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Carroll Smith on getting started, what do you guys think?

Old 11-10-06, 11:08 PM
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Carroll Smith on getting started, what do you guys think?

Im curious to hear what people think about Carroll Smith's advice on starting out in Drive to Win. He suggests starting with sprint karts, then going to racing school, doing a series with them, then going to Europe. This seems to run opposite of what most racers on this forum are doing. Or do most racers here think of it as fun and not a potential career?

His paragraph on the SCCA also really catches my attention:

"Do not fall into any of the SCCA traps. Formula Ford 1600 in this country is dead. Sport 2000 and Olds Pro are 'doctor/lawyer' classes and Olds Pro is a cheater's paradise. The spec racer classes are a complete waste of time. Toyota Atlantic requires a budget that would allow you to do a competitive year in the British Formula Three Championship. The same is true of Indy Lights, but at least the media coverage and the Indy Car connection are good."

He is also adamantly against starting with a car that has fenders and a roof.

I hate a one sided argument, what do you guys say?
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Old 11-10-06, 11:27 PM
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He pretty much nails it but a couple of the classes he lists are a bit dated. (old book) Olds Pro cars were S2000's with Quad 4's in them.

He doesn't mention the dollars involved. In anything higher than karts your looking at at least $100,000 for a school series off the top of my head. It goes up from there, quickly hitting high 6 digits maybe 7!

So, your left with what you can afford unless your a member of the lucky sperm club. Usually thats a modified street car running in SCCA or NASA. What he lists may be a great track to follow but for most its not realistic. There are 1000's of drivers that have gone his route, spent a million bucks or two of someones money and you will never know their names. Your only prayer to be "discovered" is to start in Karts and kick butt there hoping somebody notices. The other option is to do what Igor Sushko has done, start a business that can sponsor your racing. He is running the Nissan GT-R in Speed World Challenge GT. He's a nice guy, I had dinner with him a few weeks ago. Started a car forum like this one when he was 14. Six years later he's got his own ride.
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Old 11-10-06, 11:40 PM
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skip barber is about the best starting point out there. if you can afford a couple of seasons and have the talent to win the championship you have about a 1 in 20 shot of getting at least some kind of sponsored ride. just ask AJ allmindinger....his dad is a carpet layer...his career was paid for by skippy. I agree with carroll even though its a few decades later scca rarely translates into professional racing.
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Old 11-11-06, 12:32 AM
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EC, you're probably already too old to make driving your primary career. Try a year of karting and see if you don't get blown away by a bunch of teens. And, yes, most of the track junkies on this board are lapping-day guys, not racers.
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Old 11-11-06, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by sereneseven
skip barber is about the best starting point out there. if you can afford a couple of seasons and have the talent to win the championship you have about a 1 in 20 shot of getting at least some kind of sponsored ride. just ask AJ allmindinger....his dad is a carpet layer...his career was paid for by skippy. I agree with carroll even though its a few decades later scca rarely translates into professional racing.
It sucks too 'cause where else is one supposed to go to hope to get into pro racing? Nowhere!
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Old 11-11-06, 01:37 AM
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Eggie im still a teen . The one guy that really gives me hope is Sebastien Loeb with his late start and current dominance. I know hes a world away as auto racing goes but if you know the right people its all possible. Ive been looking at the Jim Russelll scholarship, it looks promising but still requires a big chunk of change to get into. What also bugs me is that they don't specify what a year of formal auto racing experience is when they say you need less then that. I also can't seem to find how much the prizes are for skip barbers regional championships. It really bugs me that they aren't upfront about these things.

There really are thousands of ways of doing this, just like how there are thousands of 'correct' ways to go through every corner. I know of a couple people that have cars fully paid for by sponsors in..... NASA rally. How, they talk to every potential sponsor they can think of then talk to more. They let sponsors borrow their car to park in front of their place of business. They take their cars to shows, fairs, etc. They are as much businessmen as drivers.

I've got Dave Gran's book on order and im curious what his perspective is on all of this, I get the feeling that he is more of a hobbyist.

jgrewe, I got to see his car in person at Laguna Seca this year. Its too bad he only got it on the track for 4 laps of the race but even that is accomplishing a lot from where he started. When I got home that night I looked up everything I could about that car and happened upon his story.

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Old 11-11-06, 08:13 AM
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Dran Gran's book covers club racing. This is amature league, not pro.

Getting sponsors to offset the cost of your car is one thing, but that's not "pro". Pro is when people pay you to drive their cars.

No offense, but if you are looking around for how to get started in a pro career, you are in the wrong place. As jgrewe points out, most people on this forum are lap kiddies and club racers. We love racing and love the track, but it's just a hobby. Most of us have day jobs (and good ones, because this ain't cheap).

I know hes a world away as auto racing goes but if you know the right people its all possible.
If you know all the right people and are a very, very, VERY good driver. Most of us are not.

IIRC, you have never been on a track - you need to get out there and find out if you are any good. Go look into local competitive carting leagues in your area. Get some seat time. Start looking into club racing and see if you can afford it.

Who knows, you may end being the next Chip Herr.
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Old 11-11-06, 08:52 AM
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For some on track experience with an instructer so you don't create bad habits to break later check out the Bondurant School. You can spend some time in a 'vette and then an open wheel car.
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Old 11-11-06, 01:51 PM
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For a cheaper introduction to the track check out some of the clubs in your area that do driving schools. The usual places to look are: BMWCCA, PCA, Alpha club, Audi Club, Viper club, Corvette club, Mustang club, there's also tack day clubs in some areas. There's a sticky on top that lists a bunch of them. I've been to BMWCCA and PCA schools and they're very good, probably not Bondurant good, but for volunteers it's excellent. It's MUCH cheaper, think $200-300 for a day, vs $1000+. They're done in YOUR car though.
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Old 11-11-06, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Black91n/a
For a cheaper introduction to the track check out some of the clubs in your area that do driving schools. The usual places to look are: BMWCCA, PCA, Alpha club, Audi Club, Viper club, Corvette club, Mustang club, there's also tack day clubs in some areas. There's a sticky on top that lists a bunch of them. I've been to BMWCCA and PCA schools and they're very good, probably not Bondurant good, but for volunteers it's excellent. It's MUCH cheaper, think $200-300 for a day, vs $1000+. They're done in YOUR car though.
Do they care if you bring something different then a BMW/Alpha/Etc. I have a miata that is a seat and harness away from being track safe.
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Old 11-11-06, 04:03 PM
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Most of them don't care what car you have, as long as you're a club member or a member of an affiliate club (PCA and BMWCCA are ok for either school for instance). Some might reserve spots for the given make, but then after a certain date allow anything, or something like that. It'll depend on the club, most are first come, first serve. At the schools I've been to there's been a mix of lots of different makes and models, and the owners aren't snooty aout it or anything, I've had nice conversations with Porsche and BMW owners at the track and there's no "you're not one of us" attitude or anything. They respect speed, in any form. Some clubs are pretty restrictive when it comes to convertibles (helmet must be 2" below the "broomstick line" between the rollbar top and the windshield top, others are looser. In the BMWCCA club rules they're even more restrictive, they say you have to comply like in the picture, but my dad's run twice with the BMWCCA (Puget Sound region and Inland Empire region) in his Miata, and he's about level with the bar. One strange thing at the Suget Sound region BMWCCA/PCA school was that they wanted convertibles to run top up.
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Old 11-11-06, 08:30 PM
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EC^^^^^^ hahahahahah prize $ skippy..... don't worry you won't break even, but if you can impress the coaches on and off track they can help to keep you in the car plus most of them have pretty good connections and i have seen alot of ex skippy guys in alot of really good seats....watch the daytona 24hr the field is ushually around 5-%10 skippy guys.
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Old 11-12-06, 12:30 AM
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EC, you're located near some excellent karting. You should call Emmick about taking a lesson at one of the nearby sprint tracks. They're in Sacramento, and there's a track in Davis IIRC. You can do this for the price of a lapping day.
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Old 11-12-06, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Eggie
EC, you're located near some excellent karting. You should call Emmick about taking a lesson at one of the nearby sprint tracks. They're in Sacramento, and there's a track in Davis IIRC. You can do this for the price of a lapping day.
Interesting, I took a look at their site and the price is reasonable. I can think of a bunch of reasons why I would want to check this out but im curious why you are recommending it. What do you think I should go there to learn?
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Old 11-12-06, 12:18 PM
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ec I just noticed you were in the bay area....why don't you take one of the russell racing kart schools to start, they should have some pretty good instructors.
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Old 11-14-06, 01:41 AM
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Originally Posted by EndlessCorners
...im curious why you are recommending it. What do you think I should go there to learn?
In the interest of full disclosure, I own an Emmick shifter kart...

I believe that a kart can teach you more quickly than any other vehicle, and you can get more seat time for the money. Emmick's been around for decades, so they're an obvious karting contact for anyone in the area. Emmick played a big role in developing Joey Hand's career, and he now drives M3s for PTG.

Here's an example of Ron Emmick's knowledge. When I got my chassis, it was a brand-new model and didn't have a setup sheet. So I called the company and spent a while talking to Ron. Probably the most important aspect of basic kart setup is seat position, because that's the main factor in weight distribution. Ron asked my height and weight, then reeled off the numbers for locating the seat. He just figured those numbers in his head in about 5 seconds. But when I followed his directions and got the corner weights, both back tires were EXACTLY the same, and there was a 5-lb difference in the front. The man knows his stuff, and he can drive too.
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Old 11-14-06, 01:43 PM
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Adding to what Eggie said. If anybody thinks there ain't no chassis set up in a Kart I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU. Everything you learn about setting up a Kart (chassis, carb, clutch, exhaust, temps, air, data recording/use) you will take with you to your car after you have learned if you have what it takes to drive fast safely. You will find out in a hurry if you have a connection between your eyes, a$$, head & hands.

Whatever, Have Fun

David
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Old 11-14-06, 01:52 PM
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I agree with david as I also race karts, you will learn alot about driving and if you stick with it long enough there is a lot of tricks to setting up a kart , BUT LOL evrything you do to set up a kart is almost exactly oposite of what you do to set up a car with suspension.
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Old 11-14-06, 02:05 PM
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hmm is it possible that a 6'5 260lbs guy can cart?
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Old 11-14-06, 02:18 PM
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ha ^ well yes I suppose anythings possible I use to know a guy about your size who ran a TAG didn't look comfy but man he drove the sh** ot of it.
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