TLDR: Ok so in summary, over 3-5 years 10-20k would be spent on a race car not including wear and tear and entrance fees. It should enable anything from trackdays, autocross, hill climbs, eventually w2w racing. If it’s to be a shared ownership experience it should probably be legal and we should avoid disputes with simple terms in a business agreement. We should all define how we want to use it, what we will contribute, what our goals are with it, and our buyout clause at specific future dates. If you want out after 2 years of track days because you want to build a specific type of race car; you can be bought out by the remaining partners or help to find a replacement? We should all agree in advance on a rough 3-5 year schedule with key events and goals set in advance and rough budgets as well as schedule of storage and related costs if there are any. The car we choose should be suitable for our individual goals and the events should include a variety to suit all users of the car.
If you want a more nuanced description here it is…. This document is always in review, just testing out ideas.
Exercise… Let’s discuss what our personal goals and needs are out of a car. I will start first. I am looking for a partially or fully prepped track and or race car that can go run at first in track days, and gradually be developed in a wheel to wheel car that could be competitive in GLTC(gridlife touring), NASA Spec Racer(miata, e30, 944, etc..), or Vintage Race car for VSCDA etc..
I can offer for some events a trailer, and a truck, but other events I may not be available. I am looking to go to between 2-6 events per year not counting cars and coffee/radwood(if the car is street legal). These events would start as things like gingerman test and tune nights for $100/person + wear/tear/gas etc.., and transition into HDPE, Time attack and w2w.
I can provide storage part of the year and contribute to between 2-6 wrench nights a month in finalizing prep, and continuing developing the car. Some of these days will be off season and others may be the friday evening before a saturday or sunday event.
Not all events are events I necessarily want to prep and drive, some events I may just want to go and prep for someone else who is trailering/towing. Not all events I want to be driving either.
Long Term…. At some point I also want to do a big event, like a 8hr endurance race, or do something like the bonneville salt flats, or pikes peak…. this could be a long term goal which would be built to and others could run to help reduce overall cost per person.
My goal is to get the most bang for buck out of experiences, not necessarily being in the fastest class or the fastest car. I prefer a car which is simple or works from a place where I have knowledge. There will always be someone with 100k in a particular category from autocross to time attack etc… I prefer finding value in fair and more level competition, and in events with great significance and fun… (i.e. I would rather 1 Road America to two Autobahn Events), or taking off 1/4 season to prepare the car for an enduro with a larger fuel tank and cooling suit and radios… etc..
If the car lasts to the 5 year mark and done those events it would have served its purpose for me and it could be sold and the investment shared, I could be bought out at a predetermined rate based upon the investment logged in the logbook/acct statements see below) How is the investment known? I think we keep a logbook of time working on the car and what is being done, this is important for maintaining a race car anyways to know who did what/when. Second we consider keeping the car in a business like an LLC which has its own bank account and a corporate agreement which details what happens in the event one person crashes the car or is involved in an incident. This would also mean the car would have a bank account which we pay prorated fees on tires and wear and tear items dependent upon the predetermined scheduled events that season and the planned drivers/crew. Accounting for all this is in a shared spreadsheet and one member of the LLC is the accountant/treasurer.
You might be thinking, wait, that sounds very complicated… it is and it isn’t… It is $1500 in legal fees and lawyer costs to have the business agreement written up and a couple weekdays of going to banks and getting stuff setup.
Secondly, nothing sucks more than sour grapes between friends. We should have provisions if things happen. And it isn’t as scary as it seems. If the frame isn’t bent, bodywork can be had on the cheap and finishing done in house as those are the greatest costs. Or we can choose to swap to flares, or tubing the front end. The cost to rebuild like OEM an e30 front clip are far more than straightening the strut towers, then welding in a tube front end to hold aftermarket lights and bumper which is now hood pinned. We should decide in the business agreement how those costs are recuperated etc.. and what is fair dependent upon who was driving and the circumstances. This also isn’t that complicated either as part of the budget of the car will include a dash cam to log the cars use.
It doesn’t have to work as described above, and a lawyer may advise a different agreement or business type, or to not do it at all. But here is why I suggest we explore that option.
Figure were going to be looking at a car that ranges between 5-10k, were going to put between 5-10k into that car in a 5 year span, outside of wear and tear items. We want something that if it survives its a desirable to someone in some class of racing. We don’t want to develop a car to a class that is abandoned or doesn’t have participants, or a shrinking fleet. If we plan doing the right historic or significant events and log those events a car has providence and that increases its value. The longer it has a racing or track preparation logbook and year after year competition the more valuable the car is.
TLDR: Ok so in summary, over 3-5 years 10-20k would be spent on a race car not including wear and tear and entrance fees. It should enable anything from trackdays, autocross, hill climbs, eventually w2w racing. If it’s to be a shared ownership experience it should probably be legal and we should avoid disputes with simple terms in a business agreement. We should all define how we want to use it, what we will contribute, what our goals are with it, and our buyout clause at specific future dates. If you want out after 2 years of track days because you want to build a specific type of race car; you can be bought out by the remaining partners or help to find a replacement? We should all agree in advance on a rough 3-5 year schedule with key events and goals set in advance and rough budgets as well as schedule of storage and related costs if there are any.
Some Cost Breakdowns and Event Breakdowns…
This is a basic description and breakdown of the costs, goals, and objectives of a hypothetical track car investment by a single or multiple parties. The idea is to maximize fun, seat time, competition, and cost for the purposes of minimizing costs and maximizing all other ingredients.
Before even searching for a car the goals for its use have to be known as having the wrong car for the wrong racing leads to frustration and exorbitant costs. Same goes for picking a series of racing for which a specific car already dominates due to the car being naturally optimized for the rules set.
Random notes on track/race preparation: Track cars require indoor year round storage, prep work before and after every weekend, and if pure race car often require trailering to and from the race track and storage. Storage, and maintenance concerns need to be baked into a team car project from the get. Some cars require more maintenance than others, use more tires, more brakes etc.. Track/Race cars also have wear items outside of tires/brakes/engine etc.. you have seat belts, and fuel cells, and foam padding which all have lifespans which are indicated and inspected.
So a tracktoy is more than meets the eye, but it is not exactly life taxing to undertake the prospect, especially when the jobs are shared among a few people. This goes both ways, this shared experience means that time on track is shared, so scheduling days with less team participants means more individual team member track time, but then the costs are spread among few. The goal of this document is to help navigate that landscape so that fair and reasonable people can maintain friendships and a racing experience with as few sour grapes as possible.
Onto the fun…..
Types of events:
Autocross and HPDE:
Description- Autocross events are usually parking lot or short courses with cones and timed competition. A car which is both race and track prepped will likely be hard to be competitive in autocross as modifications for track may put it in a more unlimited class where competition is tight. Of course for HPDE days there is no timer just open track time where drivers learn the car and themselves.
Organizations- Windy City BMW, Grid-Life, Windy City Miata, Gingerman open Track Days, Laps Inc.
Individual Cost Per Event- $75-350
Car Cost Per Event- Oil, filter, fuel, tire wear, brake wear, brake fluid lost in bleed. ($50-250)
Time On Track-15min -1hr total depending upon event type, autocross seat time is very low due to the short course. Often with a HDPE it is 15 minute sessions and you may have 6 in a day, but if there are 3 drivers then its only 2 per driver. Or 30 minutes per driver. This is the first mention in this write up of the ‘shared experience’ of a team car, meaning splitting your track time with others, or picking days with less team participants.
Description- Like HPDE but timed and with other timed competitors on the track seeking the best line. Time attack is less seat time than HPDE but is competitive. Some events are historic or significant in nature and have special appeal, and additional costs.
Organizations- Grid-Life, SCCA, Individual Events like Pikes Peak, Hill Climbs, Bonneville Salt Flat Speed Trials,
Individual Cost Per Event- $75-350 Some events are day events, some are long weekends.
Car Cost Per Event- Oil, filter, fuel, tire wear, brake wear, brake fluid lost in bleed. ($100-750)
Time On Track- 45min total depending upon event type. A time attack can mean 2, 15 minute sessions requiring you to pay for practice time before timed runs start. Others may vary.
Wheel To Wheel Racing:
Description- Like it sounds, competitive wheel 2 wheel racing.
Organizations- Grid-Life, ChampCar, NASA SPEC racing, VSCDA (requires vintage car(many cool cars are vintage or are about to become vintage legal)
Racing Class-GLTC, SCCA ITS, Champcar, NASA Spec… This is basically an improved touring class. Street car based, limited to mostly bolt ons outside the cage, and safety systems. VSCDA vintage racing has other rules.
Individual Cost Per Event- $250-700 (weekend, Thursday to Sunday)
Car cost per event- Oil, filter, fuel, tire wear, brake wear, brake fluid lost in bleed. ($250-750)
Time On Track- 15 minute practice, 15 minute qualifying, 15-20 minute race.
Types of Cars
This is a fairly subjective but there does exist some fixed knowns. Cars which are ‘best of breed’, or icons of their generation tend to maintain their value to a greater degree than say the Ford Focuses, or Toyota Corollas. Cars with histories including racing logbooks going back decades, have better chance of resale. Buying a car isn’t just about resale, after-all its a racecar it could be destroyed in an accident out of your control. At the root of it you want something you are motivated to work on, maintain, transport, and repair with your hard earned dollars and it certainly helps if that car is something someone might value in the future so as to further ensure the value you are investing.
Before diving into what cars are viable, it is important to cover how to achieve the best value for $ in race cars.
- It is better to buy than build.
- It’s expensive to be the best, its reasonable to race against the best.
- Custom doesn’t necessarily mean expensive to repair. OEM Repair can be more costly than tube, or caged chassis.
- Heavy cars are heavy on wear items.
- Simple is faster than complicated.
- Aero classes require $$$$$$$$$$$(cheap aero requires big hp to push through the air, slippery aero is expensive and complicated to develop)
Ok onto the car list…
Street Based Cars:
Honda Civic EH
RX7 (FB, FC)
Track Specific Cars
SCCA GT or ITS Prepped race cars with solid rear axles not currently legal for Vintage but who’s chassis enables such wide enough tires to be competitive in time attack and gridlife touring car racing.
DSR/CSR – Aluminum or Tube frame Ford/pinto or motorcycle based engines. Not legal for touring car racing but time attack, autocross, and vintage or open class racing possible.
Legends Race Car – Tube Frame Motorcycle powered vintage ford looking race car. Limited use, trackdays, autocross(open class), very hard to make street legal, time attack, hill cimbs(off road), dirt track, oval track.