Does auto racing need to be cheaper?
Let me first say that the goal of people should not be to make auto racing cheaper so more people can afford to do it. That is a waste of time. If people want to make something cheaper, let’s concentrate on health care costs or the general cost of living. These are things that will make a difference in society. That is where cost cutting will make a difference. I keep hearing people complain about the cost of racing going up and that we need rules to keep the cost down. All these rules do is increase costs by forcing the people with the money to spend more to get around the rules; further escalating the costs. Cost saving rules cost everyone more money or more time and headaches policing this increase in rules. Now all that being said, let’s sit down and talk about ways to go racing with the money you have to spend. There is a way. Don’t be discouraged! If someone wants to race bad enough they will find a way.
Type of auto racing for everyone
The first thing that comes to mind for me is that there is a class of car for everyone. If you want to race dirt late models and support it solely on a ten dollar an hour job, you may need to rethink that. Auto racing is about the competition. I’ve seen many lower budget classes being more competitive with closer racing than the higher budget classes. I read a comment made by Carl Edwards in, I think, Speedway Illustrated magazine. I’ll paraphrase because I cannot remember the exact quote,; but he said if you pull your racing operation into the pits and everything burns to the ground, and you can afford to replace it, you’re in the right class. I won’t go quite that far, because there will be a size able enough investment in even the lowest budget team to be replaced at the drop of a hat. Although I would say if you are racing on credit, you may be over your head. You don’t need to be in a class where losing a motor or bending your frame will financially keep you from racing. The biggest thing to becoming a good racer is seat time. Breaking down and not being able to fix it will seriously rob you of valuable seat time. Find a class of car you can be competitive within your means.
Another way to race on a budget is to buy used instead of new. The used race car market is flooded with cars and parts being sold for as little as ten to fifteen cents on the dollar. Many people want new every year and are willing to sell their used stuff fairly cheap. One word of caution here is to really research and inspect what you are buying. There are a lot of people out there selling their junk that will just cause problems for you in the future. Do your homework on what your buying. Another aspect to think about is the support you will get with a used car you are buying. Is the car way too old and out dated? Is the chassis builder willing to help someone who didn’t buy the car directly from them, or will they just tell you to buy a new one when you call up for advice. When looking at a car call the builder before hand and talk to them about the car. They will surely be able to tell you about that type of car if not about that specific car.
The same holds true for buying parts. Call your chassis builder to see if particular parts will fit on their car. There is such an array of aftermarket parts out there and not all of them are designed to work on every car. If you call a chassis builder for help on an ill handling car, and the wrong front end parts are bolted on there, he’ll pull his hair out trying to solve your problems.
Buying used motors can be another can of worms all together. Motors can be all sealed up with fresh paint and shinny valve covers and be junk inside. I would suggest buying used motors only from people you know and trust. I know too many people that got burned on buying a used motor from people they don’t know.
Grind it out and do it your self
The most evident way to go auto racing on a budget is to do most of the work yourself. Learn how to weld and fabricate. Learn about motors and start doing some of your own assembly work. Develop your scope of work you can do on your own. Not everyone is good at everything, but everyone will have some skills that will save them some money. I do have to caution not to get to far over your head. The cost saved on assembling you own motor will get eaten up pretty fast if you melt three of them down with mistake being made in assembly. Start slow and hone your skills. There is nothing that you can’t learn to do yourself.
Although the cost of racing seems to still be climbing, running on a budget doesn’t mean you won’t be competitive. Carefully building you team, wise buying , and putting in a little sweat equity will go a long way to help in cutting costs. There are ways to do it if you really want it bad enough.
Till next time, be fast and safe!