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Folgers
Folgers New Reader
9/21/21 7:59 p.m.

You’ve had three pages of discussion of folks , most if not all active and knowledgeable in racing. 

No one has your answer besides you. 

I don’t know how to explain it with more eloquence at the moment. 

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
9/21/21 8:31 p.m.

For me, I got my feet wet with FSAE and fell for small formula cars in a big way. I didn't go right out and get one, I autocrosses what I had and I could barely afford to do that on a college student budget. Sure, I could have sold the dream car I worked my behind off for in highschool, but I couldn't have managed the overhead to get on a big track (tow vehicle, storage, etc). I was lucky to store my mustang at home as college didn't allow me to even have a car on campus for the first year. Wound up getting a cheap e30 automatic dd off this forum and saved the mustang for fun.

 

When I graduated, I opted to store the mustang in my grandparents garage and trade up the e30 to a cheap miata to daily drive and autocross. Only car on the road, so no track still. That got me through my "career launch" years and apartment living again, did not lend itself to track stuff. So I kept autocrossing the miata and had some fun drives in friends cars at autocrosses.

This is about where a buddy offered me a killer deal on a bugeye sprite. It got stored in my girlfriends mom's shed and I got to work on it very little.

Career took off, got married, got a house and I got the mustang out of storage and kept autocrossing. Got bugeye to house and I did legitimately look at what it would take to prep it for vintage racing. 

 

Disc brakes, competition front spindles (mandatory, they break autocrossing and I don't want to die), safety gear. I was facing over $4k in investment to be a backmarker. That's already having the car and not counting the "get it running"stuff. Now, I could spend years chasing used parts deals, but I don't trust used safety critical parts. Personal decision and perhaps not the cheap one, but hopefully understandable.

 I was looking at building something to do track days and acquired a spitfire for $40. I spent $250 on miata suspension parts and intended to graft them on and do a yahama r1 powerplant. Hey, I'm an engineer, it tickled my funny bone.

 

Life happens, have a baby. Figure out that the build will probably take me 10 years and I wanna drive. I want SPEED. Baby life might mean limited to autox for a bit, but if I'm going to do it I want some FTDs. I also want to grow to track stuff, but toe the water. It's funny, this came out in a discussion with my wife when our son was 3 months old. She encouraged me to make the next step. The formula car dream never left.

 

Sold spitfire for what I had in it on this forum. Found a logbooked f500 with trailer for sale not too far away for $8k. Came with all the gear, helmet, hans, firesuit...  Needed setup and new harness, etc. Hadn't been on track in a few years, but the PO had just overhauled it and was selling due to age and health.

Take a year autocrossing it to work out bugs and acclimate to it. Was going to run a single car at a time time trial at the track to toe the water, but pandemic happened. And another kiddo.

One weekend of racing since pandemic began, I got my first autocross FTD. Need the pandemic to cool down so I can work childcare stuff to get out more, but hope to get on track for that time trail next year, or maybe the year after. Depends, I kind of want to try autox at nats. 

From there, maybe dive into racing school and license. Gotta see.

 

That said, periodic maintenance for a roadrace car isn't cheap. Big expenses that weren't able to be done cheaper that have come up so far. Fuel cell replacement $1040. New fire system (rules mandated, old halon not rechargeable) $350. New helmet next year. New harness and arm restraints. And while I have the old used stuff, I kinda want to splurge on new nomex underpants. Reusing some other guys 15 year old used stuff is sketchy.

 

That's not counting tires, entry fees, racing school fees, etc.

 

could have done it cheaper, but it works for me.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
9/21/21 9:48 p.m.
Lof8 - Andy said:
frenchyd said:

Autocross?  Kissing your sister

karting?  I'm too big

champcar? Drivers are clueless

HPDE? Not true racing

used race car? Unreliable and you have no way to fix it

the only way to have fun and race a car on a small budget is to build an oddball from scratch and go vintage racing  

 

I like your creative writing. 
  However, I don't think you'll find me saying my way is the only way.  I've tried to give valid reasons for my approach.  
   Plus I've achieved more than a fair bit on that tiny budget. 
 If you have more money than I do you can buy your way to however you want to go racing. That's fine.  But what about guys who don't have your money?  Should they just stay home?  
   Have you got a way they can race?  Please share it rather than just critize my suggestions please offer some of yours.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
9/21/21 10:34 p.m.

In reply to Apexcarver :

You did it the way you had to.  I know as well as most how tough it can be.  You need to do whatever you can.   Racing is both a good and a bad thing.  Good because it's a wonderful way to motivate a person. Bad because mishandled it can drain bank accounts .  
      The thing I like about vintage is you can step away and the competition doesn't get faster like currant racing does.  Oh, drivers may gain skills and comfort with the car.  Tiny edges may get polished but no quantum leaps. But you can step away, have your life and later step back in without  losing much.  

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
9/21/21 10:37 p.m.
Folgers said:

You’ve had three pages of discussion of folks , most if not all active and knowledgeable in racing. 

No one has your answer besides you. 

I don’t know how to explain it with more eloquence at the moment. 

So then what suggestions do you have for   Those without the money to buy a race car?  

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
9/21/21 10:46 p.m.

In reply to Apexcarver :

F500 is not only the cheapest single seater car, it's one of the cheapest classes going. No fancy gearboxes or 90 way adjustable dampers. Tires are cheap too.

I went to the F500 for vintage racing becuase it's cheaper to run than the Datsun. For someone looking to go vintage racing older F500s are a bargain. 

 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
9/21/21 10:54 p.m.
frenchyd said:

So then what suggestions do you have for   Those without the money to buy a race car?  

My solution, since I'm not a fabricator, was always to take on sidework. The Datsun was a $270 car. I'd do some side work and then spend $100 - $300 on parts for the car as I earned the money. That's why it took me 2 years to build it.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
9/21/21 11:32 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

In reply to Apexcarver :

F500 is not only the cheapest single seater car, it's one of the cheapest classes going. No fancy gearboxes or 90 way adjustable dampers. Tires are cheap too.

I went to the F500 for vintage racing becuase it's cheaper to run than the Datsun. For someone looking to go vintage racing older F500s are a bargain. 

 

Agree completely, also much easier rebuilds on the two strokes. Replace pistons with the engine in car in a few hours and it's pretty much stock parts from a snowmobile at a stock power level other than what the pipe gives.

When I looked at vintage race prepping the bugeye a race motor for that could cost more than my entire F500. Most people in spridgets are squeezing close to or more than 110hp from an engine that originally put out 65hp. Getting just a race head together involves over a thousand dollars, or learning the art of cylinder head porting and risking trashing parts and likely winding up making less power than those who spent the money.

Perhaps the biggest lamentable thing about the F500 is the universal formula car problem of not being able to do regular hpde track days for the most part or many time trials programs. That said, the super light towing requirements are a potential huge cost savings. Car without driver is 650lbs, so it's easy to be under 2-3k lbs trailer weight. 

It's the cheapest way to go fast outside of a kart. A kart isn't much of an option for me as I'm not sure I can take the physical punishments of a kart.

 

One factor that is worth considering, once you know where to find parts or have them made, the maintenance is much faster and easier than production cars. It probably carries over to most purpose built stuff.

One thing that scares me from vintage racing a little British car is the quality of reproduction parts tends to be terrible. Many parts made in India that make old Chinese quality control look good.

 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
9/22/21 7:51 a.m.
Tom1200 said:
frenchyd said:

So then what suggestions do you have for   Those without the money to buy a race car?  

My solution, since I'm not a fabricator, was always to take on sidework. The Datsun was a $270 car. I'd do some side work and then spend $100 - $300 on parts for the car as I earned the money. That's why it took me 2 years to build it.

Tom, you started small and spent modestly. That's my favorite approach. Even though my side job was restoration or racecar preparation it was done after a long day at work  or on the weekend.  
    My regular job paid the bills and provided for the family.  It also allowed me family toys like the Cruiser I bought, and family vacation trips.  
        A side note, that regular job was mostly mentally demanding. Whereas the side gig was very hands on.  
    Doing your regular job  for longer hours is especially hard way to earn funds for racing.  I salute those who do. 

AaronT
AaronT Reader
9/22/21 8:48 a.m.
frenchyd said:
Folgers said:

You’ve had three pages of discussion of folks , most if not all active and knowledgeable in racing. 

No one has your answer besides you. 

I don’t know how to explain it with more eloquence at the moment. 

So then what suggestions do you have for   Those without the money to buy a race car?  

If the question is framed this way I would recommend the aspiring racer consider sim racing. It can be done on a challenge budget, it has a significant skill set crossover with real racing and sim racers can be very fast when they drive real cars, there is no risk of car damage or bodily injury, you can drive thousands of laps and do hundreds of races for less money for every lap or race you could do irl, no storage issues, no trailer and tow pig needed.

I love sim racing, it allows me to race w2w any time I can squeeze it in. My financial outlay is done so it allows me race w2w without cratering my wallet. It's not perfect, it misses that feeling of slip angle, but it's really very good.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
9/22/21 9:15 a.m.

No money for a race car?

 

Well, "no" money is a relative thing. If you really have none, you need to prioritize other things in your life to grant you some minimal discretionary income. 

 

One of the best things going I have seen, is if you have a car able to do HPDE the local SCCA region had a "flag 3 get 1 free" policy for workers. So you can go out and hang at the track and sidestep entry fees. If you can scrape together a spare vehicle and do the maintenance on it to be safe, this is probably one of the best ways. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
9/22/21 10:00 a.m.
Apexcarver said:
Tom1200 said:

In reply to Apexcarver :

F500 is not only the cheapest single seater car, it's one of the cheapest classes going. No fancy gearboxes or 90 way adjustable dampers. Tires are cheap too.

I went to the F500 for vintage racing becuase it's cheaper to run than the Datsun. For someone looking to go vintage racing older F500s are a bargain. 

 

Agree completely, also much easier rebuilds on the two strokes. Replace pistons with the engine in car in a few hours and it's pretty much stock parts from a snowmobile at a stock power level other than what the pipe gives.

When I looked at vintage race prepping the bugeye a race motor for that could cost more than my entire F500. Most people in spridgets are squeezing close to or more than 110hp from an engine that originally put out 65hp. Getting just a race head together involves over a thousand dollars, or learning the art of cylinder head porting and risking trashing parts and likely winding up making less power than those who spent the money.

Perhaps the biggest lamentable thing about the F500 is the universal formula car problem of not being able to do regular hpde track days for the most part or many time trials programs. That said, the super light towing requirements are a potential huge cost savings. Car without driver is 650lbs, so it's easy to be under 2-3k lbs trailer weight. 

It's the cheapest way to go fast outside of a kart. A kart isn't much of an option for me as I'm not sure I can take the physical punishments of a kart.

 

One factor that is worth considering, once you know where to find parts or have them made, the maintenance is much faster and easier than production cars. It probably carries over to most purpose built stuff.

One thing that scares me from vintage racing a little British car is the quality of reproduction parts tends to be terrible. Many parts made in India that make old Chinese quality control look good.

 

Wow! Are you ever right about the quality of some parts.  MG's have suffered for 30-40 years trying to find a quality distributor rotor supplier.   Also various other parts like suspension or  transmission parts can be very spotty. 
      Fortunately often there are work arounds. 
    Regarding stuff like porting heads  and other time intensive knowledge and skill required tasks, simply matching and smoothing ports is 80% of what a all out increase port size  job will take. Yet will only take you 10% of the time the full port job will take.  Plus the equipment is cheap. If a Sprite port job gains you over   8 horsepower over the basic match ports and smooth the lumps out of the passage way you're doing really superb work.
  I  wish I could say  I've never tried for that 8 horsepower.  But I can honestly say I've never achieved it.   Now I no longer even try.  Before you do you need a flow bench.  And a head or two to waste while you learn.  (Junk yards and former racers have plenty usually for free).  You can practice on a cracked head or one that's swallowed a valve or two just as well.   A shop vac and some way of measuring flow  is all you need for a flow bench. I use a unisyn.  
   Other things like balancing an engine is in the reach of a DIY guy. The one bit of equipment is probably cheap enough to buy on line but I use an old shadow beam balancer I picked up for $15.   Actually doing it takes less time then going to the shop and coming back to retrieve it.  
I also lighten my own stock connecting rods using a drill press, a router  cutter/grinding stone and a home made jig.   Not all con rods should be lightened.   In fact most production rods are not capable of dealing with elevated power levels, higher RPM and high mileage.  I have a motorcycle junkyard I plan on visiting again when it's time to do the MG again. I'll bring a stock rod with  me and see what's possible.  ( hint, offset grinding a crankshaft can produce some very pleasant gains). 
 

As for a kart?  I'm with you, I'm just not capable of dealing with the physical demands. I suspect the same would be true of an F500.  I know I couldn't handle my Black Jack anymore.  The big sedan (JaguarXJS) is likely my limit.  
Younger drivers shouldn't  use my limitations as any sort of guide though.  
 

Tires can be expensive or not.  David Love drove the 1958 Ferrari Testa Rossa he bought from Enzo in 1959 after driving for him for a season.  many decades later He was using 3 year old Dunlop's by using a tire  durameter to determine if there was still life in the set.   Following his passing that car sold for something like 56 million dollars. 
ps my two year old Dunlop's were still fine 10 races later. 
   Or second hand tires!  Pros and wealthy amateurs often use one set for qualifying and one set for the race.  I was never too proud to pay $50-100 for their take offs. 
   Finally, Sprites, MG's, Porsches, certain other common well developed production cars do require a great deal of expense to be at the front of the pack in Vintage racing. If you like one of those, you can still have a lot of fun mid pack.  Dicing with the Triumph or Volvo. Etc.  But there are plenty of overlooked cars too. I know I'm beating a dead horse, but Jaguar is my choice.  I've seen a Ford Falcon run successfully on a very modest budget as well as a Dodge Dart.  For a while a Mercury Cougar  was racing on what appeared to be a modest budget and having a lot of fun.  
    My ego doesn't need the 600 horsepower required to win in group 6. I'll go out with a pretty close to stock engine of about 450 hp and have fun.  I'm sure there will be others to dice with 

Cactus
Cactus HalfDork
9/22/21 11:23 a.m.
Lof8 - Andy said:
frenchyd said:

Autocross?  Kissing your sister

karting?  I'm too big

champcar? Drivers are clueless

HPDE? Not true racing

used race car? Unreliable and you have no way to fix it

the only way to have fun and race a car on a small budget is to build an oddball from scratch and go vintage racing  

 

I'm so glad HPDE scratches the itch for me. Best value in $/ seat time if you instruct.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
9/22/21 11:36 a.m.
AaronT said:
frenchyd said:
Folgers said:

You’ve had three pages of discussion of folks , most if not all active and knowledgeable in racing. 

No one has your answer besides you. 

I don’t know how to explain it with more eloquence at the moment. 

So then what suggestions do you have for   Those without the money to buy a race car?  

If the question is framed this way I would recommend the aspiring racer consider sim racing. It can be done on a challenge budget, it has a significant skill set crossover with real racing and sim racers can be very fast when they drive real cars, there is no risk of car damage or bodily injury, you can drive thousands of laps and do hundreds of races for less money for every lap or race you could do irl, no storage issues, no trailer and tow pig needed.

I love sim racing, it allows me to race w2w any time I can squeeze it in. My financial outlay is done so it allows me race w2w without cratering my wallet. It's not perfect, it misses that feeling of slip angle, but it's really very good.

I haven't even considered SIM racing.  I know Formula 1 drivers do a lot of it.  
    I do know guys who crew for someone often get to drive a race or two a season.  I know drivers often put corner workers in the passenger seat for a few laps at Noon.  I've also seen more than one corner worker who hangs around the pits  after  the track is closed be given the car for a few laps. 
    I'm going racing with the help of 2 guys.  They will be sharing track time with me.  Luckily all of us are the same size so the seat doesn't even have to move. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
9/22/21 11:55 a.m.

In reply to Apexcarver :

I've done 43 autocrossess and 3 race weekends with the car (I just started vintage racing it 18 months ago) in the past 6 1/2 years. I'm just buying the 4th set of tires (for autocross they age out after 18 months). Now that I'm road racing it I'll have to buy a fresh set every year ($850 new, $400 used). I've replaced the drive belt twice ($38). 

I managed to buy up a stash of 494 engines (the car still has the AMW motor) for $1,500; that got me a fresh engine, a low hours one, a running one in need of a top end, one in need of a rebuild and boxes of gaskets.  Basically a 7-10 year supply of motors.

So tires and maintenance works out to about $1000 to $1100 a year for 6-8 autocrosses & 2-3 vintage race weekends or $80-$90 a month. 

 

 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
9/22/21 11:57 a.m.

In reply to Cactus :

Yes, being an instructor cuts my HPDE costs to $150 an event...............unfortunately I love W2W (especially vintage) to much to give it up.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
9/22/21 12:09 p.m.
Cactus said:
Lof8 - Andy said:
frenchyd said:

Autocross?  Kissing your sister

karting?  I'm too big

champcar? Drivers are clueless

HPDE? Not true racing

used race car? Unreliable and you have no way to fix it

the only way to have fun and race a car on a small budget is to build an oddball from scratch and go vintage racing  

 

I'm so glad HPDE scratches the itch for me. Best value in $/ seat time if you instruct.

I'm glad you brought up HPDE .  Please go back and read what I've said about that subject not what Andy claimed I said.  
 To summarize, it gives you the real high speed track experience.   You aren't limited to  parking lot with cones type of speed. 
    I should elaborate, the difference isn't just the speed. HPDE is often using actual race tracks. With the physical terrain changes they have instead of flat parking lots.  In some sense they are easier than trying to follow a cone laid out with the constraints of a parking lot.  Because  you're on an actual "road"  but it's more than that. There are camber changes and sometimes surface changes blind corners and hills.  HPDE is just a world better than autocross .  More like kissing a really hot distant niece  Than your sister.;-) 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
9/22/21 12:41 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

In reply to Apexcarver :

I've done 43 autocrossess and 3 race weekends with the car (I just started vintage racing it 18 months ago) in the past 6 1/2 years. I'm just buying the 4th set of tires (for autocross they age out after 18 months). Now that I'm road racing it I'll have to buy a fresh set every year ($850 new, $400 used). I've replaced the drive belt twice ($38). 

I managed to buy up a stash of 494 engines (the car still has the AMW motor) for $1,500; that got me a fresh engine, a low hours one, a running one in need of a top end, one in need of a rebuild and boxes of gaskets.  Basically a 7-10 year supply of motors.

So tires and maintenance works out to about $1000 to $1100 a year for 6-8 autocrosses & 2-3 vintage race weekends or $80-$90 a month. 

 

 

I got a decade each time I freshened the Jaguar motor.  The bearings were never replaced. Only the rings and a valve job. Part of that was due to the filtering I did. Each stage of the dry sump had its in-line filter and then a tandem HP1 oil filter. I changed all 5 gallons of oil after every weekend.  And had a great intake filter that was cleaned and re-oiled after every weekend. There was a HPG1 filter and  three in line fuel filters before each carb. Tires  lasted 3 years. Brake pads were replaced long before they wore out because Elkhart Lake!   Racing Brake fluid  bled after  every session. Typically a bottle a weekend. Always a fresh sealed bottle.  Other tracks it wasn't typically bled. Spark plugs were annually replaced. 
      The one big expense was 46 gallons of 114 octane in the fuel cell. (13-1 compression ratio) 

Most weekends I'd return with 10-20 gallons left but I needed something to ballast that 700 pound cast Iron engine up front.  Oh, yeh! the dry sump tank  was in the back as well  so figure about 4 gallons of oil. 
   An average of about 75 events a decade. 
   

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
9/22/21 1:11 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

In reply to Cactus :

Yes, being an instructor cuts my HPDE costs to $150 an event...............unfortunately I love W2W (especially vintage) to much to give it up.

 What I love about Vintage is that the cars don't get faster every weekend.  Only to be replaced with the next faster thing. 
It's  like the rules/cars are frozen in time.  So if life interferes  you can step out deal with life and whenever you're ready resume where you were. 

Driven5
Driven5 UltraDork
9/22/21 1:46 p.m.

Budget is only the first, and generally (IMHO) least challenging, obstacle to overcome. Space, time, and the prioritization between the three, are the progressively more difficult hurdles that all must also be cleared.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
9/22/21 1:53 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

Our little 500cc two stroke cars use 12 gallons a weekend (plus two bottles of Yamalube R) which works out to $140 in fuel/oil costs.  You don't need to change the oil as it goes out the exhaust.

I've just had to change the rear pads on the car after 7 years (er probably should do it more often) the fronts are still good.

Formula cars are so much cheaper to run then production cars; mostly because they run some type of spec/stock engine be it Ford 1600, 2000 or in our case standard snowmobile engines but also because the are lighter they don't have tendency to burn through tires and brake pads.

The Formula 500 lap record at Elkhart Lake is a 2:23, pretty good performance especially considering these cars can be purchased for as little as $4000.   

 

Cactus
Cactus HalfDork
9/22/21 2:36 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I'm just glad it works for me. I'd argue you can potentially go faster in a HPDE than you do racing, since it's basically a day full of qualifying sessions. I happily don't go that fast, for the sake of longevity and cost.

 

I admit I had to work my way into free track time and pay my dues along the way, but $150 for an event sounds almost like full price. Who charges that to an instructor?

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
9/22/21 2:39 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

In reply to frenchyd :

Our little 500cc two stroke cars use 12 gallons a weekend (plus two bottles of Yamalube R) which works out to $140 in fuel/oil costs.  You don't need to change the oil as it goes out the exhaust.

I've just had to change the rear pads on the car after 7 years (er probably should do it more often) the fronts are still good.

Formula cars are so much cheaper to run then production cars; mostly because they run some type of spec/stock engine be it Ford 1600, 2000 or in our case standard snowmobile engines but also because the are lighter they don't have tendency to burn through tires and brake pads.

The Formula 500 lap record at Elkhart Lake is a 2:23, pretty good performance especially considering these cars can be purchased for as little as $4000.   

 

Those are just some of the wonderful things about formula cars.  Storage towing, performance, low operating costs. Most  tracks Formula Ford turned laps as fast or faster than the big Corvettes, Cobra's etc  for a tiny fraction of what the big Thunderboomers cost.  Plus  really good sized fields

       Post Formula 5000 (V8 formula cars) they kinda morphed into Can Am  but then  that ended and before Vintage car racing really caught on big  you could buy them for $2500 or so.  But because they stressed so much  a lot needed regular replacement. Rod ends, axles, sometimes whole suspensions, Freshen up the motor, rebuild the gearbox, brakes, tires, Etc.  Then there would rarely be anyone to dice with. Because each weekend would cost 10's of thousands to freshen up. 
 Right after That's when there were a lot of a few years old Indycars.  They were much more durable even if you couldn't get a Cosworth it wasn't that hard to put a Chevy in it.    
So I tried one.  I'm only 5'9" and at the time maybe 35 pounds overweight.  It took me a long time to wedge myself in.  My unhelmeted head was almost 2 inches taller than the rollbar. The steering wheel ( yoke)  wouldn't turn without rubbing on my thighs.  Getting out was a major battle.  
 We need more Dan Gurney's racing. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
9/22/21 3:05 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I'm 5' 7" and 142lbs.................I fit in everything.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh Reader
9/22/21 3:11 p.m.

Downhill skateboard racing is really REALLY fun. You can race wheel to wheel with no qualifications, spend less than $100 on your vehicle, reach speeds faster than some auto crosses, etc, I'll show myself out.

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