More accessible racing

One of the interesting things about racing is how some of the greats started. Lee Petty drove a six cylinder Plymouth, hardly a fast car, though he added Chrysler suspension and braking bits to it to get an edge. The six cylinder Hudson Hornet dominated stock car racing for a couple of years.

Things got faster in a hurry, especially in drag racing, where some people left as the power got higher and higher and the risks shot up accordingly.

Sometimes I think it would be fun to have a racing series that worked at the speed of the cars Lee Petty drove — and not a classic series (though there are some of those and they seem like a lot of fun, too) but one using modern cars.  This would be more accessible to more people, getting them into racing, partly because the cost of entry would be lower, and partly because you could build up your skills at somewhat safer speeds.

For a while in the 1990s, SCCA’s Pro Solo, Solo II, and Super Solo classes were dominated by Neons. That led me to think that maybe there should be a series limited to automakers’ most base cars, with a price ceiling (e.g. $16,000) and a North American sales minimum of, say, 80,000 total, and 10,000 for the particular configuration. I’d also want a horsepower-to-weight and torque-to-weight limit to keep things manageable. In short, we’re talking about racing relatively slow cars, cars that a stock (not ACR) Neon would be able to beat or at least stay even with.

We’d see Fiat 500s (not the Abarths), Chevy Sparks, and other base compact and subcompact cars. I suspect the Fiat 500 would dominate on tracks with more curves, but that’s just me. The base Mini would probably be trouble if it could make it past the cost.

Or maybe this type of racing exists and I just don’t know about it?


2 thoughts on “More accessible racing

  1. JSim

    Dave, there are many, many start-ups trying to get this type of racing going. There’s one big hold up, however – Safety.

    Every look at LeMons racing? You’re restricted to a $500 car. Sounds like that’s about as entry level as it gets, right?

    But then you get to the safety aspects: A full roll cage is required. A fuel cell is required. A racing seat is required. I can go on and on… Items like brakes are considered safety equipment, as well. And guess what – SAFETY EQUIPMENT IS NOT COUNTED TOWARD YOUR $500 VEHICLE COST.

    So, it ends up costing you nearly $10,000 to race your “$500” car for the weekend.

    It’s a joke.

    There aren’t many truly entry-level racing events because no one wants to take the risk to put people on a track without gobs of safety equipment. Who cares if you drive 80 in congested traffic on wet roads with limited visibility on your daily commute, if you want to put your car on a track, in controlled environment, with soft walls, run offs, etc. you better make sure you’ve got a cage, a firesuit, a fuel cell, etc…

    1. allpar

      Good point. LeMons is actually a toughie because people put a huge amount of work into the cars. They start out with $500 but the work put into it is well beyond the average person, too. I see what you mean, though. It is kind of funny when you put it that way.


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