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W2W racing is something I've thought about many times but have only recently begun to research the possibilities. I figure a thread on LT is a good place to pick the forum's racers' brains for a good approach to the racing world.

Given my personal limitations, I think I should be interested in SCCA Club Racing with the less demanding cars (in terms of time, money and safety) like F500, FF, FSCCA, etc. Open wheel is very appealing. I'm looking forward to SCCA school and membership and I recently purchased SCCA's How To book (not yet recvd though).

Some questions:
1. Where do you buy the cars. I can't seem to find more than a few on race-cars.com. Is used even a good way to go given my time limitations?

2. I enjoy car ownership, but I don't have much time or space to work on the car except some weeknights. Should I 'arrive and drive' or own? Cost is a consideration but not a big one. Any orgs that provide great So Cal support?

3. What are the fun cars/classes to be in? Are there many F500's and FF entries at So Cal races?

I'll be researching through various websites and forums so any links would be appreciated.

TIA. I'm sure other LTers will get something out of this thread.

:shift:
 

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Spec Miata!

My vote far and away and for many reasons is Spec Miata. Big fields, stone reliable cars that are cheap to fix if crunched, lots of talent and very close racing. Lap times are similar to a well driven stock Elise.

Arrive and drive is great, but Spec Miatas are so relatively cheap that you might check into buying a car and then see if you can get a shop to keep it. As I am typing this, I have a friend with a 2-11 on order that might be selling his Spec Miata.

Also, call Louis at Rush Motorsports in San Diego at 619-562-1801. Tell him David Christian suggested you call. He is a guru on Spec Miata and a great race car guy in general.

Racer mag has cars, check SCCA/NASA, etc. sites online. Keep looking, you will find what you want.

:up:
 

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wheel to wheel

I have to disagree on the miata. If you want to race and are willing to buy a car just for that reason open wheel is the way to go. FV, FST, F500, FF these are the classes to look into. These are the wingless open wheel classes. You just don't get the same experence with the miata or any other modified street car as you do with a purpose built racecar. Also I would especially stay away from Spec miata and SRF do to the popularity of arrive and drive programs within those classes. Some of the arrive and drive people (not all) should not be on a track. I believe that when you are racing a rental that you don't have to work on if you crunch it some people tend to loose IQ points while on track. When people own the car they tend to be more calculating in the risks they take. I have raced a SRF and I got out of that due to all the arrive and drive people playing smash up derby around me. Wingless open wheel is the way to go,,, just my 2 cents

Matthew
 

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Open is the most racing feel, but touching wheel to wheel is not a good idea. I just got into this after getting bored with basic HPDE stuff. I purchased the car I felt was saftest and cost effective. Miata was one of my choices, but I wanted something a little bigger and able to work on myself , parts cost ,etc. I purchased a Panoz GTRA. from a lotus race car shop friend. wirewheel.com. The cars were recently release and following is starting. the car runs in Nasa PTB, Nasa TTB, SCCA GT2( with bigger engine), PBOC is classing. I know scca GT2 is serious speed and power, but that might be the end goal.

I agree a prupose built car is the way to go, a home make or modified car will never be the same a purpose built car. THe panoz is 20-25k and the engine and tranny are basic ford mustang gt 5.0. The car can be a plaything or a serious race car. Good luck and you will see most people are biased to what they currently drive.
 

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Just about any class can be done "arrive and drive". Some of it may be through a company, some of it may be through a private individual. I just got into racing (first race was last weekend). I briefly considered SM and SRF, but after hearing all the stories about "rubbing is racing" turned me away from those groups. I just didn't feel like fixing my fenders after every race. Open wheel seemed to be the way to go as those drivers have a real aversion to touching wheels. Many people cautioned me away from getting a car with wings as a first car. A good source for info on many formula cars is www.apexspeed.com. F500 guys hang out at http://www.eformulacarnews.com/forum.php and the FV crowd hangs out at http://www.formulavee.org/. A good way to check on field sizes is to look up the regional race results from the past view races for your SCCA division. This will give you an idea of field sizes and help you to narrow down your class selection. If you have any questions about F500, send me a PM.

WARNING, cocaine is less addicting than racing and probably cheaper too!:D:D:D
 

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I've chosen arrive-and-drive for the following reasons:
1) don't have space for a race car and tow vehicle
2) I'm not a mechanic
3) my liabilty for damages is limited (on a sliding scale depending on your crash history)
4) if I do crash out, I can hop in another car and still salvage the weekend
5) I can race against kids that will be big-name drivers in the future (Skip Barber is the main feeder into Star Mazda and subsequent series)
6) cars are all of equal capabilities (theoretically)
7) instant expert feedback after every practice session and race
Disadvatages:
1) more expensive in the long term
2) no pride in ownership/ joy in tinkering factor
Also, if you try a race weekend and decide that w2w racing isn't for you you can just walk away.
Good luck, w2w racing is more addictive than crack, cooler than golf.
 

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I wanted to look this route, too, but the costs were too high for now,so I'll stick with autoxing. I have friends who run open wheel FFs and like it very much. I have other friends who run neons and civics and they, too are having fun. The entrance cost for either is around $10,000 and another $3,000 for get licensed. Then it's the costs of towing and maintaining your car.
 

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Open/Closed

If you are looking to become the best driver you can, then open wheel is the way to go. You can look into buying a vintage FF1600, a club 1600 or a more modern 1600. With a vintage car you can run both with vintage groups and with the SCCA. This gives you more places to play.

You will learn how to make changes to a car and will develop better skills. Also, becasue of the problem with wheel to wheel contact, you will be racing, generally speaking, with a more carefully prepared driver car combination.

At one time Spec Miata was cheap. It still provides great racing, but the cheap part is out the window. A competitive motor is now north of $7,000, and there seems to be a motor builder of the week. Parts are cheap with the exception of the rear quarters. Damage a front fender and it's no big deal. Damage the rear quarter and it is a bit more painful.

The problem I see with Spec Miata is the pure aggressiveness (is that a word) of the drivers. I have yet to see a complete race without serious car to car contact. Becasue it is the general perception that enrty and ongoing costs are low, you get a bunch of banzai (sp?) passes that result in car to car contact. Why do you think we call Spec Miata "Crash Miata".

My best advice would be to put together a budget, how mauch are you willing to spend per year. Then head to the track for a few weekends and talk to folks that drive cars you would consider. Most racers are more than willing to talk about there cars and race program. In no time you will have a good feel as to what you want to do.

As an aside, the cheapest racing as a function of speed/dollar is karting. This is a route that lots of folks fail to consider.

I run a Swift DB6 FF1600 with the SCCA. When I get the time I also play with a 125 shifter kart.

Tim
 

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I'm doing the skip barber 3-day racing school this summer and then doing the Lime Rock eastern region race weekend in september to see if open wheel is something i want to get into. if so maybe will buy a formula car of some kind. there's something i don't like about miata's, can't quite place my finger on it but i can't imagine a miata being as much fun as a s/c lotus or open-wheel car.
 

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I have heard the term "Wreck Miata" thrown around too. With a very limited budget this really through me off.
 

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A few years back I was in the same boat. What was the best and least expensive way to get back into racing. Last time prior to that had been in the early 70's in a clapped out TR3-B.
I had considered Spec Miata because of the relatively low costs and abundant supply of vehicles and parts.
That was untill I finally took my first SCCA drivers school. Part of the class requirement was to work one day at a corner. The corner I was assigned to had a view of almost the entire course.
Watching the Spec Miata group run was more akin to watching a demolition derby than a race. The reckless abandon of some drivers, poor training of others, and total lack of sportsmanship exhibited that day was amazing.
I cannot say what it is like in your region but you could not pay me to run in it down here.
I agree with others in that open wheel, single seat racing is as thrilling as it gets. To take it a step further, a great place to start rather than SCCA is in your regional Vintage group racing.
Becuse there is no great prize at the end, the racing tends to be slightly more relaxed, while still plenty competitive. Also, the people involved are more friendly towards their fellow drivers and willing to be helpful more so than in SCCA or NASA.
As for the equipment, cars can be found in price ranges of 5,000 and up. the more horsepower, the more money.
Formula V is the cheapest and easiest to maintain class to get into.
I've been racing in Vintage for two years now and am enjoying it thoroughly.
If you want to move up a bit the next class level would be FF1.
There are a good variety of manufacturers who made cars in this class from the late 60's to present. The cars all run on the same basic Ford/Hewland drivetrain so parts are not a problem there. Depending on which car you choose will determine availability of the other parts.
You could, with a initially well prepped car run, a season for under 5K. That covers entry fees, fuel, tires, and incidentals. Additional funding may be needed for any repairs along the way which is all part of the game, especially with the older cars.
By no means should you dismiss Vintage thinking the competition is slow or not as intense. Believe me it can be a work out and the racing can be fast and furious. The difference is that the drivers, for the most part, are less testosterone driven and more focused on safety and longevity of their vehicles and most importantly, their well being.

Sourcing a car can be tough at first but once you start looking around you'll be surprised at how many are out there. Racecars.com is a good starting point.
There are also a bunch of race dedicated forums/websites that have classified sections with cars popping up.
Timing also is an important key. Right now the race season is kicking off in most areas of the country and many of the cars that were for sale have been snatched up. Use this tme to do your homework and learn about what is out there and all that is involved with the sport. All things considered, this is not a weekend softball league or bowling team your thinking about.
Regardless of the class or level of racing you go into, racing at any level is not something to be taken lightly. At the begining a serious level of concentration, focus, and understanding will reward you with a boatload of fun times and the ability to talk about it afterwards.
Sorry for the preaching portion but I've seen the results of lacsadasical mind sets in racing first hand. Some of those are no longer here to talk about it.

Another thing to do is just like what you have done here. Ask questions, a lot!
The more you know the easier it is. If you can, hook up with someone who is already in the sport and see if you can help pit crewing. The amount of things you can learn from doing that will greatly help you when it's your turn.

Also, go to as many SCCA, NASA, or Vintage race events as you can and volunteer to do corner work. Working a corner is a great way to see what the drivers are doing and dealing with up close and personal.
It's also a lot more fun than sitting in the bleachers as many corner workers are an entertainment value in themselves. At least it's that way with our Vintage bunch.

If you have any specific questions and you want to spare the LotusTalk crew the agony of going through another long winded diatribe, email me and I'll be happy to help however I can.

Good luck with whichever course you take, and enjoy the ride!

Al B.
Team L.O.S.T.
CVAR #13 and #31
Lotus type 61 FF1
 

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The entrance cost for either is around $10,000 and another $3,000 for get licensed.
entrance cost depends on your choice of car and class.
SCCA double school is 3 days of your time, and $600, that includes a Sunday race. school was $400, the race entry fee after passing the school was $200.
they dont teach you how to race, its more they teach you the rules of the race track, flags, what to do in situations.
There is a school here in sptember in the AZ region. last year i was an instructor, and have thought about doing it again this year. if you want to come and do the school here, and have me work with you, we can talk about it privately.
SCCA offers schools usualy once per year in each of its various regions. check the website for scca. cal would obviously be the easiest for you to do.

you need to have your own reliable car(and preferably a mechanic to help work on the car while you are in the classes) to come and do the school in.

this is the route i went. the SCCA license is accepted by all other clubs, it doesnt work that way for the SCCA with other clubs licenses.
 

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I think the amount of contact in Spec Miata varies a great deal by region. Here in the Midwest we saw very little contact on any given weekend when we had our Spec Miata (Although I did eventually wreck our car :( ). Most weekends no cars got bent.
 

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If you are looking to become the best driver you can, then open wheel is the way to go. You can look into buying a vintage FF1600, a club 1600 or a more modern 1600. With a vintage car you can run both with vintage groups and with the SCCA. This gives you more places to play.

You will learn how to make changes to a car and will develop better skills. Also, becasue of the problem with wheel to wheel contact, you will be racing, generally speaking, with a more carefully prepared driver car combination.

At one time Spec Miata was cheap. It still provides great racing, but the cheap part is out the window. A competitive motor is now north of $7,000, and there seems to be a motor builder of the week. Parts are cheap with the exception of the rear quarters. Damage a front fender and it's no big deal. Damage the rear quarter and it is a bit more painful.

The problem I see with Spec Miata is the pure aggressiveness (is that a word) of the drivers. I have yet to see a complete race without serious car to car contact. Becasue it is the general perception that enrty and ongoing costs are low, you get a bunch of banzai (sp?) passes that result in car to car contact. Why do you think we call Spec Miata "Crash Miata".

My best advice would be to put together a budget, how mauch are you willing to spend per year. Then head to the track for a few weekends and talk to folks that drive cars you would consider. Most racers are more than willing to talk about there cars and race program. In no time you will have a good feel as to what you want to do.

As an aside, the cheapest racing as a function of speed/dollar is karting. This is a route that lots of folks fail to consider.

I run a Swift DB6 FF1600 with the SCCA. When I get the time I also play with a 125 shifter kart.

Tim
perfect advice from Tim!

i also found the same thing in my experience
i raced a SM with SCCA, and while there were some very good racers, there was always one or two idiots who thought they would be a pro driver if only they win this race. therefore, they would put you into a wall to make a pass.
there was one guy here in AZ who couldnt get around me, he kept bumping me in all the corners, we were in 2nd/3rd pplace in a REGIONAL race. so he waited until the turn one entrance, and bumped the back corner of my car while we were entering the turn at 105 mph.
i saved it, and passed him back before he gathered his car, but i wanted to let this kid(17) know what he did was not ok.
I gave him my opinions after the race, nicely, and then decided that after seeing that he crashes at every event 2-3 times, and his judgement, that i just didnt want to be racing near this idiot.
i ended up prefering to follow him during the races, rather than lead. he would likely take himself out anyway.

this was the type of person that made me want to move to FF.

also there is nothing "spec" about the SM cars anymore, as tim said the pro built $7K motors ruined the class, if they kept the motors a crate mazda engine, it would have kept costs down, and made it what the class was intended to be.
you will however have huge fields in the cal region with scca in the SM cars.

in the formula cars, guys usually have a clue, they dont want to touch, and in the HSR club i run with, its guys who are not "career minded" with racing. we just go out and have fun. race hard, but all want to bring our cars and bodies home the way we arrived.

the cost of racing will be far less than the cost of fixing your lotus after a wreck in HPDE w/o insurance. i would say more, but the kool-aid drinking peanut gallery of cheerleader for the brand here on LT seems to get a diaper rash when anyone says that the lotus isnt the best car ever for every purpose.
IMO HPDE is a stepping stone towards racing. it does become boring when you take out the "chess game at speed" that racing is.
as others have said, its very addicting, so beware.
I myself have had thoughts of auctioning off my left testicle on ebay to pay for more racing.
 

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Watching the Spec Miata group run was more akin to watching a demolition derby than a race. The reckless abandon of some drivers, poor training of others, and total lack of sportsmanship exhibited that day was amazing.
To take it a step further, a great place to start rather than SCCA is in your regional Vintage group racing.
Becuse there is no great prize at the end, the racing tends to be slightly more relaxed, while still plenty competitive. Also, the people involved are more friendly towards their fellow drivers and willing to be helpful more so than in SCCA or NASA.
more great advice that is spot on!!!!

well said Alphonse
 

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What are the options in open wheel racers for bigger guys? I'm 6'2" and about 210. I tried to slip into a single seat FF and couldn't get my shoulders in.
 

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I myself have had thoughts of auctioning off my left testicle on ebay to pay for more racing.
I wanted to buy your SM when you sold it, but I can't imagine anybody would pay money for THAT!

xtn
 

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What are the options in open wheel racers for bigger guys? I'm 6'2" and about 210. I tried to slip into a single seat FF and couldn't get my shoulders in.
No problem. I'm 6'-2" and 215 at the present. Working to get back down to 200 even. 10lbs equals 1 h.p.

Finding a car to fit will be a bit trickier but it can be done. Not all drivers are diminutive. Our teams first car had been modified by the previous owner to fit his 6'-2"/240 lb. stature so getting started was a snap. The second team car, identical model, had been driven by a guy 5'-5"/150lbs. I almost had to use a sky hook to get out of it.
We opened up the bodywork, relocated the pedals forward and dropped down the seat and we were good to go. I still have to modify the roll bar to ensure that my head is not the high point but that's all it took.

When we were looking for our second team car I always asked the prospective seller what his dimensions were and a lot of the cars out there had been modified to accomodate taller drivers.

Look at the photos under my avatar. I'm the guy in the black shirt. Also the guy in the #31 car crossing the finish line.

Al
 

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No problem. I'm 6'-2" and 215 at the present. Working to get back down to 200 even. 10lbs equals 1 h.p.

Finding a car to fit will be a bit trickier but it can be done. Not all drivers are diminutive. Our teams first car had been modified by the previous owner to fit his 6'-2"/240 lb. stature so getting started was a snap. The second team car, identical model, had been driven by a guy 5'-5"/150lbs. I almost had to use a sky hook to get out of it.
We opened up the bodywork, relocated the pedals forward and dropped down the seat and we were good to go. I still have to modify the roll bar to ensure that my head is not the high point but that's all it took.

When we were looking for our second team car I always asked the prospective seller what his dimensions were and a lot of the cars out there had been modified to accomodate taller drivers.

Look at the photos under my avatar. I'm the guy in the black shirt. Also the guy in the #31 car crossing the finish line.

Al
Nice looking cars. Any particular model suited to us bigger guys?
 

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This will sound heretical to the people who do Spec Miata, SRF, Skip Barber etc but I think that the 24 Hours of Lemons is an awesome way to do some real wheel to wheel racing really really cheap.

The total cost for the first race was < $5000 and was split 5 ways so < $1k per head for 2-3 hours of driving time. Successive races cost < $500 per head. The camaraderie is incredible and since the final prize is $500 in nickels people are out to have a fun time rather than to go all out and win. You will see some idiot drivers but the organizers have really clamped down hard on bad driving and since the speeds are really slow (at Altamont our max was 59 mph) there isnt that much danger of injury. Being an enduro you will see significantly more passing action than in any spec class. Plus if you use something like an E30 or a miata you can always upgrade to the spec series of the car.

I have put some of our in-car video online at
http://www.rahulnair.net/blog/2007/12/08/the-best-lemons-video-ever/
http://www.rahulnair.net/blog/2008/01/08/driving-in-the-dark/
 
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