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If you want to be competitive and money is *any* object, pick a class and buy a proven used car from that class.

If you just follow your dreams and build "a race car", you'll certainly end up in a power-to-weight class and with how light these cars are, you'll easily end up in the best power to weight prepared/unlimited class. That's fine, except that those classes require an extremely modified wallet as well.
 

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I bought salvage elise for under 7k after selling all extras end up being close to 5k. it was 2 year car at the time. The upgrades to make it to race car that's where you'll spend most money.
You can check out my build several years. It end up costing me about 17k. Biggest cost wheels and suspension.
Car has been worked on ever since and looks much different now, weighs just under 1700lbs. http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f163/2005-elise-extreme-makeover-64453/#/forumsite/20667/topics/64453?page=1
 
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