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Racing noob - I'm going to spend $3000 on an FB!

Old 07-01-09, 01:32 PM
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Racing noob - I'm going to spend $3000 on an FB!

Yeah... As it turns out, I don't think I'll be able to just up and build a Spec RX-7 like I thought I could...

I've got the AutoPower cage (Minus the additional door bars that were added to teh required parts rules recently). I've got an FIA seat. I've got two and a half full sets of Panasports, spare GSL rear ends and many axle shafts, Two sets of doors and fenders, couple engines and rotor housings, three transmissions... And that's not counting the entire parts car I have...

I went out and bought RB springs and Tokico blue shocks, a whole mess of VDO gauges, polyurethane bushings out the wazoo... I even took a welding class at the local community college to learn how to put the reinforcement plates in for the cage.

Hell, I even went out and bought a used Flatbed Tow Truck to take my **** to and from the track. I'm serious about this...



But as it turns out, I think it's gonna take too long to put the car together and even then, people are telling me on the Spec RX-7 mailing list that it's just not worth it to build as a first timer and that I should buy an already built Spec RX-7.


So I'm looking at an ex IT-7 car. It's got a Spec suspension already on it, RB springs and Tokico Shocks... The proper roll cage is in there. The only thing I have to deal with is exchanging the header for a 12A manifold.

No problem there. (It just sucks that I'm paying three grand for a first gen.) I guess I have the car that I was planning on building up as a parts car.


Sooo... Once I've bougth the car... Cna anyone else share their experiences as to what I should be doing?

-Buy a helmet, Snell AS rating, motorcycle is no good...
-Buy nomex suit, long johns, underoos, shoes, socks, etc...
-Check the tags on the harness, replace if necessary...



Then what? What should I expect at driver's school?

I've never raced at all, except for two or three "Mazda Rev-it-up / Zoom-Zoom Live" events near here. Never even autocrossed.

They say I'll need a crew. What should my crew know about, what should I prep them for?


I know there's a procedure, but the addage goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Maybe people have some little pro tips that'll make it easier for me.

I'd hate to trash my car on my first green flag. (Especially since I've NEVER paid more than $2400 for a vehicle, even my daily, and even the afore mentioned tow truck...) I'd hate to flunk outta driver's ed for being too much of a ***** or for being overly aggressive...
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Old 07-01-09, 02:24 PM
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Don't know for sure, but I've heard driver's schools are pretty quick - and there's only so much experience you can get in a couple days. I recommend going thru the ranks of something like the NASA HPDE program. Although it will take you a year or two, you'll be less likely to get messed up when you do get to the w2w racing. You can still use your planned race car purchase. In order to get a racing license, you will need to show then an exisiting or new log book on the car, however.

A flat-bed trailer... WOW! I want one of those!
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Old 07-01-09, 02:27 PM
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Buy the book here: http://www.goaheadtakethewheel.com/Home_Page.html

It will be one of the best investments.

Start reading the GCR - SCCA or CCR - NASA depending on who you will be racing with.

The going rate on a used SRX7 is about $2k-$6k with $3k being about average, so you did fine. I share a shop with 6 of them.

Crew? Yeah it would be nice, but can be done with out. I've never had crew, even at comp school where I showed up with a car only on a truck and trailer I purchased a week prior. I didn't even have an air pressure gauge or a can of gas with me, just a race car put together by some shop that claimed to know what they were doing and stuck with me a gigantic invoice (and a car that had to get towed off track more than once for mechanical reasons). Needless to say it wasn't a fun weekend but somehow I passed and was racing a month later.
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Old 07-01-09, 07:55 PM
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^Great book.


Where is that Boat that you live on?

Make friends with the locals at the race track. Most racers are pretty friendly and willing to share experience. I've learned a lot walking the pits talking to people.

NASA might be a good start also depending on your skill level. You have to go through the ranks of their HPDE until you have proven that you are safe to drive in race conditions and moved up the HPDE ranks. It also makes for good track time for tuning and debugging.
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Old 07-01-09, 09:15 PM
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Yeah where are you at? Knowing that will help us recommend local organizations to you

Having even one friend along as "crew" can go a long way to making things easier at the track, and I'm sure you can scrounge up a friend who's interested in doing HPDE.
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Old 07-01-09, 09:37 PM
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First, you aren't one of the people that burned up one of 4 brand new clutches in the Mazdaspeed 6's in DC on the first day of the last ZoomZoom Live are you? The whole course smelled like low tide all morning...

No? OK, you'll be fine.

Read the above mentioned book. Find a friend that knows a little more than how to change the gas on a car, he is your "crew."

The biggest thing to remember for your first school is that they don't really care how fast you are. The biggest thing is do you stay on the line. There is nothing worse than coming up behind a back marker and they are all over the track, it is easier if you know they are going to be on the line. Its much safer to pass. That and acknowledge the corner workers for every flag they wave, a head nod or lifting a finger (from your death grip) on the wheel. They will see it.

I recently acted as a Sherpa/Crew for a friend at a double school at Roebling Road. He had some HPDE time in his 350Z and said that it really helped. You will end up with about 3hrs of track time at an SCCA school. This includes some time in your instructors car being shown the line etc. Take it easy on your car, the 2+ hours of track time in one weekend is pretty tough on it.

You will need to go to two schools. You'll be suprised how much more confident you will be in the second one.
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Old 07-02-09, 08:37 AM
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I'm in Woodbridge, VA, Just south of Washington D.C.

I'm gonna be running in the SCCA MARRS I believe. I've been a member of the Spec-7 mailing list for three years now, gathering the parts.


Side note, "Almost Heaven" was that "Rotor Vs Piston"'s car that you bought, the FB with the GSL-SE suspension and the SR20DET engine? I hadn't ridden in it since the SBC 350 came out of it. I'd like to check it out sometime.
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Old 07-02-09, 12:05 PM
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Cool, you should definitely check out NASA mid-atlantic. They do a lot of events at VIR and Summit Point. I don't know what class that SRX-7 will go in but I know I've seen them at the events with that group before.

It will be a while till you're ready to actually race, and NASA mid-atlantic's HPDE program and comp school are really good.

http://nasaracing.net/

There's still room in the upcoming event at VIR, which I am 90% confident that I'm going to:

https://www.nasaproracing.com/event/958
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Old 07-02-09, 01:00 PM
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You could also hit up Zoom Fest in Atlanta. Autocross and HPDE over the course of the weekend...
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Old 07-02-09, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Pele View Post
people are telling me on the Spec RX-7 mailing list that it's just not worth it to build as a first timer and that I should buy an already built Spec RX-7.
That all depends on your skill level. I hate it when people just blurt out it is cheaper to buy than build. I can build a better car myself then buying someones basket case. Not everyone can.

Just saying......You have a car and cage and suspension...... You can put all that together for under 3K and have a really nice "SPEC7".



Originally Posted by Pele View Post
Sooo... Once I've bougth the car... Cna anyone else share their experiences as to what I should be doing?
Try and drive it on the street if it is quiet enough. Seat time behind the wheel would be advantageous, even if it is on the street. drive it as much as you can stand. You will learn the car as well as find issues before your $400+ drivers school weekend.


Originally Posted by Pele View Post
-Buy a helmet, Snell AS rating, motorcycle is no good...
Snell, SA rated.

Originally Posted by Pele View Post
-Buy nomex suit, long johns, underoos, shoes, socks, etc...
Look into a 3 layer suit. (Check GCR) They can eliminate the need for nomex underwear. I personally feel more comfortable in a 3 layer than 2 layer with Nomex at the South East tracks.






Originally Posted by Pele View Post
Then what? What should I expect at driver's school?
They will be looking for improvement over the weekend. They do not expect you to be Mario on your first outing. In fact, I have seen someone told to leave for being an idiot on his first run. Be aware of your surroundings and stay within your current driving limits and you will be fine.

Originally Posted by Pele View Post
They say I'll need a crew. What should my crew know about, what should I prep them for?
Crew is nice for a drivers school. You will be bouncing from instructional meeting to the track. If you car is finicky, hard to start or just plain worn out you will be frustrated the whole weekend trying to do it all.

Most important rule number 2: Prep the car at home. Not at the track. Working on the car at the track should be reserved for major blow ups, crash damage and such. Prep the car at home.


Originally Posted by Pele View Post
I'd hate to trash my car on my first green flag. (Especially since I've NEVER paid more than $2400 for a vehicle,
Most important rule number 1: If you can not afford or feel OK with setting the car on fire and walking away....do not race it. Race cars are expendable items.


Originally Posted by Pele View Post
I'd hate to flunk outta driver's ed for being too much of a ***** or for being overly aggressive...
trust me.....There will be someone there slower than you and someone there faster than you. You job will be to get past the slower guy, safely, if you have been instructed it is permissible to pass. It will also be your job to stay alert to the faster guy and maintain your line when he passes you.
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Old 07-02-09, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by bwaits_ View Post


Crew is nice for a drivers school. You will be bouncing from instructional meeting to the track. If you car is finicky, hard to start or just plain worn out you will be frustrated the whole weekend trying to do it all.
Hehe, you just reminded me of a fun story. I was at VIR for a three-day weekend, the first day being test and tune, open track, supercomp school day. My buddy and I were done for the day and miraculously both of our cars were perfect, so we ended up wandering around the pits. We saw a couple of confused looking people gathered around a 944, turned out it had a demolished front wheel bearing. It was one of the supercomp school people's car, and he was off in the class, but his crew of friends didn't really know much about cars and we start telling them how to take it apart and to go around the other 944 trailers and see if they can mooch some spare parts. One of the guys was like "I dunno if he wants us to mess with his car..." to which we reply, "what, he's gonna be pissed if he gets out of class and his car is working again? Get moving!" Guy ended up being able to run the rest of the weekend.

Then we wandered off and fixed broken wheel studs on a spec E30... first event in maybe a year where neither of our cars needed anything and we didn't know what to do with ourselves.

Moral of the story? Bring spare parts too, I guess. I have a couple bins full of just about every part I could change myself at the track in under an hour that would end my weekend if it failed.
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Old 07-03-09, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Gene View Post
Moral of the story? Bring spare parts too, I guess. I have a couple bins full of just about every part I could change myself at the track in under an hour that would end my weekend if it failed.
Yep, spares are good.

My father did his driver school in a Red Devil Formula 440. I believe it was a 85 model. His weekend consisted of rebuilding the top end after every run. About 4 times he did this at the track during his driver school. Found out weeks later there was an issue will all '85 Red Devils that you could never get all the air out of the coolant system. About 5 laps into the run and the car would lock up on the back straight at Road Atlanta. He was frustrated all weekend but did pass.

Most important rule number 3: Never give up or give in. I have seen a motor swap in the middle of the woods of Arkansas using a tree and come-along during an SCCA Pro rally.

Rule number 3 was burned into my head one race at Charlotte in a Spec Racer Ford. I lost the belt due to a alternator bracket bolt shearing. Sheared flush to the engine block. It was in a tight spot and looked like we needed to move the motor and a 90 degree drill to attempt drilling it out. I was frustrated from not qualifying well and super hot so we packed it up and went home. Following Monday I reached in and the broken bolt came out by hand. In my haste, I never actually tried to see if the bolt was tight. That year we finished 3 points out of third place in the SE Division. Turned out If I had simply finished the race we would have been eligible for the run offs that year.........Never give up.


-billy
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Old 07-03-09, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by bwaits_ View Post
That all depends on your skill level. I hate it when people just blurt out it is cheaper to buy than build. I can build a better car myself then buying someones basket case. Not everyone can.

Just saying......You have a car and cage and suspension...... You can put all that together for under 3K and have a really nice "SPEC7".
I believe I actually got the Polyurethane bushings from you...

My skills include wrenching on RX-7s and almost any other car...
I've swapped engines, participated in engine rebuilds, and replaced any manner of consumable wear item (Clutch, brakes, wheel and clutch related bearings, etc.)

When it comes to Carburetor repair, Brake Caliper rebuilds, or internal transmission or rear axle components (Rear wheel bearings included) I have that outsourced. I don't trust myself to rebuild a caliper and I've failed to rebuild several briggs and stratton lawnmower carbs.

My specialty is electronics. I can wire up a car like nobody's business and have built my own MegaSquirt ECUs from the kits up to a full Ignition and Fuel Standalone unit.

I just learned to weld. I dunno if I trust myself not to burn through the car chassis with the MIG welder when putting that roll cage in... I learned to weld AFTER buying a $1200 welder. Thought I could teach myself, but I ended up having to take a Community College course.


I think I'm skilled enough to build a car, but what I've been told is that I can take the same Tokico shocks, RB springs, Poly busings, same cage, same 1985 RX-7 and build a car. Bret De'Pedro of RP Performance can take teh exact same components as me and the two cars will come out somehow different.

I don't understand, but apparently there's some art to building the car.



As far as spares go, I have an engine three trannies, two GSL Axles, a stack of calipers, used clutch discs, pressure plates, flywheels, three or four carbs in unknown condition, a freshly rebuilt unit by Sterling... And that's not counting a full parts car and the car that would have been my Spec-7, both of which were running, driving, and I'm fairly certain street legal a few years ago when they were parked.

Last edited by Pele; 07-03-09 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 07-03-09, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Pele View Post
I believe I actually got the Polyurethane bushings from you...

My skills include wrenching on RX-7s and almost any other car...
I've swapped engines, participated in engine rebuilds, and replaced any manner of consumable wear item (Clutch, brakes, wheel and clutch related bearings, etc.)

When it comes to Carburetor repair, Brake Caliper rebuilds, or internal transmission or rear axle components (Rear wheel bearings included) I have that outsourced. I don't trust myself to rebuild a caliper and I've failed to rebuild several briggs and stratton lawnmower carbs.

My specialty is electronics. I can wire up a car like nobody's business and have built my own MegaSquirt ECUs from the kits up to a full Ignition and Fuel Standalone unit.

I just learned to weld. I dunno if I trust myself not to burn through the car chassis with the MIG welder when putting that roll cage in... I learned to weld AFTER buying a $1200 welder. Thought I could teach myself, but I ended up having to take a Community College course.


I think I'm skilled enough to build a car, but what I've been told is that I can take the same Tokico shocks, RB springs, Poly busings, same cage, same 1985 RX-7 and build a car. Bret De'Pedro of RP Performance can take teh exact same components as me and the two cars will come out somehow different.

I don't understand, but apparently there's some art to building the car.



As far as spares go, I have an engine three trannies, two GSL Axles, a stack of calipers, used clutch discs, pressure plates, flywheels, three or four carbs in unknown condition, a freshly rebuilt unit by Sterling... And that's not counting a full parts car and the car that would have been my Spec-7, both of which were running, driving, and I'm fairly certain street legal a few years ago when they were parked.

you have plenty of pieces! just go drive...

there is a little bit of an art to building a car, experience mostly.

we're getting old and lazy, so we spend the time to get the car done before we leave for the track, and the MOST we do there is alignment/tire swapping.
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Old 07-03-09, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Pele View Post
Bret De'Pedro of RP Performance can take teh exact same components as me and the two cars will come out somehow different.
And my build would be a third version

It all comes down to experience on certain things as j9fd3s said. Does not mean that either of those 3 cars would be far off of each other. From what I remember "Spec7" is a bolt on style class. Isn't the suspension spec? Isn't the exhaust spec? Bolt the stuff on and go ITA and IT7 have a bit more room the play so the experience helps more.

You may want to splurge and have someone weld the cage for you. Then again, you may be perfectly qualified, I am not to judge. You pre fitting the tubes and tack welding them in place will do wonders on your welding cost if you go that route.


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Old 07-03-09, 04:28 PM
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To add to the spot welding plan... DON'T spot the whole cage before you take it to your chosen welder. If the cage is close to the roof it will make it near impossible to weld all the way around the tube. There are tricks to doing this and it involves the order you weld things up and some other little known cage builder tricks. PM me for details if you choose to build.

Even building it yourself it is hard to build a car for what you can buy one for. I do everything from the cage, suspension, engine, fglassbody and paint and I have way more in my car than I could get for it selling it. And that's not including my labor. You have 90% of a race car already, it just needs to be put together. Or, you have an awesome set of spares for your 3K car. If you want to drive this season, buy the finished car and load your spares into a truck and head for the track. Give the car a "nut and bolt" check, see what it needs. Have an SCCA tech person take a look at it, they will usually come over to your place for a box of adult beverages...

The other thing is, nobody will care what parts are on your car until you beat them. So if there is something you are not supposed to have keep your mouth shut and just drive. BUT, the guy that finishes behind you, in 8th place out of 8 cars in class, can protest you and you will lose your credit for the race. If you are nice, they will just say its time to make it right for the next time. People are not into protesting cars all the time they will just call you names behind your back. If they know you're just starting out they may loan you the damn part you need to be legal!
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Old 07-06-09, 03:08 PM
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I have been running SPEC7 in SoPac region for about 8 years. I built my car from my daily driver. Despite having a few high speed contact incidents with fixed objects, I am still driving the same car with at least half of the original paint still on the car. I recommend that you build the car yourself. Everything just bolts on (including the cage unless rules have changed). By doing the work yourself you will know how everything goes together and will be in the right frame of mind for keeping it in good running condition. Too many of the guys I race with don't do any work on their cars and end up at the track fixing stuff (acutally the guys who work on their own cars end up fixing stuff for them. Hmmm maybe that isn't such a bad plan afterall). There are some minor set-up things that Bret can probably do better, but I promise that you won't be able to tell the difference for the first year or two.

It sounds like you have just about everything you need, so just put it in the car you were planning on using. Strip out as much stuff as the rules allow though before you put the cage in place. It is a lot more work pulling it out later when you have to work around the cage. A couple weekends should get everything installed and ready.

Good luck and have fun.

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Old 07-07-09, 11:22 AM
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^

Okay, well, lemmie go with things I DON'T have that I know I'll need:

2nd passenger door bar for the passenger side. (Rules were changed to add this a few years back.)
Battery Kill Switch
Upgraded cooling system (I have some FC Oil coolers which I could build brackets to mount to the FB body... I do not have any aluminum radiators.)

I have not stripped out the interior sound deadening tar, nor do I have an air compressor for my air chisel.

I can not weld reliably enough to put the reinforcement plates in for the cage mounting points, nor do I have a place to plug in my welder.

I figured I'd rewire the basement for 240volt feeds for both the above pieces of equipment, but I kinda gotta clean up the basement before I do that...


Tires. (But I do have two and a half sets of Panasports.)


I do still think it'd be a lot cheaper to build than buy, but it's gonna take a lot more than a few weekends.
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Old 07-07-09, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Pele View Post
^
I do still think it'd be a lot cheaper to build than buy, but it's gonna take a lot more than a few weekends.
you need to decide what you want to accomplish.

dialing in a NEW car and DRIVER is going to take at least a season.

so are you doing this to build a car? are you going out there to have fun, or do you want to win?

if you want to win, buy the built car, and start F-ing driving it!

if you wanna build a car, and go drive it and have a good time, do it! but you wont make it to the track this season, its half over
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Old 07-08-09, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by bwaits_ View Post
Most important rule number 1: If you can not afford or feel OK with setting the car on fire and walking away....do not race it. Race cars are expendable items.
BTW: Any of my personal property is an expendable item. I will definitely be able to afford to wreck up the car... However, setting the car on fire would be completely equal to taking a stack of thirty $100 bills and setting them all on fire.

I would never do this... I don't think you would ever do this... I don't think anyone on this forum knows anyone who would do this unless they were freezing to death.

I understand there is going to be some contact. I understand there is going to be a lot of component replacement...

However, to get out there and flip the car over or get hit so hard it tweaks the frame enough to make the car useless on Turn 1 at Summit Point during my first lap of driving school would be a hell of a downer.
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Old 07-08-09, 12:45 PM
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He's not saying intentionally destroy things, he's just saying that mentally you have to accept that every time you put the car on the track could be the last time.
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Old 07-08-09, 01:03 PM
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Bright side of balling up a car is you get to pull all the goodies off the carcass and build the next one better!

I have seen some cars get rebuilt from a twisted hulk just because the owner could. He said the car already knows all the tracks he runs on, he'd hate to have to train a new one. (This was an old,real, BMW 2002tii that got converted to FP IIRC after being balled up as an IT car.)
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Old 07-08-09, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Gene View Post
He's not saying intentionally destroy things, he's just saying that mentally you have to accept that every time you put the car on the track could be the last time.
Exactly. You must also remember that there will be 30+ other people on the track as well. Their bad day could result in you tailoring a little ball home.

Originally Posted by jgrewe View Post
Bright side of balling up a car is you get to pull all the goodies off the carcass and build the next one better!
The next build is always better

-billy
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Old 07-08-09, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bwaits_ View Post
Exactly. You must also remember that there will be 30+ other people on the track as well. Their bad day could result in you tailoring a little ball home.



The next build is always better

-billy
Hence why I bought a flat bed tow truck to haul to and from the track. I never know if it'll make it on for or even two wheels...

But still. I'd rather wreck up the car I paid $250 for than the one I paid $3000+ for.

I'm fully prepared to wreck it. I think they nicknamed "Spec7" to "Wreck7" due to all the contact.

I just don't want to wreck it due to my noobishness. I already learned that lesson on the first FB at 19 on the public roads.
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Old 07-08-09, 10:28 PM
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Doing a couple seasons of HPDE will go a long way towards reducing your noobishness
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