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How do you get into racing?

Old 05-21-08, 09:38 AM
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How do you get into racing?

How does someone who has never been on a track get into track racing? Ive already been looking through the NASA and SCCA websites. looks like the clearest way is NASA'a HPDE.

but how does one get past that point, and move on to semi/pro racing? are there amatuer competition that still have winnings?

obvisouly i know nothing of which im speaking. school me in all opinions. i just want to hear what other people have done? are any of you semi or pro racers?
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Old 05-21-08, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by TK7 View Post
How does someone who has never been on a track get into track racing? Ive already been looking through the NASA and SCCA websites. looks like the clearest way is NASA'a HPDE.

but how does one get past that point, and move on to semi/pro racing? are there amatuer competition that still have winnings?

obvisouly i know nothing of which im speaking. school me in all opinions. i just want to hear what other people have done? are any of you semi or pro racers?
Do some track days first. See if you really enjoy driving at the limit, and whether you can keep up with the accelerated maintenance schedule. You should meet some local racers doing test/tune there. The best way to get in is to have some locals help you out. They would be able to tell you what series would fit your interests. There are plenty of regional series around the country that can be fun.

Josh
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Old 05-21-08, 09:56 AM
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Start with some basic instruction like at a HPDE. Then look at doing a drivers school, something like Stephen's Brothers:

http://www.stephensbrothersracing.com/

Jim Russell:

http://www.jimrussellusa.com/index.p...d=53&Itemid=98

or one of the other many schools around. Basically you need to get your SCCA or NASA racing license to compete:

http://www.nasaproracing.com/proracing/license.html
http://www.na-motorsports.com/Organi...nLicenses.html

Some of the schools around the country are approved to issue some of those licenses upon successful completion of one of their driving courses.

You can always go the old school way:

1. Do some DE's and Autox to learn car control
2. Rent a race car for a weekend and test for your NASA/SCCA license
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Old 05-21-08, 10:20 AM
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Mazdaspeed has a ladder type of system, so anyone with real talent can get into a racecar!

Interested in racing sportscars?
1. Buy a Miata, set it up, and win the Spec Miata series in it.
http://www.scca.com/

2.This will get you into the MX-5 Cup series. Mazda'll even provide the car.
http://www.mx-5cup.com/

3. Beat everyone in THAT series. Mazda will give you a free ride in one of their World Challenge Touring Cars.


If you want to race open-wheeled race cars, Mazda has a ladder for you too.
1. Go to skip Barber, and graduated at the top of your class. This will get you a free ride in a Star Mazda car for the whole season.
http://www.skipbarber.com/

2. Win the Star Mazda series. Now you're really racing!
http://www.starmazda.com/

3. You now have a free ride in a Formula Atlantic car. These are full-on race cars.
http://www.champcaratlantic.com/

Now you've made a racer out of yourself, thanks to your driving talent and Mazda's bankroll. Pretty cool, huh? Not many car companies do anything like Mazdaspeed's Development Ladder Racing.



More:
http://www.mazdamotorsports.com/pages/ladder.html
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Old 05-21-08, 10:21 AM
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^ so there is a specific lincense. is that the competition license i keep reading about?

so i can basically go at it like any other thing in life and pay for school/training, and then pass a test, or train and get experience on my own, and then test for it. I would/am probably gonna do the NASA HDPE courses this year, and then maybe attend a pro driving school if its within reason.

i feel i am probably already ahead of the curve as far as car control goes. Growing up in the backroads of Kentucky,my drive just to leave the house might as well have been a rally stage!lol. theres been many a time when i exceeded what should be done on a public road back then(young....still young, but not as dumb)

so i was forced to learn car conrtol growing up, but now, id love to be actually trained on proper technique and how to navigate a track properly.





what does having the license do for you? you have it mahjik?
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Old 05-21-08, 11:31 AM
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Keep in mind that car control on a race track is nothing like anything you'll do on public streets. Not to scare you but its really a completely different animal.

Originally Posted by TK7 View Post
what does having the license do for you? you have it mahjik?
A license is what enables you to participate in a SCCA or NASA race. You can't without one. However, keep in mind that racing is expensive. This is the main reason I haven't pursued it yet. Not that I can't afford it, but it's basically money you aren't going to get back other than for the thrill. I know I wouldn't be happy in the more affordable cars and NASA doesn't have a large presence in the Midwest. For that reason, I never got a SCCA racing license (yet). I've decided to just keep doing lapping days for at least another year or two before I think about getting rid of the FD and purchasing a race car.

If you are thinking about racing your FD, your only choice is going to be NASA Time Trials:

http://www.nasa-tt.com/
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Old 05-21-08, 12:32 PM
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no, i dont want to race my FD......id race a more junkier one!

my buddy and i are discussing building his miata that just sits in yard. He doesnt show much interest in actually driving the car, he really just wants to set it up. so ive got my team togther! ha

i understand it doesnt really concern someone as new as me, but does racing in NASA regionals with your competition license ....is that pro series? do you win money?
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Old 05-21-08, 12:51 PM
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There's also club run driving schools put on by the PCA, BMWCCA, Alfa club, etc that are often quite cheap and well run. I'd DEFINETELY reccomend getting a bunch of experience on track before going to a licencing school to try and get your race licence, as then you can concentrate on racecraft, passing, traffic management and so on without having to worry about the driving part of it.

Keep in mind that it takes phenomenal skill, determination, financial commitment, showmanship (to sell yourself to the sponsors, teams, etc) and so on to make it in professional racing, and even then, you won't be making a fortune. Also keep in mind that many of the people you see racing in the "professional" series are PAYING to be there.

Amateur racing, while it doesn't seem glamorous, there's no prize money or anything, but it is often fiercely competetive, will be a lot of fun and is much, much more accessible to the average person, because you can race in fairly cheap classes with older, cheaper cars. Remember, you don't have to go fast to have fun. You can win some contigency money for winning in certain series and events, but it doesn't come as prize money per-se. Mazda Competition will pay you for winning races for instance, and certain other suppliers will pay winning teams running (and advertizing) their gear.

Something like a Spec Miata, an ITB VW, a Formula Ford or something like that can be quite cheap to race.

Also, it is ALWAYS cheaper to buy a race car than it is to build one, by a factor of 2 or more (as in you'll pay at least 2x as much to build an equivalent car).
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Old 05-21-08, 01:44 PM
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Old 05-21-08, 02:45 PM
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As Black91n/a mentioned:

1. It's cheaper to buy a race car already built. No matter how much you think you can build one for, it's going to be less to buy one.

2. You aren't going to win any prizes. Some guys have gotten a new set of tires donated/given to them or small things like that. But basically there are no cash prizes. This is why I mentioned that you spend a lot of money for just basically the thrill and competition.


Basically you are going to spend upwards of $10,000 a year to race a 100rwhp car:

https://www.rx7club.com/race-car-tech-103/real-costs-racing-368675/

I know that wheel to wheel racing is much different than lapping. I also know that driving a non-compromised race car is completely different than driving a prepped street car. But still, I know that I wouldn't be happy racing those cars so I would need/want to spend more money racing something that I would enjoy whether I was at the back of the pack or the middle.


Also Black91n/a mentioned, racing is different than lapping. With lapping, people are out there in different cars, different ability levels, and just different levels they want to drive out on the track. People post lapping videos passing very expensive cars but they never point out that it's "not a race". Some of those people who are driving those expensive cars aren't pushing them so they don't wreck them. Racing is completely different. You have people on the track that all have fairly equal cars. So you need to learn how to drive maybe offline without taking someone out, passing cars that don't want to be passed, and learning how to catch/gain on a car that has the same power as you.
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Old 05-21-08, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by gracer7-rx7 View Post
+1

There is no real prizes. If you can win you may get come contingency sponsorships (tires, brake pads, etc). You are doing this for fun, just like golf but 100x more expensive. I can't think of "fun" that costs more per minute. Minimum $10k a year as mentioned above, that's assuming nothing major happens. You also need to get a car, truck, trailer and someones going to need to do the wrenching - another expense if you can't do it yourself. Buy a cheap IT car and do some HPDE, then figure out if you really want to do this. Racing is MUCH harder than you think, just get out there and you'll soon find out.
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Old 05-21-08, 03:34 PM
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i think im gonna sign up for the sebring HDPE in june. will my stock intercooler survive an HDPE1 track day?





so $10000 a year, and its just for fun...hmmm, that doesnt sound too fun,lol. if thats purely the case, id probably just stick to HDPEs then.


so i understand i probably wont be able to do this, but, just out of curiosity, the races i see on TV, like rolex 24 hr, and the grand-am series, are those teams professionals?(pro means no other job) are there no closed wheel racing "careers"? so competing at the national level in SCCA or NASA is still just for fun, right?

if i sound lost, its cause i am! ha. im just curious (if)how people make a living out of this stuff.
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Old 05-21-08, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by TK7 View Post
so i understand i probably wont be able to do this, but, just out of curiosity, the races i see on TV, like rolex 24 hr, and the grand-am series, are those teams professionals?(pro means no other job)
Yes. The ones that run the full seasons are professionals. There are a few that just make big races who aren't professionals. Those typically run a car like the Porsche RSR which you can basically buy straight from the factory and drop it in most of the professional racing divisions for about $550,000 USD:

http://www.eurocarblog.com/post/568/...e-997-rsr-2008

and that's just buying the car and the lowest level in ALMS/Rolex. As you can tell, those professional teams have budgets we could only dream of...

Originally Posted by TK7 View Post
are there no closed wheel racing "careers"? so competing at the national level in SCCA or NASA is still just for fun, right?
It can be a career if you put in the time, effort, devotion and money. But it's hard work. And if you didn't start early in karting, you'll have a tough time unless you can get a break on a show like Setup or run a ladder system like Natey posted above in Spec Miata. Basically, you'd have be be really dominating in amateur levels for some pro team to even care. Even then, just like a real job, you test for pro teams as they have more than enough drivers wanting to drive a the pro level. The odds making it into pro racing here in the US is at least better than your chances of being a pro football or basketball player.

However, oval racing is very accessible and cheap here in the US. Not something for me, but I know a lot of people who do it and don't spend nearly as much as some of the people running amateur sports car series.
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Old 05-21-08, 04:36 PM
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Not all of the drivers in the Grand-Am or Rolex series are pros per-se or are being paid. Many teams survive by renting out rides to paying customers, and some of the drivers are getting paid to be there because they're running their own teams, wrenching on their own cars and generally putting a lot of work in to get paid very little. The Nonamaker brothers are a prime example.

One thing that can give you some very good insight into the whole racing thing is to go and volunteer to crew for a team at a local club level race. You'll learn a lot about what it takes to be successful at a club level and about racing in general, plus you'll make some contacts that might come in handy later on.
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Old 05-21-08, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by SCCAITS View Post
Racing is MUCH harder than you think, just get out there and you'll soon find out.
Agreed. You might get involved in it and realize that it's just way too much risk, work, pain etc for the reward.

My advice: get your club license, rent a spec miata or pro-7 type car and do a race weekend. This is by far the cheapest way to really experience 'proper' racing. There are many places that rent cars for race weekends and provide trackside support, setup, etc.

FWIW, $10k really seems on the low end of cost for a 'proper' years worth of racing.
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Old 05-21-08, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Natey View Post
Mazdaspeed has a ladder type of system, so anyone with real talent can get into a racecar!

Interested in racing sportscars?
1. Buy a Miata, set it up, and win the Spec Miata series in it.
http://www.scca.com/

2.This will get you into the MX-5 Cup series. Mazda'll even provide the car.
http://www.mx-5cup.com/

3. Beat everyone in THAT series. Mazda will give you a free ride in one of their World Challenge Touring Cars.


If you want to race open-wheeled race cars, Mazda has a ladder for you too.
1. Go to skip Barber, and graduated at the top of your class. This will get you a free ride in a Star Mazda car for the whole season.
http://www.skipbarber.com/

2. Win the Star Mazda series. Now you're really racing!
http://www.starmazda.com/

3. You now have a free ride in a Formula Atlantic car. These are full-on race cars.
http://www.champcaratlantic.com/

Now you've made a racer out of yourself, thanks to your driving talent and Mazda's bankroll. Pretty cool, huh? Not many car companies do anything like Mazdaspeed's Development Ladder Racing.



More:
http://www.mazdamotorsports.com/pages/ladder.html
What he said! Mazda has really done a lot for the club racing world by creating a ladder system twice over.

I agree with the others who say to give HPDE a try to see if you really enjoy driving at the limit on the track. No matter how much street experience you have, listen to the instructors who have good racing experience and you'll learn a whole lot more. Take your time mastering the fundamentals, and the speed will come naturally.

And marry rich...
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Old 05-21-08, 10:44 PM
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I dont have any real racing experience but what I have observed in shows like set-up and talking to people is attitude, it's a big factor. I see alot of people who think they are mini-schumachers and never go anywhere past auto-x or a timeattack(nothing against auto-x or timeattack, this is what I do. Im just talking about the people who think they are pro after there first track day.) due to an unteachable attitude.
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Old 05-21-08, 11:42 PM
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On the subject of budget to go club racing, do you say 10k including a race Car and tow vehicle? If you have that stuff already I think you can race IT for less. I intend to race 6 more times this year, making sure to hit the double race weekends saves a lot. Entry fees are less, tow only once for two races, etc. I have figured that it will cost me about 500 per race if I don't crash. Doing my own wrenching of course. This is a car that mahjik will not drive, but it can still be a lot of fun. There are plenty of cars on the track than I can run with so the thrill is still there. Also, kumho has already paid for a large portion of a new set of tires with their contingency.

To the original post, I say find a cheap race car and give it a try. At worst you will have some fun and get out, but it is likely you will be hooked. I did a couple hpde days prior to drivers school and my first competitive race. Probably helped more than I realize, but you could certainly get by without it.
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Old 05-21-08, 11:46 PM
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That's a very good point, and I'll expand on it with some comments/advice.

A BMW club driving instructor (and racer) is a friend of the family, and he says that some days teaching are a nightmare, because someone shows up that thinks that he's god's gift to driving and absolutely will not listen to instruction and proceeds to flail around the track endangering everyone and learns nothing. Also, novices with heavily modified, or very fast cars can be very scary too due to the sheer speeds involved. You'll learn more in a slower car, because a fast, powerful car can mask driving errors with sheer power and grip. A slow car ruthlessly punishes mistakes by being slow, so you'll know it every time you do it wrong, and it'll reward good driving with speed, and that feels great, especially when you can then chase down slower drivers in faster cars.

Leave your ego at home and keep an open mind, the instructor is there because they're experienced, talented, and fast. It's NOT racing when you go to a track day, HPDE, driving school, or whatever they'll call it. No matter how good you think you are, inevitably you'll SUCK when on track. I don't say that to be mean or anything, but it's the truth 99% of the time, and the sooner you realize it, the sooner you can get better. One of the best things to make you faster is to go slow and concentrate on being smooth, then the speed will come all on its own. Trust me, it works very well. Also don't expect to get good in one day, one year or anything, the really good drivers will have hundreds of hours of track driving experience, so be patient.
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Old 05-22-08, 12:01 AM
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One of the ways you can make some money racing is to pimp yourself out to manufacturers when you aren't racing. I worked the Zoom Zoom Live tour last time around and half the tour the year before. Once you get your name out there the jobs are easier to come by, pay is around $250-300 a day plus expenses. A lot of drivers that are trying to make a career of road racing use these types of programs to supplement their income.
One of the guys I worked with won the show "Set Up" last season and my friend that got me involved won the Formula Mazda Pro Series back in 2000.
You have to be great with people, you're there representing the manufacturer so you need to be able to relate to everybody from highschool kids to marketing directors from the home office.
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Old 05-22-08, 06:45 AM
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i have no problem taking instruction on something i know nothing about. id be glad to hear what the instructors could teach me.


250-300 a day? how many hours are we talking? even if it was a 10 hour day, $250 is stil $25 an hour thats not bad at all.



and whats this "set-up" show? ill have to go look for it......i dont have cable,lol, i assume its on Speed.
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Old 05-22-08, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by TK7 View Post
i have no problem taking instruction on something i know nothing about. id be glad to hear what the instructors could teach me.


250-300 a day? how many hours are we talking? even if it was a 10 hour day, $250 is stil $25 an hour thats not bad at all.
ebb up above there lives around the corner from me. He's doing his first racing season this year so let's wait and see how much he spends at the end of the season.

For the HPDE's, usually you can do about $300 for a weekend. At most events, you'll get 4-5 sessions a day (sessions range 20-30 minutes). It doesn't sound like much, but I can assure you that running your car hard for 30 minutes straight is not easy. The first time you do it, you'll be completely worn out Sunday night.

Now, there are some groups which will have open lapping for a day in which you can almost run as much as you can. However, those are typically a little hard to find and get in. Start with the standard local BMW, Porsche or Audi club events. Do a few of those, make some friends, and then start looking at some of the other groups running which are close to you.


Originally Posted by TK7 View Post
and whats this "set-up" show? ill have to go look for it......i dont have cable,lol, i assume its on Speed.
http://www.speedtv.com/programs/setup/
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Old 05-22-08, 01:37 PM
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I know that the open lapping days that are run within a reasonable days drive from me ALL require prior track experience in an advanced group before they'll let you run with them, as that is absolutely the wrong place for a novice. While it may be more expensive to go some place with instruction, you'll learn WAY more than if you were alone, and you'll also not learn any bad habbits and you'll be less likely to make a costly mistake (read: crash).
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Old 05-23-08, 03:09 PM
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What he said! Mazda has really done a lot for the club racing world by creating a ladder system twice over.

I agree with the others who say to give HPDE a try to see if you really enjoy driving at the limit on the track. No matter how much street experience you have, listen to the instructors who have good racing experience and you'll learn a whole lot more. Take your time mastering the fundamentals, and the speed will come naturally.

And marry rich...
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Old 05-24-08, 06:22 PM
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I wish I had parents who got me into karting when I was younger. I better have a boy, because if not, I might have to force karting on my daughter!
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