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Returning to racing, which car?

Old 06-13-06, 11:20 PM
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Returning to racing, which car?

I'm considering returning to auto racing. Not so much to win trophies, but to get out on the track and have fun, work on and perfect the car, maybe SCCA Solo 1 or beyond. The question I'm debating is which car. I have a 1994 FD, low mileage in pristine condition. It wouldn't take a lot to get it on the track. On the other hand, I have a 1991 FC coupe that has 185,000 miles and a recently discovered blown engine. The car handles very neutral, and quite frankly, I think I'd prefer it on the track to the FD (the FD scares the bejesus out of me at speed and I'm not sure I want to risk damaging a pristine FD). I'm interested in rebuilding the engine in the 91 myself and doing a home made bridge port, upgraded fuel system, etc. I don't care if it takes 2 or 3 years to rebuild it as a dedicated track car (based on finances). Am I overly optimistic that the 1991 is the way to go or would I be cheaper off finding another roller FD and ease into its quirky handling?
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Old 06-14-06, 12:51 AM
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If you want to go road racing in the SCCA there's really only one sensible choice, the FC. Prep it to ITS standards and have fun. The FD has no class, other than catch all regional classes where it's all about how many cubic dollars you have. With NASA you can race just about anything with their points system (forget what they call that class, sedan or something?) where mods are given points to add to the car's base level and you are classed accordingly (fast with fast, slow with slow, or so the theory goes). Racing an FC will probably be cheaper to build and to run, and the car itself is worth significantly less, so if/when you crash, it's less of a financial hit.

Better yet, buy a fully prepped, race proven car, it'll cost you less than half of what it'll cost you in the long run to properly race prep a car to a competetive level.
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Old 06-14-06, 04:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Black91n/a
With NASA you can race just about anything with their points system (forget what they call that class, sedan or something?) where mods are given points to add to the car's base level and you are classed accordingly (fast with fast, slow with slow, or so the theory goes).
It's called Performance Touring. http://www.performancetouring.com/
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Old 06-14-06, 08:33 AM
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Basically I came to the same conclustion as you did - I have an FD and potentially balling it up on the track wasn't my idea of a good time. Besides, I like driving it on the street and some of the racing mods would make this much less attractive (roll bar, seats, AC removal, stiffer suspension, etc.) I read some of Chris Regan's (aka. Crispy) web pages at:

http://www.negative-camber.org/crispyrx7/fc/fcpart1.htm

and decided to take the plunge.

I bought a stripped shell and started building a track car, but after several false starts I found a great deal on an already built car and grabbed it. Right now I'm just planning on running track days and time trials on it, but eventually may look into SCCA ITS.

So go for it, and you don't have to have a gazillion horsepower to have a blast at the track.

-bill
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Old 06-15-06, 04:43 AM
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That's good advice, Black91n/a . NASA sounds interesting. I'm going to do a little research on where they hold events. The car really doesn't have to be all that competitive, just safe. I found out a long time ago doing serious SCCA Solo II events that there was always someone out there that had more experience, money or more fool-proof ways of getting around the judges that it wasn't really worth my angst to get into serious competition for a checkered flag. Simply bettering my time and car with each event is my goal here. If I come in last, I don't care anymore.
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Old 06-15-06, 05:07 AM
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Wrankin: The cars Crispy and I own have a lot in common. Beside the engine and the need for a manual swap, mine is probably in 100 percent better shape, overall. I'll take that $1,000 purchase price and put it into an Atkins rebuild kit. This is going to be interesting. The wife is not going to be happy.

Out of curiosity, when you say great price on a built car, what sort of car and how much, if I might be so brazen? I used to see a lot of used Formula Fords go for very affordable prices at Hallet but the cost of maintaining them over the course of a season was cost prohibitive.
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Old 06-15-06, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Mazda99Nikon
Out of curiosity, when you say great price on a built car, what sort of car and how much, if I might be so brazen? I used to see a lot of used Formula Fords go for very affordable prices at Hallet but the cost of maintaining them over the course of a season was cost prohibitive.
Since it was advertised here on the forum, here is the link to the car:

https://www.rx7club.com/showthread.php?t=460610

Very similar to Crispy's build-up, but without the full-cage. I'll hopefully be tracking it for the first time this weekend at VIR.

To bring this back to topic: here is an example as to why it is almost always better to buy a built car rather than starting from a shell, esp. a non-running one. The return on investment for second hand race cars tends to be less than 50 cents on the dollar. When I started my initial FC build, I had a bare shell with the suspansion installed and all the rest of the parts (incl. a blown engine) sitting nearby. When I saw the above car for sale, I did the quick math and realized that I would have to spend about twice as much to build the exact same car from scratch.

If you look at the classifieds in http://itforum.improvedtouring.com/forums/ you will see some gret examples of complete ready-to-race cars for under $5k. There is a well built ITA class RX-7 up there now for $4900 with tons of spares.

Last note: the SCCA is currently considering adding another class to IT for higher power cars above ITS. This class will be called ITR. If this class get's approved and the BMWs get moved up from ITS (where they currently dominate) to this new class, then the FC may be one of the cars to have to be competitive in ITS. The 944's and older Datsun 2X0Z's will also be good runners.

-bill

Last edited by wrankin; 06-15-06 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 06-15-06, 01:11 PM
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FC bang for the buck can't be beat.

If a stock FD scares you at speed..... stick with the n/a FC.
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Old 06-15-06, 10:12 PM
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Wrankin: You've got me almost convinced. Your car was a great deal. Buying someone else's 800 mile rotary race car is an act of faith, even at $4,500, however. Did you do a compression check, first? That's one of the things that keep me coming back to rebuild my own engine. I know what's inside. If I screw it up, I'll learn from my mistakes and save money down the road by getting it right on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th rebuild. I would get a great deal of satisfaction just being able to tear one down and put it back together and get it out on the track for even one season. I've been told most of our engines last about 2-3 seasons at best. Any truth to that? That's definitely got to be a consideration in the total budget.

You've been so helpful. Thanks.

Relative to driving the FD at speed. I've had it up to 135 or so on a remote freeway entrance ramp. I can't imagine driving at that speed in traffic even with a year or two of experience. Having worked corners at Hallet for some major races, I can say I've seen plenty of veterans tear up their expensive modified Corvettes, not because they were bad drivers, but because too many bad factors added up to an inescapable wreck.
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Old 06-15-06, 10:34 PM
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I think it's pretty much agreeable that the best bang for your buck in motorsports is a first-gen RX-7...

Especially the Pro-7 class.

(or so I've heard...)
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Old 06-16-06, 07:54 AM
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Wow, lots to reply to.

Originally Posted by Mazda99Nikon
Wrankin: You've got me almost convinced. Your car was a great deal. Buying someone else's 800 mile rotary race car is an act of faith, even at $4,500, however. Did you do a compression check, first?
Actually, I didn't. In this case, I felt it was a minimal risk. The seller of the car, Paul, is well know amonst the RX-7 track crowd in the DC area. So the basic level of trust could be established. He indicated that the car ran well and I had no reason to doubt his word. The engine was a reman, so this wasn't a "backyard rebuild". When I went up to Maryland to look at the car, it started up fine and warmed up to idle with no problems. A compression test would not have told me much of anything more.

That's one of the things that keep me coming back to rebuild my own engine. I know what's inside. If I screw it up, I'll learn from my mistakes and save money down the road by getting it right on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th rebuild. I would get a great deal of satisfaction just being able to tear one down and put it back together and get it out on the track for even one season.
I absolutely agree with you - there is a lot of good experience and knowledge to be gained in buiilding your own. And a lot of satisfaction. I just decided that I would gain that experience the second and third time around, rather then the first. Inevitably I will find myself working on almost every part of the car as time progresses. But I can do it on my own schedule. And I can drive it in the meantime.

I have a long punchlist of things that I need to do to the car. For example: remove the sunroof mechanism and bolt the cover down. It's not important right now, but it's something I need to eventually do.

So, the question comes down to one of what are you looking to get out of this experience: do you want to wrench or do you want to race? (Do you want to surf or do you want to fight? )

I've been told most of our engines last about 2-3 seasons at best. Any truth to that? That's definitely got to be a consideration in the total budget.
That's kind of a crapshoot. The Formula Mazda guys were were getting 2-3 seasons out of an engine and staying competitive. After that, the engines still ran fine, but were slightly down on power (probably down on compression, but still within spec of what you would get from many rebuilders). In a spec series like this, a few RWHP makes the difference, whereas it is much less important in the lower club racing levels like IT or NASA.

I have friends who have raced an FB with the original 12A that came with the car. I have crewed for a team running a 13 hour enduro with a rotary that had many many seasons on it (the engine ran fine, but the tranny started giving us problems wih 3 hours left )

On the otherhand, Crispy's S4 engine burfed up an oil seal after a couple schools (it was an old engine) so unfortunately you are never quite sure when it's going to happen to you. So the experience of having to rebuild an engine on short notice is almost an inevitability.

Hope this helps,

-bill

Last edited by wrankin; 06-16-06 at 07:56 AM.
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