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how do i get into road racing?

Old 05-05-09, 09:14 PM
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how do i get into road racing?

Hey, I'm just about finished building my fd (well in terms of hp), it came with some kind of lowered suspension (not sure of the specs), upgraded bushings, and bigger sway bars, so i think its better than stock, but then again I've never driven another one.

I would eventually like to get into road racing, drag racing doesn't quite catch my eye all that much, even though i've built the engine/turbo set up to be more appropriate for the drag strip. The turbo isn't crazy huge though, greddy T-78, so it should still spool decently for road racing.

My question is, how do I get into it? I'm located in Stamford CT, and I'm willing to do some traveling. My car has way to much power (500 hopefully) to be a beginners car (and an FD should never be a beginners car anyway, way too pretty for some noob like myself to wreck). But I figure if I run just off the wastegate (12psi) then the power wouldn't be too unreasonable, and before I get flamed I do understand that even without at 0psi I could crash it on a course.

I don't even know where to start, I'm guessing my car would have to pass some kind of inspection, and I doubt they'd want a new guy out on the course learning the ropes with other guys that are really pushing it out there too. Any recommendations?
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Old 05-05-09, 09:46 PM
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Start by reading the book "Go Ahead Take the Wheel" by David Gran
http://goaheadtakethewheel.com/

David hangs out on improvedtouring.com and occasionally on NASA's forums and SCCA's forums.

Also search for past threads on this topic.
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Old 05-05-09, 09:49 PM
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Read this book - http://www.goaheadtakethewheel.com/Home_Page.html

Attend local SCCA and/or NASA races and talk to people in the pits.

Edit: Last post beat me to Dave's book. BTW, your FD is not going to be legal for any SCCA class that I can think of. For NASA probably SU or ST1.
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Old 05-05-09, 09:57 PM
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The David Gran book is great. You can also visit www.scca.com, go to the Club Racing section and then select the Cars and Rules option. You can down load the most current version of the General Competition Rules (GCR) and find your car. If you have questions about the rules you can post them here......the rule book is complicated.

While you are at the SCCA site you can look up your local SCCA Region on the home page and find club racing contacts that are local to you.

Welcome to the sport. I have been club racing since 2003. This is the most fun I have ever had.....period.
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Old 05-05-09, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by SCCAITS View Post
BTW, your FD is not going to be legal for any SCCA class that I can think of. For NASA probably SU or ST1.

FD fits in ITE but sometimes not competitive since that is a pretty 'open' class. You probably know that better than I. Cheaper and easier to race an FC or Miata or many other cars as my research has shown.
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Old 05-06-09, 07:09 AM
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Thanks for all the info I'll definitely be checking out the book and going to the website. Hopefully there is something kind of close by to me.

I definitely agree that it'd be cheaper to race an fc or miata, but i've already got a built fd, so unless i find one of those dirt cheap i kind of have to stick with what i've got.

Also, how does Time Attack racing fit into everything?
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Old 05-06-09, 08:36 AM
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Yes, ITE could be an option but it's a "regional only" class and the rules vary from region to region, may or may not fit depending upon region.

Wheel to wheel racing doesn't sound what you want or need right for this car, Time Attack or Time Trials or whatever you want to call it might be better suited for your situation. Check out NASA for Time Trials.

As far as having a "built FD", not sure if it is "built" for racing as you'll need real racing seat, harness, cage, fire bottle, kill switch, etc. etc. Time trials doesn't require the safety mods that wheel to wheel does.
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Old 05-06-09, 09:19 AM
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Funny how that works. "Built" is more applicable to all out track cars or TT cars - not competition cars. Race organizations like NASA and SCCA have strict rules about what mods you can make. It helps control costs. I've seen many people un-mod their cars to turn their track cars into race cars.

There is plenty of racing in the NE. You have Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, Pocono and NJ Motorsports Park for tracks and NASA, SCCA, EMRA, BMWCCA and other organizations there.
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Old 05-06-09, 09:49 AM
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I see, i was using built as a general term meaning i've dumped money into it and don't really want to do that for another car that I don't like as much.

I don't have a full cage, but have a roll bar, which also ties the rear shocks together. I would need to do more safety mods for sure, and also look at the specs/rules required by whichever organization I consider.

Wheel to wheel definitely seems more fun, but at first glance it does seem that my car is probably not ready for it. Has anyone here started in Time Attack type racing to learn how to really drive, and then moved to wheel to wheel? This seems a little safer, as I wouldn't be endangering as many people with my noob skills haha. Then when I'm ready, know how to drive better, know that its something I really want to get further into, thus allowing me a way to rationalize spending the money to make my car SCCA (or whatever other association) legal.

Does anyone here have any experience with time trials? Seems like a rational way for me to eventually get to wheel to wheel racing. Any thoughts?
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Old 05-06-09, 10:17 AM
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Autocross might actually be a better place for you to get started. Costs are substantially lower, there is a higher tolerance (I think) for noobs just getting started, you're not putting your car at risk, and it would give you a chance to get to know what your car is capable of (and what you are capable of).

No doubt wheel to wheel would be a blast, but it might not be the best of ideas to try to dive right into it. Just a thought. If you're not familiar with autocross (I don't know, maybe you are) then follow the link in my signature and check out some videos. Lots of fun, and only costs about 20 bucks to do.


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Old 05-06-09, 11:53 AM
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You can't just start in time trials. You have to get some HPDE experience first before doing anything else.

Wheel to wheel requires a competition license, which has many requirements, for more information on these they are both covered in the CCR and GCR. Experience on track is required.

Read Dave's book. Go hang out at an SCCA or NASA weekend and talk to people. This will get you further than even a 20 page thread on the topic.
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Old 05-06-09, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Chudsoncoupe View Post
I see, i was using built as a general term meaning i've dumped money into it and don't really want to do that for another car that I don't like as much.

I don't have a full cage, but have a roll bar, which also ties the rear shocks together. I would need to do more safety mods for sure, and also look at the specs/rules required by whichever organization I consider.

Wheel to wheel definitely seems more fun, but at first glance it does seem that my car is probably not ready for it. Has anyone here started in Time Attack type racing to learn how to really drive, and then moved to wheel to wheel? This seems a little safer, as I wouldn't be endangering as many people with my noob skills haha. Then when I'm ready, know how to drive better, know that its something I really want to get further into, thus allowing me a way to rationalize spending the money to make my car SCCA (or whatever other association) legal.

Does anyone here have any experience with time trials? Seems like a rational way for me to eventually get to wheel to wheel racing. Any thoughts?

Remember that you can and sometimes do have body contact in wheel to wheel racing. Sometimes the car can be a total write off and insurance won't cover that.

There is something to be said for racing a cheap, easily replaceable, disposable car. If something does go wrong, you aren't out serious cash or can't find parts at a reasonable price for a rare-ish car like the FD.
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Old 05-06-09, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Chudsoncoupe View Post
Does anyone here have any experience with time trials? Seems like a rational way for me to eventually get to wheel to wheel racing. Any thoughts?
Damian and a few others do time trials here on the forum. Trust me, you won't want to do what it take for "wheel to wheel" racing to your FD. I've looked into it and your car pretty much becomes non-streetable.

Regardless of where you want to end up, you need to start somewhere. Here's my suggestions (along with the book mentioned above):

* Find an Evo School in your area: http://www.evoschool.com/

Now, it's not road racing, but it is about car control. I've been road racing for a few years and I plan to attend an Evo school as soon as my car is ready. So, you can always learn something new.

* Check your local track(s) for club events. BMW, Porsche and Audi clubs typically have lapping days where you can get some decent instruction and track time under your belt.

* Check your local track(s) for racing schools. There are several racing schools which have 1-3 day sessions that will give you advanced more focused instruction.
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Old 05-06-09, 04:17 PM
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Purchase an old miata and practice via autocross, and DE events.
When you're good & confident, try time-trials at some DE events.

Save your FD from wheel-to-wheel competition, unless you want to gut her, and put in a full cage.

Time-trials is OK in a fairly stock FD, but only when you're fairly accomplished in car control.
I did both SCCA autocross and high-speed driving events in a Mercedes wagon and sedan before I graduated to my FD.

Even when I got my FD, I did autocross first to understand how the car handles, before doing DE's, and then finally time-trials.

FWIW, on a short and very technical course, a very good spec Miata driver will almost always SPANK an FD, as you can't use all the HP on a technical course.

Good luck!

:-) neil
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Old 05-06-09, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by M104-AMG View Post
Purchase an old miata and practice via autocross, and DE events.
When you're good & confident, try time-trials at some DE events.
How's that old expression go...? "In a slow car I can make you into a good driver in two years. In a hot car it will take five years."
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Old 05-07-09, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by M104-AMG View Post
Purchase an old miata and practice via autocross, and DE events.
Or an old FC (like I did) or an old FB. There are plenty of complete racecars for sale at bargain rates these days.

Save your FD from wheel-to-wheel competition, unless you want to gut her, and put in a full cage.
Even in time trials and HPDE, for the performance levels of a "prepped" FD you should be running full safety equipment for both car and driver, IMHO. Stock belts and seats aren't designed to save you from 150mph brake failures or tire blowouts.

I started going down that route with my FD and decided that I enjoyed driving it on the roads too much to turn it into an unstreetable track monster. So I took it back to near stock and comfortable (as much as an FD can be) and I bought the FC.

Never race a car that you have to depend upon. If you can't wad it up into a small ball, set fire to it and walk away from it (both personally and financially) then you have no business racing it.

FWIW, on a short and very technical course, a very good spec Miata driver will almost always SPANK an FD, as you can't use all the HP on a technical course.
Gotta call BS here. For equal levels of prep and equal levels of driver, the Miata just won't keep up on anything bigger than a tight auto-x course. It's just that you tend to find a larger population of good/experienced Miata drivers than you do good FD drivers at events, so the results tend to be skewed in that direction.

-b
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Old 05-08-09, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Chudsoncoupe View Post
Thanks for all the info I'll definitely be checking out the book and going to the website. Hopefully there is something kind of close by to me.

I definitely agree that it'd be cheaper to race an fc or miata, but i've already got a built fd, so unless i find one of those dirt cheap i kind of have to stick with what i've got.

Also, how does Time Attack racing fit into everything?
If by "Road Racing" then fine run the FD. If by road racing you mean ultimately getting to wheel-wheel competition or 9/10 and 10/10's time attack driving, buy another car for it. Unless you're made of money, it's hard or impossible to become a good aggressive driver with a car you really really don't want to damage. I'm not saying you have to beat on your car, but you have to drive with conviction.

Also worth noting is that FDs aren't the easiest cars to learn to drive hard. Good drivers enjoy driving them, but if you're a beginning driver they make for a long steep learning curve. You will become a faster/better driver much earlier in a spec miata or other affordable race car. It need not be a competitive car at all, since you won't be a competitive driver for quite a while anyhow.

Dave
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Old 05-09-09, 08:57 AM
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I started road racing ten years ago. I bought a blown up FC to start autocrossing. I dropped by the local rotary shop and in the back they had a spec 7 car that they were racing. I got the parts to re-build the FC, but I went out and watched the next spec 7 race. Two weeks later I attended a race licensing school. (the school used spec 7's so it was a great learning opportunity) After getting my license I built a spec 7, got all the saftey gear and headed out on track. I hit every event I could find, autocrosses, club track days, etc. I raced the spec class for five years before I gave up due to high costs for marginal performance. The experience I gained and the level of car control I learned was amazing. In a spec class you almost always have soeone around the same skill level and when you get good the racing is usually top notch so you have to push the car hard. I built a turbo FC for use in a catch all class and three years later have mostly debugged it (Until I make the next major change). Without the earlier spec racing experience I doubt I'd be capable of handling my current car. Every year when I take it out for the first time I always make the same comment; "My brain needs to run faster". It takes a lot of concentration and trust in the equipment and your experience to push a built car hard and it takes a long time to build that all up. When you get wheel to wheel it is that much more intense as there is rarely a clear corner where you can run a perfect line and you really have to think around the other cars. In the low powered spec class it would sometimes take me three laps to line up a pass. I'd follw a guy, see where I was faster than him, see where I could push the issue and where I could possibly out-accelerate him/her. Then I'd have to arrive at the pass point with more speed or better position than the other driver and commit to the pass. It was hard work, but In my five years I never crashed into someone trying a pass as I was always at a pretty good advantage when I put my nose in. You've almost always got the choice of keeping the paint job or trying to keep the position. I've always wanted my work to make the car faster, not just get the car back together so I'd usually back out on someone trying a hairy pass. Most times within a few laps I'd pass them back when they overcooked a corner or just plain spun off.
Wow, I got all long-winded there. Basically, start off slow. If you really want to road race the FD, start by dialing the boost right down. Next, take a licensing school 3 day program. Then hit every kind of track day / autocross you can find. Talk to everyone, listen to what they say and try to play the info they give off mutiple people, when they all agree it's a solid point. When everyone disagrees it's a religious issue and you'll have to from your own opinion. Get them to ride alon with you for laps, giving pointers or even better, get them to drive your car for a lap with you in the car. Budget a few years to start getting competetive at anything. At the start you will suck, you will spin and you won't be fast. Just be patient, be slow to build towards your speed and have fun. The only rewards in the first years are having fun, staying clean and making friends. Winning your class comes much later. If your are polite, courteous on track and a nice guy people will want to help you get faster. If not, you are on your own.

my $0.02
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Old 05-09-09, 11:15 AM
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Thanks again for the comments, very helpful info. I'm not in any rush and willing to take my time to decide which direction to go in.

I definitely don't want to destroy my FD, so wheel to wheel is out for sure. But it is already very rough to drive on the street. the drive to through traffic just to get on a decent road is painful and I end up just getting frustrated haha.

I don't depend on it, as I barely drive it, only on weekends, maybe once it gets tuned i'll be more willing to take it out at night after work. But it is in no way a daily driver.

I'm definitely going to find some kind of program as mentioned above. When I had my bike I was going to go to the California Superbike school for a weekend, but I got rear-ended two weeks before i was scheduled to go, and got the FD instead of a new bike. So I think before anything else happens I'll do that and see how I like it.
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Old 05-10-09, 10:52 PM
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I have been competing in the SCCA for 20yrs now. Thirteen yrs in Solo II and 7 yrs in club racing. In that time I learned a few things that seem to apply to everyone no matter what they want to race.

Driving fast on a race track is a skill set you can learn in a number of ways. Solo II is a great way to learn about car control, aggression and how to read a track. Open track events allow you learn from experienced drivers and then learn a track through repetition. That said, driving fast on a race track is not racing....just part of it.

Racing wheel to wheel reguires you to be able to drive fast and disciplined laps. When you catch a competitior you have to know what to do with them and this is what racing is all about. Some call this Race Craft. Race Craft is a skill you can only learn by doing. Different things happen everytime the green flag drops and you can only see this by racing.....allot. By the way, learning race craft has nothing to do with speed. A close race with a evenly matched competitior is just as tough at 80-100MPH as it is at 100-125mph.

I have no idea what your budget is but in order to race allot you have to have a car that is reliable that you can afford to race. If your FD is that car....then get a tow vehicle and trailer and get after it. There are classes for it in the SCCA and NASA. But keep in mind that the initial investment in dollars to get a car on track is a drop in the bucket compared to what it costs to actually race it. I purchased my car in 2002 for $5800. In the 6 subsequent season I never spent less than that purchase price (per year) to race it. So that means I have spent around $36K to go racing (God I am glad my wife doesn't read this!). Oh and I race in one of the "cheap" classes - Improved Touring 7.

I'm not bragging here or trying to talk you out of what you want to do. Hell, we need racers on the track. But it would dishonest of me or anyone else not to tell you what this deal is about and what it costs.
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Old 05-11-09, 03:36 PM
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I have been road racing a long time too, and I agree with mustanghammer 100%
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