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Tuesday 27th February 2007

Cheap as chips racing

Ever wanted to go racing without losing a fortune? Nick Hall has some ideas.


Locost racing
Locost racing

If youíre combing the classifieds for that perfect trackday toy under £10,000 and are longing for the day when you can round Paddock Hill Bend on an armful of opposite lock, waving to the adoring and largely imaginary crowd, then this could complicate your life. For that money, you can go racing.

Weíre not talking lawnmower battles on the village green either, or the myriad of autotests, kart championships and other competitive sports that can be had for a fraction of that money and are just as valid in their own right. These are bona fide national circuit championships, and a full year can be yours for the price of a world weary Lotus Elise, right down to the car, entry fees, overalls, trailer and race licence.

If youíre fond of crashing, buzzing engines or running at the head of the pack then throw these numbers out the window. Motorsport can cost your life savings, sanity and house faster than a cocaine diet if you let it. Even the cheapest forms of racing have those looking to buy that extra tenth of a second and some annoying soul will spend your whole budget on tyres.

But if you just want to compete, have some fun and call yourself a racing driver, then there are more sub-10K options than species of ant. Well there arenít, but you know...

There are plenty more and we all have favourites, but here are just a few to whet your appetite:

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Locost Racing

Ron Champion became a legend with his book How to Build a Sportscar for £250. While thatís about as optimistic for a competitive race car as a Jade Goody peacekeeping mission to India, you can still do this series on the cheap.

In the UK itís run by the 750 Motor Club, which is the heart and soul of budget motor racing in the UK and the car is built from old Ford bits, so spares are relatively cheap. The Locost weighs less than an anorexic ballerina, so the 1300cc Crossflow is more than good enough for 105mph and with everyone driving roughly the same equipment youíre guaranteed some wheel-to-wheel action Ė or abject humiliation.

It looks like a Caterham, is more fun than should be allowed and youíll get a seasonís racing comprising nine meetings with three double headers. Keep it out the wall and by the end you should have a trackday car and lots of change from £9,000. Still want the Elise?

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Classic Touring Car Racing

Have a penchant for something big and rear wheel drive? The Classic Touring Car Club has the answer in the pre-í93 Touring Car class.

If it had four seats and was marketed before í93, with a few exceptions, then you can race it in one of six classes catering for cars up to and beyond 3.5 litres. The Auto Traderís bargain bucket section, even PistonHeads' Shed of the Week, is a good place to start as the open market is flooded with Rover SD1s, Capris and even BMW 7 Series out there just waiting for a new lease of life.

A fully race-prepped car can come in well under £2,000 and, as long as it has a rollcage and fire extinguisher, itís pretty much good to go for 10 race meetings and some old school tailsliding fun. You can enter a front-drive Golf, or just about anything else for that matter, itís not a hardcore, exclusive sorority.

The Production BMW class looks like a winner for anyone counting pennies together for a racing budget and with 10 meetings. If that beaten old 316 wonít make it past the next MOT, strap on some numbers to it and take it racing.

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Formula Vee

Some of the worldís greatest drivers started out in Formula Vee, including Niki Lauda, Jochen Rindt and Keke Rosberg, but now it is firmly in the hands of the clubman racer as an alternative to the more expensive Formula Ford.

With 16 rounds on pretty much every major race track in the nation, this series is top value for money and while the car isnít eligible for trackday entertainment, you can go general testing and have a blast.

No road car, converted or otherwise, can hold a candle to the sheer exhilaration of a purpose-built single-seater and youíll wonder how you even thought about anything else when youíre barrelling down the main straight at 130mph with cars darting every which way and insects exploding with nuclear force on your visor.

This is pretty much as close as circuit racing gets and huge grids means that somebody has to be the same standard, so youíre bound to have fun.

Accidents are more likely and with open-wheel cars can lead to a Freejack-style airborne moment, which at best will prove expensive, and tyres and set-up make a bigger difference. But itís a friendly series and information, if not rubber, will be shared freely.

And you can sell it on at the end of the year for pretty much what you paid, more if you win.

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Porsche Open Championship

Now surely this is reaching too far? Well if you forget about the house-priced 800bhp+ 911s at the head of the field and opt for a Class 4 944 then yes, youíll easily do a season on under £10,000 and once again end up with a perfectly serviceable trackday car when youíre done.

Minimal modifications are allowed in the series and horsepower is limited to 196, so itís a good place for novice racers to find their wings. Itís important to start with the best car you can afford, but once itís paid for then safety mods are pretty much all thatís allowed and the rest is up to you.

Be prepared to get blown off the track, as youíll run with the big boys, but the race within a race in front of a big crowd is all part of the fun. Buzz an engine or crash the car and prepare to weep, Porsche repairs donít come cheap whatever the carís vintage, but what a great way to start racing.

The genius part is that if you really take to Porsche racing you can trick up the car, move up in class, win the club championship and a free prize drive in the Porsche Carrera Cup is yours for the taking. From there, Le Mans awaits -- maybe.

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Mighty Minis

Not only do you get to race the most well-loved car in the known world, Class A of the Mighty Mini Championship was crafted with beginners in mind and the front-drive option might simply suit some driversí style better.

Any single-point injection Mini Cooper built between 1991 and 1996 can enter and modifications are kept to the bare minimum. Yokohama tyres and Gaz shock absorbers the only real performance mods allowed, and everybody has them, beyond that itís a case of buying a strong base car and heading out there to have fun,

There are eight meetings in 2007 with four double-headers, so thereís plenty of racing to be done, and with such minimal modifications you could almost certainly tax it and drive it to the circuit.

Pictures by Paul Williams (Touring Cars) and Steve Williams (750MC and Locost). Other pics courtesy of race series.

Nick Hall
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Author Discussion

Drakuul

Original Poster:

13 posts

89 months

[news]
Tuesday 27th February 2007 quote quote all
There's also the Hillclimb/Sprint series of races available for much less than 10k, even if you buy a decent Westfield for £7000, you should still have change... and less chance of bending the car.

jmatras

220 posts

103 months

[news]
Tuesday 27th February 2007 quote quote all
How to make a small fortune racing:





Start with a large one.

robbiemeister

1,307 posts

150 months

[news]
Tuesday 27th February 2007 quote quote all
jmatras said:
How to make a small fortune racing:

Start with a large one.


Rob Walker

zumbruk

4,781 posts

140 months

[news]
Tuesday 27th February 2007 quote quote all
Drakuul said:
There's also the Hillclimb/Sprint series of races available for much less than 10k, even if you buy a decent Westfield for £7000, you should still have change... and less chance of bending the car.


I am about to do the TVRCC Speed Championship (sprints & hillclimbs) for the fourth year, and at a rough guess I reckon it costs me about £2K to do a season; entry fees, insurance, fuel for the tow car, wear and tear, accommodation, greaseburgers and so forth. You could do it cheaper if you drove to events and camped, but I reckon £100 per event is the absolute minimum you could get it down to. Obviously, you need to buy the car to start with, and you need a crash hat and flameproofs, but that's it, providing you compete in a roadgoing class.

Obviously, if you get into car modifications, or crash uninsured, then the sky's the limit.

mafioso

2,184 posts

94 months

[news]
Tuesday 27th February 2007 quote quote all
Age limit!?
Advertisement

jmatras

220 posts

103 months

[news]
Tuesday 27th February 2007 quote quote all
robbiemeister said:
jmatras said:
How to make a small fortune racing:

Start with a large one.


Rob Walker


Ah, thanks for the attribution.

Now who was it who defined "boat" as a hole in the water into which you pour money?

Tuna

4,685 posts

164 months

[news]
Tuesday 27th February 2007 quote quote all
Not quite so fast, but a load of fun is the Vintage Sports Car Club - you can get an Austin Seven for a few grand, and a Fraser Nash is not much more. Both are a lot of fun, easy to work on, and the races themselves are not expensive to enter. You don't need a pit crew or to worry about having the latest or greatest kit and the club itself is pretty sociable. Many racers drive to the meets in the cars they race and there's quite a good variety of tracks and races to attend.

Kermit power

16,295 posts

93 months

[news]
Tuesday 27th February 2007 quote quote all
When I marshalled on the truck racing at Thruxton last year, one of the guys I was on post was telling us about attending one of the very first truck racing meets.

On the last lap of the penultimate race, one guy crashed his truck and completely totalled it. Just before the final race, an announcement went out on the Tannoy to ask if anyone had a spare tractor unit and could pull a trailor of frozen fish to Spain, leaving that evening....

The guy had turned up in his company truck, parked his load and entered the race! Can't beat that for a "cheap" race entry suddenly becoming expensive! laugh

zumbruk

4,781 posts

140 months

[news]
Tuesday 27th February 2007 quote quote all
mafioso said:
Age limit!?


If you're under 18 you need your parent's consent. Our oldest competitor is in his mid 60's.

spnracing

1,539 posts

151 months

[news]
Tuesday 27th February 2007 quote quote all
Nick Hall said:

Classic Touring Cars
Estimated first year budget: £6,000


I was hoping to spend less than half that...

robbiemeister

1,307 posts

150 months

[news]
Wednesday 28th February 2007 quote quote all
Tuna said:
Not quite so fast, but a load of fun is the Vintage Sports Car Club - you can get an Austin Seven for a few grand, and a Fraser Nash is not much more. Both are a lot of fun, easy to work on, and the races themselves are not expensive to enter. You don't need a pit crew or to worry about having the latest or greatest kit and the club itself is pretty sociable. Many racers drive to the meets in the cars they race and there's quite a good variety of tracks and races to attend.


I agree with all the above and would add that if you turn one over you'll be lucky to get out alive!

Tuna

4,685 posts

164 months

[news]
Wednesday 28th February 2007 quote quote all
robbiemeister said:
Tuna said:
Not quite so fast, but a load of fun is the Vintage Sports Car Club - you can get an Austin Seven for a few grand, and a Fraser Nash is not much more. Both are a lot of fun, easy to work on, and the races themselves are not expensive to enter. You don't need a pit crew or to worry about having the latest or greatest kit and the club itself is pretty sociable. Many racers drive to the meets in the cars they race and there's quite a good variety of tracks and races to attend.


I agree with all the above and would add that if you turn one over you'll be lucky to get out alive!


On the whole, VSCC racing is somewhat more gentlemanly than many of the clubs, and thankfully the accident rate is pretty low.

lord summerisle

7,764 posts

105 months

[news]
Wednesday 28th February 2007 quote quote all
zumbruk said:
mafioso said:
Age limit!?


If you're under 18 you need your parent's consent. Our oldest competitor is in his mid 60's.


and theres several series for the under 18s - saxmax, ginetta junior....

InRong Ghia

98 posts

164 months

[news]
Wednesday 28th February 2007 quote quote all
zumbruk said:

mafioso said:

Age limit!?


If you're under 18 you need your parent's consent. Our oldest competitor is in his mid 60's.


And then there was old Wally who competed in Sprints/Hillclimbs till he died in his 80s

lord summerisle

7,764 posts

105 months

[news]
Wednesday 28th February 2007 quote quote all
aye, theres a chap you heads up harewood in his singleseater who in his 70s, at least.

archibold

76 posts

163 months

[news]
Wednesday 28th February 2007 quote quote all
I think this is a dangerous and irresponsible article!

I also was tempted when I was young into "cheap" racing, I thought I could handle it just a few TVRs and it wouldn't become a problem. It's just a bit of a laugh with some friends and you don't need it, but they convince you to try it (it's peer pressure).

Then you find that the sprint "club" racing just doesn't give you a sufficient high, so you move on to some of the new longer lasting "enduarance" type. You still think that you can handle it...then you end up mainlining BGT and you are prepared to sell your house, your children (unborn), abuse your credit card or take any kind of job that pays enough for you to get another fix.

Just say No to cheap racing!

Archibold

stig

10,251 posts

164 months

[news]
Wednesday 28th February 2007 quote quote all
I did a few years in Locost. Great fun, but to coin another racing adage; Racing costs money - how much do you want to win?

Excellent experience, but a complete cash burner regardless of level

redlake27

1,867 posts

124 months

[news]
Wednesday 28th February 2007 quote quote all
Fancy racing in a new championship that is promoted as a BTCC feeder series and is televised. For well under £10K per year?

The Dunlop Sport Maxx Cup is the answer. Designed for newer cars to attract dealer and manufacturer support, it does cater for cars for up to 5 years after that body shape ceased production.

Therefore, something like a Punto HGT, MG ZR, Clio 182, Lupo Gti, Alfa GTV or 156 (all cars that were launched in the late 90s are available secondhand for peanuts, yet only ceased production very recently) could be a cheap way to getting on the grid in a professionally run series.

Regulations at barc.net or driversknow.co.uk motorsport section

Two rounds at each event - televised on Sky and Motors


R1 GTR

2,112 posts

93 months

[news]
Wednesday 28th February 2007 quote quote all
lord summerisle said:
zumbruk said:
mafioso said:
Age limit!?


If you're under 18 you need your parent's consent. Our oldest competitor is in his mid 60's.


and theres several series for the under 18s - saxmax, ginetta junior....


Whats the age limit for Ginneta Junior?

jimminy cricket

125 posts

88 months

[news]
Wednesday 28th February 2007 quote quote all
these guys must be as cheap?

http://s114047911.websitehome.co.uk/4
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