the car but the fun I have with racing is worth that risk and on the other hand...how long we'll might be able to drive those cars? 10 years? 20 years? Better to retire them on the track with some victories....


Hap Waldrop
04-13-2007, 06:32 AM
Bill your comments made me think of one time when my wife was hanging out with me in shop as I prepped my F-production Sprite for a national race. We got to talking about modified and uprated components and parts. She asked me if there was anything on the car that was just a stock part, all I could come up with was two engine motor mounts /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

04-13-2007, 09:36 AM
To add to my comment:
This is an example of racing I won't like to be in.....too hard driving. As a prof. racer told me....racing takes place between the two white lines.....the part outside the lines is reserved for the gardening tractor....


04-13-2007, 04:01 PM
Well, it <u>was</u> the runoffs, for the National Championship, after all.

04-13-2007, 04:37 PM
So much pace car action you call clean race? Interesting.

I've done about 16-20 races and some more practice sessions and pace car came out only once...And we have very seldom contact between cars.

As you can imagine...I'm not a fan of hard racing...that's why I don't like touring car races.

Hap Waldrop
04-13-2007, 06:19 PM
To add to my comment:
This is an example of racing I won't like to be in.....too hard driving. As a prof. racer told me....racing takes place between the two white lines.....the part outside the lines is reserved for the gardening tractor....


Well, that's the SCCA runoffs, you run all year long to just qualify to get to that race, and who ever wins that one race is the national champion, probably the most unique road racing championship in the world and one of the hardest to earn. I driven in 6 SCCA runoffs in three different classes, when it comes to amatuer road racing, these guys are the best of the best, when you drive that fast, stuff can happen. You 100% right if you don't want to let it all hang out and driver your arse off, this is not the place to be. I've ran in over 100 SCCA races, only had a few minor fender benders, won a SE championship, and I'll say this, I rather be on the track with SCCA national drivers than just about anybody. SCCA national racing is serious stuff, not for the weak of heart, but most wrecks are not caused by two fast drivers, most wrecks are caused by squirrelly slow drivers when fast driver approach, so I rather race with fast guys over slow guys anyday. I'm getting ready to build a vintage car, but I'll tell you this right now, if I get out there and it nothing but a big ole slug parade, I'll be back in SCCA. The race you linked to, I was there and saw it first hand, it is not the norm.

04-13-2007, 06:57 PM
Here Steve, here is a perfect candidate for a racer. Right price and in your area too!

https://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/AUSTIN-HE...1QQcmdZViewItem (https://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/AUSTIN-HEALY-SPRITE-1958-1959-1960-ROLLING-BODY_W0QQitemZ120106983399QQihZ002QQcategoryZ34204 QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem)

04-13-2007, 08:20 PM
That isn't a car, that's a body tub on wheels! /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

04-13-2007, 11:12 PM
SCCA national racing is serious stuff, not for the weak of heart, but most wrecks are not caused by two fast drivers, most wrecks are caused by squirrelly slow drivers when fast driver approach, so I rather race with fast guys over slow guys anyday.

From my limited track experience, to me, squirrely drivers mean unpredictable drivers. Drivers that unexpectedly move off the racing line for faster traffic 'to be nice' and get out of the way because they misjudge just how fast the faster traffic really is. Instead they usually end up in the way. The best advice I ever heard at an open track day was that when being approached by faster drivers, stay on your line and do not make sudden/twitchy movements. It was the responsibility of the passer to pass safely. Also translates to being waved by. The slower drivers tells you where he expects you to pass.

Does that sound about right?

04-13-2007, 11:12 PM
That isn't a car, that's a body tub on wheels! /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

Think of it as a starter kit. /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

04-14-2007, 02:26 AM
My very 1st licensed race as a regional SCCA racer....

I hit Joel Lipperini at turn 13 Nelson Ledges.
(as he was lapping me)
I moved out of his way....So I thought.
(He was driver's left when I put me LEFT arm up.....He hit me on the RIGH about 1/10 of a second later....WTH???)

My advice is (Like said above)
DON'T EVER CHANGE YOUR LINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just so happens, he was a good friend of the guy I bought my car off of.

I APOLOGIZED profusely and his response was.....

"Buy me a beer".....(After I put a rather large dent in his car)

(I S**t you not)


(They aren't used to it)

04-14-2007, 02:44 AM
Hey Hap,

The Porsche driver Eric is doing very well I was more confused by the other cars how often they leave the tracklane and pushing others.

But I agree with you...I don't like to parade on a track.

Chris (who take car of his car first and winning is 2nd)

Hap Waldrop
04-14-2007, 08:48 AM
Shawn, that's exactly what I teach students when I instruct a SCCA drivers school. I had a student who I could not get this thru his head, I threaten to take him off the track a day early in a three day super school at Roebling Road, he straighten up his act for the rest of the scholl and passed. Later as he went to his first races, he resorted back to his old tactics and was blag flagged at this first two races and after his thrid race they took his novice book and that was it for him. This guy was just scared to death in a race car and could not multi task while in the cockpit, he once told me during a session he did not shift gears after he reached 4th gear for the entire session, because there was too much to do to comcentrate on to be shifting. Every once in awhile you get a guy who is scared like this, I always tell people there is no shame is staing this is not for you and throwing in the towell. Another little drill I do to students is ask them if they like to double check the side mirrors in a street car before making a lane shift, most respond yes, it seems like the right answer, I have to admit this is a trick question on my part. I tell them if they can't make quick decisions and trust their judgment then racing might not be for them.
I always tell student that they need to make all things you do in the cockpit natural to them, doing them with no more thought than if they were scratching their nose.

04-14-2007, 08:52 AM
Hap, we occasionally have someone drop out of school when they realize that they are out of their element. I have more respect for these people than I do for the other kind, that just try to force themselves to finish with no regard for others.

04-14-2007, 10:35 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]....racing takes place between the two white lines.....[/QUOTE]

Max: If you really think that's true, take a look at Jeff's avatar! /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/jester.gif

On students: I had a time trial guys last year in a 924 that became paralyzed when he went on track. But he knew it wasn't for him and he pulled in and sat out the rest of the day. A tough decision, but I respected it.

We also get the guys in the fast V8 cars that go like a banshee on the straights and crawl through the turns like a snail. One guy in a Corvette, did the entire Pocono North in the middle of the track, because he "didn't want to get too close to the edge". He was still faster than some of the small bore cars, but only due to horsepower and NOT skill.

I think *everyone* should start racing in an underpowered small bore 4 cylinder car so they can learn about conservation of momentum. Horsepower is just a "crutch" for the unskilled. For those of us with under 80 HP, the brakes are our worst enemy!

04-14-2007, 01:40 PM
,..... when I instruct a SCCA drivers school.

As you're a instructor....I'm fiddling around with hair pins.

When I watch other racers of our group they enter from outside as you usually would do.

If I watch professionals, they enter from inside and corner tight.

I tried both....I prefer entering from the inside but I am not sure if it is faster. What I can see is that I can brake later on the inside and be more early on the throttle again but the cornering speed is lower.

What would you do?


04-14-2007, 02:34 PM

The "classic" apex setup can be seen here:


But it does not always work if there is traffic and you are tying to pass someone (or hold someone off). And keep in mind that cars behave differently: front-wheel drive cars tend to take a later apex (it's fun to sneak inside Minis and Hondas).

There is a lot of good info on this page about driving:


04-14-2007, 03:19 PM
I would describe my line as a double apex line.
First early apex with late late braking then a sharper turn and with full throttle to the 2nd apex.
From my point of view fast in....slow mid part...fast out...

Found it at Skip Barbers book... and saw it in prof. touring car races.

Hap Waldrop
04-14-2007, 09:08 PM
Well it hard to help you with the corner, not knowing it, but I'll take a stab at it. If by a hiarpin you mean a slow tight corner, well this may sound indiffernet, but get through it best way you and your car can, if it's inside so be it, out side so be it, always concentrate on good exit speed, it always better to come out with more speed than dive bomb into a corner. All bets are off in a duel, do whatever it takes without blocking to keep your opponent behind you.

Nial, the worse drivers I know alot of times are guys who start out in big high horpower cars, for the reasons you stated. For me staright speed is not nearly as fun as corner speed, I just not sensative enough to feel the differnece between 125mph and 150mph on straight, but hauling butt through the corner in a Midget, as you know, there is nothing like for the money /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

04-15-2007, 01:21 AM

Hp is a crutch.....

Wascally Wabbits....DIE-Die-die!

I'm sorry....It's the Guinness talking /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif

04-15-2007, 04:13 AM
I've add two examples where I enter early.
The mint TR 4 in front of me has about 15-20 hp more....



Am I doing right?
Can I do better?

04-15-2007, 02:55 PM

Hp is a crutch.....

Wascally Wabbits....DIE-Die-die!

I'm sorry....It's the Guinness talking /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif

The Guinness doesn't lie. /bcforum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

Hap Waldrop
04-16-2007, 06:17 AM
Marx, in the first video your line defintely let you carry more speed thru the corner and on exit, but don't give up on the inside line, you could use that one for passing or defending your position. That MGB GT driver was a bit squirrely, glad to see you got by him without incident.

04-16-2007, 07:25 AM
The MGB GT action was planned. I supposed him to shut the door and wanted to scare him a little with squeeking wheels ;-)

If he would have let the door open I could have slip through.

I liked the situation and his hectic waving after that corner to let me pass...

The lines aren't mine invention they are taken from modern racing series but what I can say is that they are easy to drive with.

Simon TR4a
04-17-2007, 10:25 AM
I have only done Solo 1, no wheel to wheel racing, but I have found that a car prepared to "fast road" as opposed to full race tune can be reasonably inexpensive to run, if you don't drive like an idiot.

By the last comment I am referring to watching your rev counter, using the clutch when you shift, not doing burnouts when you take off, or otherwise abusing the car by showing off.

My TR4a has modest power output, stock crank and pistons, so I limited myself to 5500rpm. The car was fairly easy on brakes and tyres, (mostly because it did not go very fast!), at least 10 events (10 days at the track, about 150kms or 100 miles each on average) on a set of brake pads, and at least that long or longer on a set of tyres.

I did "slick" the gearbox through with the clutch partly engaged when changing from 3rd to 4th, after the lever gets to neutral you can let the clutch pedal up and complete the shift at the same time.
I did use the overdrive but had no problems, even occasionally using it to bridge the gap between 2nd and 3rd, which is tough because there is more torque in the lower gears. I used the clutch when doing this, or there would be too much slip. In seven years off and on I had no failures, and only a couple of minor problems like a loose coil.

All out racing with a real race car is different, though, my comments refer only to a "street prepared" car.

04-24-2007, 11:36 AM
Yes, I agree that starting in an underpowered car means that to get anywhere you need to learn car control and make the best of handling. You either stay slow (and frustrated) or you become a smooth driver - all that sliding and darting around may look good to spectators, but it ain't the fastest way around - and you are ready for a car with more power. Drive with your mind, not your gonads. The Corvette newbies are like a golfer trying to just hit that [censored] ball as hard as they possibly can without much thought about where it may end up....

I have beaten quite a few V8 powered cars (Mustangs etc.) because they never learned to drive around corners or brake to the point of lock-up.

Passing - sometimes means thinking 2 or 3 corners ahead to plan which side you want to be on when you make your move to pass a competitor that is about the same speed as you. If you do it right, he runs out of room and you stay on the line. If you do it wrong, you are the guy backing off, and/or ending up on a slow line.

Racing lines - something they usually don't teach you in driver training is that the optimum line is speed dependent. I recall running a race with a bunch of new driving school graduates. At the first corner they dutifully all pulled to the outside of the track, taking the line they would need to take when negotiating that corner at full racing speed. Only thing was that we had just come off a standing start (not too many organisations do that any more) and were going through at lower than normal racing speed. As they pulled to the outside I just drove by them on the inside and was still within my cornering envelope at the speed I ended up doing through the corner.

Hap - you made me think about what is original on my MGA race car. The frame and centre body shell, with dash is pretty much it. Oh yeah, and the passenger side door (the driver side was ripped off against the Armco when I exitted backward at speed due to mechanical snafu)

05-06-2007, 12:39 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]Re: How Hard Is Racing On A Car? [/QUOTE]

as hard as <u>it</u> will let you be......