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Would learning on an FF put me at a disadvantage?

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Would learning on an FF put me at a disadvantage?

Old 07-06-06, 12:42 AM
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Would learning on an FF put me at a disadvantage?

Hello-

Rather than go into a back story, I'll just get right to the point: I'm 17 years old and very desperately want to become a really good driver. As in to the point of obsession, with it being all I think about, focus on, and strive for. Although I'm starting a little late compared to many in the sport, I'm going to begin karting very soon. Yet I still need to find my personal street car to do autocross, track days, and HPDE (So my skills can also apply to sports cars rather than just open wheelers, plus of course for some fun transportation). Needless to say my passion is an expensive one, but I'm not asking for advice on that...

I'm running into a wall, mainly because of my Mom and insurance. The car has to be in her name since I'm 17, and insurance rates for a driver my age are outrageous even if I were to wait and buy when I'm 18. I'm trading in my current car and using some saved money, so I have a nice number to play with for someone my age (the lower the better, but I can finance up to about 17k). I've been trying to think of an FR or MR vehicle to use. But my Mom refuses to sign for something older than the mid-nineties and something of less or near value of the yearly insurance (she thinks it's a waste of money), so either the car is too old (Miata, FC, 944, AW11, etc.), or the insurance is too high for me (MR2 turbo, FD, S2000, Corvette, etc. ). Since I don't want a 240SX, Mustang, or F-Body, and the Euro luxury cars aren't my taste, I literally can't think of ANYTHING rear-wheel drive that isn't too old nor too expensive to insure.

So accordingly, I've started considering FF's. EK Civic hatches and Integras to be exact. Both have great handling and lower insurance (the Civic more so than the 'Teg), but this leads to my question in the thread title: because majority of racing cars and racing classes are or are made for F/MR platforms, would I be at a disadvantage by not having experience racing one? I'm not trying to spend a lot effort and money on something that won't reap necessary benefits or skill. I would have karting, but I've heard the technique required for karts doesn't really transcend to sports cars.

Sorry for the long post, but I thank those who offer advice and knowledge in advance.
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Old 07-06-06, 01:09 AM
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You'd be at a disadvantage only in that rear-wheel drive is more fun...
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Old 07-06-06, 01:36 AM
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No, you won't be at a disadvantage, you'll learn your car. I know plenty of folks who drive very fast on front wheel drive platforms. However, stop watching Initial D... FF indeed.
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Old 07-06-06, 02:05 AM
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Drive your car at an autox, compare, and see which suits your driving style.
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Old 07-06-06, 08:20 AM
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Grow up
Get a job
Pay for your own car
Pay for your own insurance

Preferably get all of the above done first.


-Ted
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Old 07-06-06, 10:32 AM
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It will help you to drive a FWD car because you will learn the limits of the car, and what it feels to be at those limits. But on the other hand I've found that driving a FWD vs. RWD is a pretty big difference in driving style, mostly on the AutoX course. Probably mostly due to low speeds which makes it easier to spin the tires and slide or pull the car around a turn. Track days will be alittle different, but not nearly as different as an AutoX.

You will gain experience and seat time in either which is really the most important.

Carts will help you also. It probably is a really big jump from somthing so light to something so heavy, but either way they will help you. Learning the techniques, such as catching a slide, is the main goal and you can transfer those to a car.
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Old 07-06-06, 11:26 AM
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If you are 17 you have absolutely no NEED for a $17K car, unless you are gonna go for something brand new under warranty, that you aren't going to mess with and will be reliable transportation all the way through college.... Sometimes I wish I would have went that route, but...lets be realistic.

My first semi sports car was a fwd Acura Integra Type R that i bought when I got my first REAL job. I autoxed it locally, actually won a couple of times (light competition) and it really opened my eyes to the sports car world. Then I turned it into a racecar..yada..yada...It was a fun car, but the principals of driving that car fast on a race track, are different than rwd....just slightly, but at the same time very different.

When I got into my old E36 M3 and this 89 325i I started to realize the differences, these are the cars I really learned to drive fast in and they are both GREAT cars to learn with. The M3 became my daily driver when the type r was a racecar and I found myself driving the M3 on track more than the ITR because I liked the way it felt. The M3 and the e30 325i are very similar...obviously the M3 is a little quicker, but the E30 style BMW is an amazing car from a cost benefit standpoint. You could pick one up for $3K pay next to nothing for insurance, and be on the track with as little as $2K more invested into track specific gear. And they are next to bulletproof. I have 200K+ miles including loads of track time, and it has never seen anything besides timing belts and normal maintenance. OE clutch still bites hard!

If you need something brand new or world class (corvette, s2000, fd) then you have the priorities wrong. I thought I wanted the same thing 10 years ago, but now I know for sure it would have been the wrong way to go about it, even if I could find a way to afford it.

So my recommendation is: sacrifice a little style for a rwd track car....namely a e30 - e36 bmw...

But I guess I am a little biased

Last edited by cozmo kraemer; 07-06-06 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 07-06-06, 11:48 AM
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Thats not a bad idea, just buy something cheap(used civic to drive daily), and then buy an E30 and make a track car. Spend say 7-10k on the daily and 5-7k on the track car and you will be alot happier with a car you can beat to death and not worry about it breaking and being without a ride. Insurance on an 80's BMW can't be very much even if you are only 17.

I actually plan to go with an E30 for a track car in the near future, I've heard many good things about making them into a true race/track car. Also there are many options on where to race, and who to race with(SCCA, BMWCCA, NASA, etc.).

I actually wish I had went this route looking back, but oh well my car when I was in college is paid off and now my daily, my rx7 is my fun/track car, and hopefully will just be my fun car within the next 2-3yrs.

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Old 07-06-06, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by SPICcnmGT
Thats not a bad idea, just buy something cheap(used civic to drive daily), and then buy an E30 and make a track car. Spend say 7-10k on the daily and 5-7k on the track car and you will be alot happier with a car you can beat to death and not worry about it breaking and being without a ride. Insurance on an 80's BMW can't be very much even if you are only 17.

I actually plan to go with an E30 for a track car in the near future, I've heard many good things about making them into a true race/track car. Also there are many options on where to race, and who to race with(SCCA, BMWCCA, NASA, etc.).

I actually wish I had went this route looking back, but oh well my car when I was in college is paid off and now my daily, my rx7 is my fun/track car, and hopefully will just be my fun car within the next 2-3yrs.
I honestly wouldn't go the two car route at 17. It would have you overly committed. Instead I would figure out what is really important and then do the best I could to minimize costs while going that route. If it is learning an rwd car...then find a way...if it is driving an Integra on the road and track....then find a way.

From where I stand....a BMW will almost always out do a Honda in terms of style. You can make an e30 pretty cool...but it will always be old. So if that is something difficult to get over, then you have to explore other options.

here is my e30 with 190K on the clock, I picked it up track ready for $4k, it gets 24 mpg and i pay about $50 a month for insurance

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Old 07-06-06, 12:48 PM
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This may be thinking outside the box but why not get a pickup truck for the street and find an old club ford open wheel car? Driving a tow vehicle will keep you out of trouble on the street when you want to show your friends what an incredible driver you are and you can auto-x the club ford. You can get a club ford for around $6-8000 with a few spares thrown in. That is what you'll have in a good complete kart set up. And the club ford is safer than a kart so you can sell the idea to mom easier, "I'm just going to auto-x it mom..."
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Old 07-06-06, 02:30 PM
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I drove a used VW GTI through high school and college and tracked it regularly with some autox thrown in. It was fun, reasonably reliable and I was able to drive it everywhere w/o worrying about it. Bought an RX7 when I graduated and had a real job.

Your principal concern should be not spending *all* your money on a car. Get school done then spend your own money. College is f'in expensive.

If you need something mid-90s, check out Hondas and BMWs. The Hondas are great and inexpensive to own. The 93-95 e36 BMW (non-M3s are cheap and reliable) but a little more money to own/maintain. A lot of what you learn will transfer over, but the RWD cars will be more fun.

Karting is a blast and best bang for the buck. I learned more in 1 season of karting than with a couple of seasons of autox and track days combined and didn't have to worry about wrecking my only car on track. And it is bucket load less expensive. A nice 100cc, ITG or Rotax classed kart can be had for $2-4k. I have a feeling once you really start karting you'll realize this as well.

Remember, many of the pro-drivers started out karting...
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Old 07-06-06, 02:35 PM
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I can understand the desire to become a better driver and maybe even compete one day at a professionally/amateur level. You would be better off focusing on karting.... if you aren't winning there.... then you need to hone your skills before shifting your focus. Practice... practice... practice.

A used '86-88 n/a RX-7 can be purchased for under $2K all day long. Some $1K coilovers, sticky tires on stock 15x6.5" rims (BBS convertible), upgraded sway bars, and performance alignment woudl be a great car. If you total it... not a big deal as you could easily find another shell. They handle awesome but are just down on power a little. I drove one of these with 100% stock motor and was all over a 240hp early 90's 3.2i M3 that was prepped for the road race course with 14" AP brakes. In the corners I was on his ***. On the straights he would pull away... and I'd catch back up in the twisties.

You should think about maybe picking up a Miata that has been prepped for racing. There are a lot out there... rims are cheap as are tires... plus they handle killer. Rebuilt/used engines are inexpensive. Bottom line as you know racing is $$$.... and 99% of the racers in the sport don't get paid for it and are paying for it out of their pockets in one form or another.

Have fun and be safe. You are only 17 and need to take racing in baby steps. Get a job and go to college. That should be your main focus. You can get a job in college working somehow with Motorsports.

It costs me easily $750/weekend to race my FD. Hotel, food, entry fee, tires, brake pads, gas... and that is if I don't break any parts. I do HPDE TTU (TimeTrialUnlimited) and run discontinued (discounted) Hoosiers. Your weekend cost would probably be similar... just less money spent on gas no matter what you drive.

You don't find many 17 year olds in racing unless it is a family affair. Because it costs $$$..... lots of it at any level. Karting is the most economical for sure... and all major race car drivers have evolved from there. Who ever said that skills learned from karting don't transfer over to larger vehicles (heavier/more power) is full of SH*T.

If you aren't winning major regional championships in karting... then that should be your goal. A good used kart is $5K+..... drive a POS daily driver and spend the $$$ on karting. 17 year olds aren't supposed to be driving $20K vehicles. You are still learning how to drive a car anyway and building up your skillset.
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Old 07-06-06, 03:13 PM
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Yeah, a kart can actually get you a career in racing (if that's your goal). Even the coolest sports car is just gonna get you from point A to point B...albiet in style.
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Old 07-06-06, 03:54 PM
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No, you won't be at a disadvantage, you'll learn your car. I know plenty of folks who drive very fast on front wheel drive platforms. However, stop watching Initial D... FF indeed.
I don't mean at a disadvantage in a race against another drive layout. I mean will the skills I learn by driving an FF be applicable to something RWD.

And I'm not understanding what you mention Initial D for. I don't know what you're trying to imply, but I don't really give a **** about drifting, nor do I watch the show. It IS possible for someone my age to develop a love for motorsports without the help of a fictional cartoon.

As far as the cost of the car, 17k is the limit I can afford to make 60 month payments with. I'm planning on putting my money on karting rather than trying to race cars for now, so I was thinking more along the lines of 10k (with payments), but I really need to find a car to buy first.

I graduated this year, I have a job, and I start college in the fall.

Unless you guys mean buying them as a dedicated track cars I wouldn't drive on the street, FC's, Miatas, and E30's are too old. But even if you did mean as track cars, I'm don't think my already strained budget could handle a street car, a track car, track fees, a kart, and karting fees.

I could probably get a 98+ NB Miata, but I honestly don't like the looks of them, and want to enjoy what I'm spending my hard-earned money on. Although I hear they aren't as good for grip driving, I'm now kind of considering buying a 240SX. I figure learning the basics on any ligther FR is better than nothing, and I think it could be okay (and still reliable) if I throw ~1-2k into it and set it up for a stock autocross class (I'm not sure which they fall into, though).

Last edited by Killer With The Beat y0.; 07-06-06 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 07-06-06, 04:38 PM
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Forget the "looks" and try to see the package. Personally, if I was you, Karting and nothing else. Take a look at Scott Speed, he was hand picked from Karting by Red Bull to race F-1 what does that tell you. I mean Damn!! That kid is out there giving DC a run for his money in a older chassis.

If I had to pick between a Miata and 240 it would be Miata hands down. Think Mazdaspeed support. Parts are cheaper than a mechanic can get them. What is nissan doing for the 240 crowd?? Plus a Miata has lots and lots and lots of aftermarket support aimed at motorsports.


But above all else stick with the Karting. Its the best place to learn your skills.
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Old 07-06-06, 05:42 PM
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Buy the best car you can afford with NO payments.

That is the way to go. I had never financed a car until I took a small loan for this FD and even that has me saying I wont do it again (unless there is some 0% deal on a used car).

The financial burden of regular monthly payments is not what you need to be worrying about when you go through college...there are PLENTY of other things, trust me!

Personally I would have loved to have this E30 when I was 18. Hell, I love it now! It is really a great car with its versatility, affordability, and reliability! And did I mention it is cheap and easy to work on? A great car to, "get into cars," with.
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Old 07-06-06, 05:46 PM
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Forget the "looks" and try to see the package. Personally, if I was you, Karting and nothing else. Take a look at Scott Speed, he was hand picked from Karting by Red Bull to race F-1 what does that tell you. I mean Damn!! That kid is out there giving DC a run for his money in a older chassis.

If I had to pick between a Miata and 240 it would be Miata hands down. Think Mazdaspeed support. Parts are cheaper than a mechanic can get them. What is nissan doing for the 240 crowd?? Plus a Miata has lots and lots and lots of aftermarket support aimed at motorsports.


But above all else stick with the Karting. Its the best place to learn your skills.
Well Scott Speed didn't move directly from karting. He went from karting to formula series' (Star Mazda and Barber Formula Dodge I think), and then was reccomended for the Toro Rosso driver search. Like many open-wheel champions, he also started when he was very young. But I know what you're trying to say; success in karting can expand to a lot more oppourtunities than sports cars.

If I were trying to focus entirely on cars then I would focus more on pure performance, but like I said, the car I get isn't going to be a racecar. It'll just be something to learn with and drive around. So accordingly, I'd like to take pride in the typical aspects behind the purchase of a daily driver and recreational racer (decent performance along with attractive qualities). I don't really need a manufacturer's motorsports division support for a few autocrosses and track days every month.
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Old 07-06-06, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Killer With The Beat y0.
Well Scott Speed didn't move directly from karting. He went from karting to formula series' (Star Mazda and Barber Formula Dodge I think), and then was reccomended for the Toro Rosso driver search. Like many open-wheel champions, he also started when he was very young. But I know what you're trying to say; success in karting can expand to a lot more oppourtunities than sports cars.

If I were trying to focus entirely on cars then I would focus more on pure performance, but like I said, the car I get isn't going to be a racecar. It'll just be something to learn with and drive around. So accordingly, I'd like to take pride in the typical aspects behind the purchase of a daily driver and recreational racer (decent performance along with attractive qualities). I don't really need a manufacturer's motorsports division support for a few autocrosses and track days every month.
Maybe I am wrong but I thought Scott never planted his *** in a car racing until F3000. He had a few Karting championships under his belt and that was it. I love what Red Bull did BTW and hope Scott and rise up over the years.

Trust me on the manufactorers support it is a godsend. You say now it is not important until you start breaking stuff and trust me you will. Not so much in AX as you will on the track.

If your focusing on cars only, a N/A RX-7 with a really good suspension and cooling system will serve you well. A miata will too. Although the engine will start to get loose after a few seasons.

FWD - MINI Cooper S can be had for an affordable price and will be lots of fun on the track and get you good gas milage off.

Good luck, I wish I had the ***** to dive in when I was 17. I was a late bloomer and got into it at 35.
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Old 07-06-06, 10:13 PM
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I didn't start doing motorsports until recently. I'm using my FD. God I wish I did everything different. I was the first in my family to get involved. Knowing what I know now, I'd go the route that most of these guys suggest. And while my *** is posting, is the E30 rear wheel drive? I never even considered that for a track car. My sister and I are sourcing one for her.
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Old 07-07-06, 12:15 AM
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Although he won the Red Bull driver's search, he's really a joke in F1.
I think you're getting mesmerized with the thoughts of doing competitive race car driving.
Unless you got the skills to compete at that level, get your college degree under your belt first.
Life is tough.
Reality is tough.
Starry-eyed youth is nice sometimes...


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Old 07-07-06, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by RETed
Although he won the Red Bull driver's search, he's really a joke in F1.
I think you're getting mesmerized with the thoughts of doing competitive race car driving.
Unless you got the skills to compete at that level, get your college degree under your belt first.
Life is tough.
Reality is tough.
Starry-eyed youth is nice sometimes...


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How is a middle pack runner in a chassis that is outdated a Joke?

He is holding his own out there. If you said Ide is a joke I would agree 100%. Next year Scott gets a new car (hopefully) and then we can see what he is made of. He did very well in the F-3000 series. I am looking foward to him maturing into a great driver. Its good to see an American in there.
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Old 07-07-06, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Killer With The Beat y0.
If I were trying to focus entirely on cars then I would focus more on pure performance, but like I said, the car I get isn't going to be a racecar. It'll just be something to learn with and drive around. So accordingly, I'd like to take pride in the typical aspects behind the purchase of a daily driver and recreational racer (decent performance along with attractive qualities). I don't really need a manufacturer's motorsports division support for a few autocrosses and track days every month.
Given the above info I'm sure you'll be fine with a RWD e36 325 or some kind of sporty FWD car like a Civic, Integra, GTI etc.

FWIW, when I started karting it was with a used KT100 kart that I bought for $1,800 with some spares. I won the rookie class in the first season with that kart and motor. Put a small hitch on the car and buy a small open trailer from harbor freight for $100 and you got both karting and opentrack/autox covered
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Old 07-07-06, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Larz
And while my *** is posting, is the E30 rear wheel drive? I never even considered that for a track car.
All BMWs are rear drive...well except the IX models they are all wheel drive.

To my knowledge BMW has never made a front wheel drive vehicle.

The e30 is a great track car, I am suprised you haven't seen one around if you have been to track days. My track events are dominated by them and Miatas...they are all over.
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Old 07-07-06, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Jims5543
How is a middle pack runner in a chassis that is outdated a Joke?

He is holding his own out there. If you said Ide is a joke I would agree 100%. Next year Scott gets a new car (hopefully) and then we can see what he is made of. He did very well in the F-3000 series. I am looking foward to him maturing into a great driver. Its good to see an American in there.
Middle pack?

U.S. - DNF
Canada - 10 / 15
Britain - DNF
Monaco - 13 / 17
Spain - DNF
Europe (Nurburgring) - 11 / 13
San Marino - 15 / 16
Australia - 9 / 13
Malaysia - DNF
Bahrain - 13 / 18

He hasn't gotten a single championship point.
Out of 24 listed drivers for this season, he is 1 out of 7 that hasn't scored a single point.

Middle pack?
I wouldn't even call him that.
Look at the standings when he did not DNF - I have listed his finishing place versus # of cars still in the race.
He only has a 60% finishing rate.

For someone who is supposedly the best coming from the USA?
I would think it's pretty abysmal.


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Old 07-07-06, 11:58 AM
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You simply can't get anywhere near the amount of seat time in anything else outside of karts. That's the thing you need most to get really good, lots and lots of seat time.

The racing line doesn't change much in bigger cars. The racing strategy too. There will be differences in weight balance and traction but they are quickly picked up. Practice, practice practice.

Ok, you may not like the looks of a Miata but it is a real race car underneath. And a 2000 can be had for $10K if you can't allow an older one.

Starting out racing on a budget? I would choose a Miata with a trailer hitch and a kart. The Miata has good balance and you can take it autocrossing and occasional track days if you get a roll bar. And you can spend all your free time at the track on a kart. Maybe later you could convert the Miata to a spec Miata and continue learning.

Or you could try to save money. Get any old beater and a kart. One of my cars is a Suzuki Swift GT ($3000 for a super clean GT) . The car is a bit top heavy but it handles well for a FWD. It's very lightweight so it's peppy even with a small engine (about the same power to weight as an FC). It's light enough to get away with running race tires on the street. And it gets great MPG so you have more money for the kart.

If you worry about style when you race, you will waste a LOT of money.
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