Anyone race cars?

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8/16/2019 7:00 AM

I have always dreamed of racing cars but haven’t really had the means until now. I have no experience at all in car racing and don’t have anyone close to me who races. I have a engineering degree so half the fun to me would be building the car but I honestly wouldn’t know where to start. Is there any information out there on how?

How would I go about getting started? I have thought about buying a go kart but I’m a little on the heavy side for those(225 lbs). I also have an old Pontiac sunfire that would be a mediocre buzz class car from the info I can find but I don’t know a ton about building a cage for it.

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8/16/2019 7:20 AM
Edited Date/Time: 8/16/2019 7:24 AM

Go to your closest dirt track, buy a pit pass, walk up to the first car that catches your eye and tell the guys around it you wanna work and learn. Keep your head on a swivel and pay attention to everything you hear and see.

Buy you a Jimmy Sills book on whatever car you prefer (open wheel or fenders) and learn about rolls centers, cross weight, CG, sprung vs unsprung weight, steering ackerman, bump-steer, nuances of caster/camber/toe, reasons for spring rates, reasons for multivalve shocks (tie-down - easy-up, etc.)

Pay your dues and start at the bottom. Its worth the effort.



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"We don't rent pigs."

8/16/2019 10:04 AM

Mazda Miata, cant go wrong there

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8/16/2019 10:24 AM

JAFO92 wrote:

Go to your closest dirt track, buy a pit pass, walk up to the first car that catches your eye and tell the guys around it you wanna work and learn. Keep your head on a swivel and pay attention to everything you hear and see.

Buy you a Jimmy Sills book on whatever car you prefer (open wheel or fenders) and learn about rolls centers, cross weight, CG, sprung vs unsprung weight, steering ackerman, bump-steer, nuances of caster/camber/toe, reasons for spring rates, reasons for multivalve shocks (tie-down - easy-up, etc.)

Pay your dues and start at the bottom. Its worth the effort.



this is good adivce, I ran a dirt car for 7 years and wish i had crewed more first, you can learn alot and save time and money for when you want to get one yourself, goes for dirt or seal

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8/16/2019 10:30 AM

aual4518 wrote:

I have always dreamed of racing cars but haven’t really had the means until now. I have no experience at all in car racing and don’t have anyone close to me who races. I have a engineering degree so half the fun to me would be building the car but I honestly wouldn’t know where to start. Is there any information out there on how?

How would I go about getting started? I have thought about buying a go kart but I’m a little on the heavy side for those(225 lbs). I also have an old Pontiac sunfire that would be a mediocre buzz class car from the info I can find but I don’t know a ton about building a cage for it.

First thing you need to do is figure out what kind of car racing you want to do.

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Ed Johnson

8/16/2019 10:49 AM

Lots of people get started in karts first, dirt or asphalt, depending on local tracks/opportunities.

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8/16/2019 12:51 PM

Get a kart and race at your local kart track...you will learn everything you need about tuning in a kart and you will have so much fun you won't want to move on to a race car because they all feel like Cadillacs after you race go karts.

And, if you can go fast in a go kart you can go fast in anything..."karting is the most pure form of 4 wheel racing" as you will hear from many top F1 and Indy drivers.

You can still make it work at 225lbs.

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8/16/2019 2:23 PM
Edited Date/Time: 8/16/2019 2:30 PM

Fact is you need to zero in on a process of growth. Jumping into a 410 sprint car isn't a good idea, getting books such as Jimmy 'Buckwheat' Sills' is a good idea. It'll appeal to your engineer side. If you're thinking about road course there is an awesome series that you can dip your feet into without buying-building a car. It's Champ Car ... (not affiliated but do race the series) champcar.org
In this series you can "rent a seat", some teams will rent driver spots. But the events are usually 16 to 24hrs in length so the opportunity to get a few hours of seat time is there. The variety of cars in this series is awesome! You will have to invest in your own safety gear but it's the least expensive way to find out if it's your bag.
Hope you find something that makes you happy.

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8/16/2019 3:00 PM

Like others have suggested, you need to figure out what appeals to you. There are some pretty fun classes to get into for minimal expense. If building from the ground up is what you desire, you will need to have someone there to guide you. Probably the cheapest way to do it is find a car that it ready to go. There r as many drivers selling their stuff when they get out of car racing as there are guys looking to buy.

I have friends racing spec BMW class where it is very reasonable and they have a blast. 1980-90 ish 320 Series with full cages. Almost all road courses. Relatively slow so it’s a great place to learn. Another friend does the sportsman stock cars And he needs a crew to keep him going. Has a full time mechanic working on the cars during the week and a couple guys on race day. Of course his choice is much more expensive with very little in return from sponsors. It’s a tax write off for his business. He races all small ovals

Keep us posted on what you get into. It’s a dream of mine but it’s a pretty expensive sport

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8/16/2019 4:17 PM

Black Diesel Bomber wrote:

Get a kart and race at your local kart track...you will learn everything you need about tuning in a kart and you will have so much fun you won't want to move on to a race car because they all feel like Cadillacs after you race go karts.

And, if you can go fast in a go kart you can go fast in anything..."karting is the most pure form of 4 wheel racing" as you will hear from many top F1 and Indy drivers.

You can still make it work at 225lbs.

I raced shifter karts and had a lot of fun but I sucked on pavement and I do much better on dirt.


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Ed Johnson

8/16/2019 5:21 PM

Posted before but still awesome fun...not me

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8/19/2019 10:39 AM

Sorry I have been busy all weekend and wasn't able to reply, but thanks everyone for input. I really think that I would have a lot of fun road racing but in the southeast there are not a ton of opportunities for that (especially with karts). I think I am leaning towards asphalt ovals but I want to try dirt as well if possible. After hearing all of your input I think I will give karts a try. From what I see both asphalt and dirt tracks in my area have a heavy predator class that I could get started with. Is it crazy to race the same kart on dirt and asphalt to get started out until I find my preferences?

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8/20/2019 6:24 AM




RC is another option for learning what does what. It's a cheap way to understand chassis dynamics at a much lower cost. 1/8th scale buggies are pretty indestructible, and there are lots of places to go in the south.
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8/25/2019 4:55 AM

20 years ago I tried my hand at SCCA racing. I built a Mazda RX7 and raced in the spec class. It was OK but cost a ton of money and that was a cheap class. Racing on a road course is fun.

SCCA is way different bunch of people than at a short track or sprint car track track. Not bad, just different. I didn't fit in.

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8/26/2019 5:57 PM

I got in to it this year, after destroying my knee racing a hare scramble in 2018 I decided I needed a cage as I've had too many ER trips.

I found my local asphalt short track, and got a pit pass for the day, and crutched my way over to the 4cyl cars. Met a friendly driver, talked to him about the racing. Over that summer I went to every race and helped him in the pits, learned car set up, and was able to give some insight on some set up stuff, having a set of eyes on the outside watching the car I could relay things he couldn't see. If you like to mess with suspension settings on a bike, that experience helps. He ended up track champ that year, so I had a good mentor.

That fall they did an experience day for the class and let people get in the cars one at a time and turn some laps, and I was really surprised how well a cavalier could go around when properly set up.

So I built myself a car, a 97 cavalier with a 5 speed.
Installed a cage, and essentially restored all the suspension, brake upgrades etc. Financially it's better to buy a built car, but I'm very picky on how things are done, especially the safety components.
The thrill wasnt there. The racing is good, but there are aspects you get in moto that you dont get in a car. The first is the physical part of it. I'm not a particularly skilled rider, but my endurance is what paid off... in a car that doesnt matter. I miss the personal challenge of just not letting yourself quit before the end of a 2 hour race.

If your car set up is not spot on you will go to the back. It doesnt matter how good of a driver you are. I had one race where my toe was slightly off and I dropped positions bad. In moto you can for the most part overcome something being a bit off or not having the best equipment and still do well.

You are at the mercy of the other 25 drivers the entire race. Lappers are a nuisance as we catch them in 5 laps. If there is a caution it bunches everyone back up. Nothing sucks more than being in 2nd, hounding the leader and setting up a pass with 2 laps to go and someone brings out the yellow. Now you are stuck on the outside and that inside line gets by, and the checkers come out before things get set up for racing again. Sucks.


In my rookie year I won a feature, a bunch of top 5s, a 2nd in a feature, finished 3rd in the points and I sold the car 2 days later, despite a knack for driving a car and beating lots of seasoned fast drivers, it was really sort of boring.

Now rally racing might be a blast... I'm going back to 2 wheels despite promising I was done when I was wrapped around that tree last year.

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8/26/2019 8:12 PM

Dude, you wouldnt be saying all that if you were racing sprints.

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"We don't rent pigs."

8/27/2019 3:27 AM

the racer x podcast with AJ ALmindinger is interesting, with the money needed to make it car racing,

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8/27/2019 5:54 AM

JAFO92 wrote:

Dude, you wouldnt be saying all that if you were racing sprints.

You're likely right.
It isnt "easy" to be one of the fastest in any class, even in the cheap classes there are good drivers, but it always felt too calm on asphalt. With the car set up right it was just hitting marks and smooth is fast.

On dirt with the rear end steering the car, guys crossing lines high and low to get drive through the corner and how aggressive you gotta be just to get the car to go fast, that might have been a different story.

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8/27/2019 11:37 AM

24 hours of lemons

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8/27/2019 12:04 PM

Are you close to Florence?

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8/29/2019 11:32 AM

JAFO92 wrote:

Dude, you wouldnt be saying all that if you were racing sprints.

I would like try micro sprints. They have em at a dirt track near me. They’re pretty awesome. So fast.

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GP740
Since 1987

8/29/2019 2:54 PM

JAFO92 wrote:

Dude, you wouldnt be saying all that if you were racing sprints.

White_Trash wrote:

You're likely right.
It isnt "easy" to be one of the fastest in any class, even in the cheap classes there are good drivers, but it always felt too calm on asphalt. With the car set up right it was just hitting marks and smooth is fast.

On dirt with the rear end steering the car, guys crossing lines high and low to get drive through the corner and how aggressive you gotta be just to get the car to go fast, that might have been a different story.

Maybe you should try an Ironman.....

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GP740
Since 1987

8/29/2019 6:55 PM

I raced IMSA touring and Grand sport in 91, 92, and 93, in the Firestone fire hawk series, was fun but not the same as moto, won the SCCA twin sixes at Sebring in 1992 in a Porsche 944

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If you like uncle tony's meatballs, you'll love his sausage

Now that's Italian

8/29/2019 10:22 PM
Edited Date/Time: 8/30/2019 5:55 AM

GeorgiePorgie wrote:

I would like try micro sprints. They have em at a dirt track near me. They’re pretty awesome. So fast.

The larger displacement mini classes are turning lap times not far from the fullsize 305 Racesaver cars. The 600cc car I raced handled better than the regular full size 360 sprinter I raced a few years before.

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"We don't rent pigs."