BARGAIN BASEMENT ST - Building a budget race car

BARGAIN BASEMENT ST - Building a budget race car



Original Poster:

85 posts

121 months

Thursday 28th April
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@cheeky_chops We've still got our silver car. It will race this season!

We're open to offers on it, if someone did want to buy it to race it this season. But realistically these cars sell for much less than we've spent on it.. so it makes more sense for us to keep it.

The car will see some action this season for sure. Either stepping in to be used in place of the new car at one or two rounds, or, we have another plan to perhaps involved both cars being out on track racing together.

Watch this space...


Original Poster:

85 posts

121 months

Thursday 28th April
quotequote all

So we had the car. Now to make a firm decision on which series to race in!

We thought very long and hard about this. Ultimately the aim has always been to race in a single-make series where all drivers are in the same car - and to compete for a championship title.

Clearly then, we'd bought the right car to go and compete in the BRSCC Fiesta Championship. The series offers mega close racing, with good driving standards, and is a proven testing-ground for drivers who go on to step up into other series, including a number of current BTCC drivers.

However! We are still only a small privateer team. Budget remains a huge consideration for us. The Fiesta Championship, whilst very affordable compared with many other series (eg. Mini Challenge is hugely more expensive to race in) is still not what you'd call cheap. And I'd spent most of the money I have on buying the new car. We will have support from some sponsorship this season, but not tens of thousands of pounds.

I totted up all of the costs, including doing a few small updates to the car, the new sets of mandatory slick tyres & wet tyres, the seasons entry fee, all of the (quite pricey) race weekend entry fees; and then also considered the very very high likelihood of needing to repair the car after many of the rounds. It came to a lot of money!

The Fiesta Championship is very tight racing. Every car fights for every position. There is, of course, a high standard of driving. But when competition is that fierce, contact between cars is not only inevitable, it is common. I knew that I didn't have the budget to buy the car, race the car, AND fix the car every single month. It was just going to be too tight. I've watched the Fiesta Championship race many times, and there's no getting round the fact the cars take a bit of a pasting.. those guys and girls like to race hard!

So we decided to give ourselves another season racing in more familiar surroundings, in a series where contact between cars is less common, and where we could still compete with other Fiestas for an overall Championship.

We will be racing the full 2022 season in BRSCC Modified Fords Series.

As I've said before, its is a fantastic series. We raced with them at Snetterton last season and had a huge amount of fun. Our silver car was off the pace (in the dry) because most of the Fiestas running in the series are 'Group N' Fiesta Championship spec cars, running the AST suspension, diff, and with proper seam-welded chassis etc. So our new car would fit in very nicely.

The series offers packed grids, and the opportunity to race on track with some of the most beautiful race cars our there from Mk1 Escorts to 500BHP Sierra Cosworths.

We signed up for the entire season!


Original Poster:

85 posts

121 months

Friday 29th April
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In February we had a very successful first shakedown session with the new car at Oulton Park.

The car performed faultlessly. We confirmed a few shortcomings that we had already anticipated, which would need to be rectified before the start of the upcoming season. Namely, the need for a fresh map on the ECU.

But we had zero complaints after what was a very enjoyable and problem free shakedown session. These Fiesta Championship cars handle just as well as you would expect. The turn-in is so precise, and the mid-corner grip levels are simply superb.

The car did 5 stints on track, giving us some decent seat-time learning the Oulton Park circuit for the first time.

We then spent the next month getting a large number of pre-season jobs done.
This included:

- Race seat needed new seat brackets and to be adjusted for the new driver

- Full Milltek stainless system fitted. The car had an exhaust system on it that we didn't like (Vortex) and also had a standard exhaust manifold as per the Fiesta Championship regs. We removed the full Milltek kit from my road car, and fitted it to the new race car, including the 4-2-1 manifold.

- The ECU was currently programmed with the Fiesta Championship spec map from Pumaspeed, so we sent off our Strategem hand-held unit to the guys at Dreamscience. They put a new map on it for us that would suit the exact spec of our new car.

- Fire extinguisher service. The new car has a fancy electronic fire suppression system, so it was sent off for a fresh service.

- New windscreen fitted. The car was mint; apart from a crack in the front screen (right at drivers eye level). So Autoglass were called out for a fresh heated screen.

- Set of slick tyres were fitted to one of our spare sets of Team Dynamics wheels. Tyre choice in Modified Fords is free; so we went with Dunlop slicks, to match our Dunlop Direzzas that we run on our other two cars.

Once the car was ready we also had a second pre-season test day at Brands Hatch.

It was a superb day. With rain, and a little bit of sunshine towards the end of the session too. We were out in full force, with both of our frozen white ST150's on track. VAX the silver car stayed at home, but my Dad brought along his trackday Fiesta for a few laps too.

We managed 4 very solid morning sessions in the new race car, which we have affectionately named 'JNR'. Due to it having originally been built to the Group-N MSA specifications for the BRSCC 'Fiesta Junior' Championship.

It was great having the new car on our home circuit, and getting a feel for how it would feel in race trim. We didn't run slick tyres as the track was wet. In fact, it was almost flooded when we arrived! So we ran the car on semi-slick Dunlop Direzza.

But although we didn't get many hot sessions in, we did get a good amount of seat time and came out of the session feeling very confident in the pace of the car.

Next time on track would be Silverstone for Round 1 of the BRSCC Modified Ford Series.

Edited by SparrowHawk on Friday 29th April 12:45


Original Poster:

85 posts

121 months

Thursday 5th May
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It was a superb weekend of racing at the Silverstone International circuit. Setting up in the iconic F1 pit garages on Saturday was a surreal experience. Preparing our cars in the same space that Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen had been in for the British Grand Prix just months earlier, was the stuff of dreams.

Setting out for Qualifying on Sunday morning from the famous Wing Building pitlane, the new car felt quick immediately. It did not take us long to get the car performing well on its new slick tyres, and we put in a solid lap time of 1:22.7

That Qualifying time put us 6th out of 12 cars running in Class B. We were pleased with this, given it was our first race weekend in the new car – and our first time driving on slick tyres. It shows promise that we are already in the middle of the pack at the start of the season, with ambitions of getting a step closer to the front with every race meeting.

Race 1 we started P27 out of 37 cars on the grid. Including the Class A and Class B+ cars ahead of us. After an eventful 12 laps of door-to-door racing with the red Fiesta of #134 Jason Stone, we finally got ahead after a dart down the inside under braking at the chicane on the final lap. We finished the race just 1 second ahead of Jason and only 1.3 seconds ahead of the white Fiesta of #125 Dan Cowan who was following very closely behind. We finished Race 1 in P20 overall, making up 7 places from our starting position and finishing 6th in class.

Race 2 we started P20 out of 37 cars. After a hectic start we found ourselves hemmed in behind the Fiesta of #12 Tim Sandhu on the approach to Turn 1, and as a result lost out on 3 places in the opening 2 corners. A lengthy 3-way battle then ensued with the silver Fiesta of #13 Dave Barrett and the racing Puma of #76 Kevan Hadfield, with Dave Barret coming out on top. We finished Race 2 in P17 overall, making up 3 places from our starting position and finishing 6th in class.

It was great to spend both races at close-quarters, racing bumper-to-bumper with other Ford Fiestas for the full duration of each race. Even more fantastic was sharing the track with some of the all-time great cars of Ford racing heritage. The Mk1 Ford Escort RSR of #59 Jack Gadd was a real highlight, along with the various Sierra Cosworth and Mk2 Escort examples on track.

Our haul of 30 points from the weekend means we’re now sitting in joint 3rd in Class B after Round 1. With different drivers finishing ahead of us in each of the 2 races, consistency may prove key in this class of very closely matched cars and drivers. Our main goal is to make sure we finish every race in the points, to ensure we are still in the top 3 spots come the end of the season.

A huge thanks to our sponsors Bromley Vehicle Test Centre, Scalextric, Kent Motorsport, Sprint Engineering, and Fuchs UK for supporting us to go racing. Next stop, Round 2 at Brands Hatch in April.


1 posts

1 month

Saturday 7th May
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SparrowHawk said:

The obvious first question was which car to build.

Having owned mostly turbo-charged and all wheel drive cars myself, I was aware that I would not be able to build and run anything like a Subaru Impreza or Mitsubishi Evo on the budget that I was setting myself.

It was always going to be a normally aspirated car, and was most likely to be a front wheel drive hatch

I once owned a Honda Civic race car which was built to a good standard (by someone else!) and I've also had an MX-5 track car so these were both closely considered.

But in the end we decided to build a Fiesta ST.

Here are several reasons why, but the main reasons were:

1. They are cheap, widely available, with great spares availability and inexpensive to upgrade and maintain

2. They are eligible for a large number of club level series & championships

3. We already own another Fiesta ST trackday car (it is my dad's car), which has been in the family for about 9 years now. Having done hundreds of laps in the car I feel very confident behind the wheel; and even more useful... we have good knowledge of these cars and also a fair amount of parts already knocking around. So getting another one to use for my race car build made sense.

Anyone who has been on a trackday in the UK will have been impressed with how these cars can often keep up with some much bigger and more powerful cars. The handling is great for beginners, and they offer some really close competition with other similar cars like Clios and Civics.

So the decision was made to look for a cheap ST150 to use as our base car.
Yes, you can do it for £5k!

It can be tight to bring it in on that budget, it's easy to overspend on each individual component of the build.

That said, careful buying combined with doing work yourself will definitely help.

I'm the championship rep for the Scottish Fiesta st championship, and your second pic is 2019 ST Challenge champ Lorn Murray taking turn 1 at Knockhill.

Great cars.



Original Poster:

85 posts

121 months

Tuesday 10th May
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Round 2 of the Modified Fords at Brands Hatch was a weekend of action-packed races, but frustrating results for us.

We had a lot of fun on track, and had some fierce battles across the weekend. In each race we found ourselves door-to-door with other cars in our class. With a huge number of position changes happening across the races, lots of incidents and over-taking. But ultimately driver errors cost us points.

In Race 1 the racing was excellent. Lots of back and forth, and plenty of close competitive racing. After 10 laps we were on for a potential 3rd in class. But unfortunately I caught a slower car coming down the hill from Druids hairpin - causing me to brake right on the apex of Graham Hill bend - the car broke traction at the crucial moment and spat we wide onto the grass on the right. I headed sideways across the grass for what felt like an eternity managing to slide all the way to the gravel (yes that is quite a long way from the corner!) and then sideways into the gravel.

The car tipped slightly - but thankfully did not roll. Coming to a standstill with my two right wheels in the gravel I thought I was beached, but the left front wheel had just enough traction on the grass to get me going again. I wrenched the car back onto the tarmac and kept going. We did manage to recover, but had lost several places during our unplanned de-tour. In the end it was only good enough for 6th in class. These things will happen when you're fighting hard for podium positions.

In Race 2 we got an electric start. We took a couple of places on the opening few corners and then managed to build a decent gap to the following cars. We were sitting very comfortably 4th in class with a 3 or 4 seconds over the next Class B cars. But in the final 4/5 laps there was a significant drop-off in tyre performance and grip - potentially the result of over-driving the car in the opening laps? Our lap times increased, and as a result our gap diminished, and we slipped down several places in the final couple of laps. Very frustrating! And this time only good enough for 8th in class.. our worst result of the season so far. Gutting, considering how well we were running for the majority of the race.

Brands Indy was intended to be our opportunity to score our first podiums of the campaign. Instead we came away feeling points had been left out there on the track.

But motorsport is also about having fun, and we had lots of that! The racing was intense, and we had plenty of very close battles with several other cars. The spectators and commentators at the circuit absolutely loved it! The Modified Ford Series is certainly attracting a lot of attention.

We’ll be back at Brands later this season, with the intention of taking home some silverware then. After Round 2 we are currently sitting 5th in the points table, out of 20 drivers in Class B.

Next stop, Knockhill up in Scotland!


Original Poster:

85 posts

121 months

Wednesday 11th May
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Wow. What a circuit!

We’ve been meaning to visit Knockhill for some time. But it’s a 10hour drive from where we are based, in Kent. So it’s a big commitment. But it was definitely worth it!

Having now done a day of testing and a day of racing there, I can confidently say its in the top 3 most enjoyable circuits I’ve ever driven. Up there with Cadwell Park, Oulton Park, and Brands Hatch. A proper old school park circuit.

The journey really did take 10 hours of driving though. Made worse by the fact I was flying solo this weekend; Dad couldn’t make this one so I’d be doing all of the driving alone in our truck. Setting off quite late on Friday evening I made it as far as the Yorkshire Dales, before stopping for a few hours kip.

Note to self: when planning ahead and booking a campsite for the night, make sure not to arrive at 2am in the pitch black. It may result in you not being able to find the right place, and a very uncomfortable night sleeping in the cab of your truck..!!!

After about 3 hours kip I was woken up by some very noisy cows and continued the next half of the journey up to Scotland. Arriving at Knockhill just in time for the testing sessions in the afternoon.

The Knockhill circuit it a proper track. Nothing fancy. Just a wicked stretch of tarmac coiled around the hill, with a few buildings, a meagre pitlane, and a shed load of really friendly and enthusiastic people. I loved it as soon as I arrived.

Had the usual fun trying to put up a tent on tarmac. Always fun trying to use wheels as tent pegs. But with the wind up there I wasn’t taking any chances, and used the truck as an anchor point too. I pitched up with our friends DC Autoservices and said hello to the other Modified Fords lads who’d made the journey north.

It was great to see such a healthy turn-out, with many people coming just as far as I had. It’s a credit to Paul and his team, that they had such a strong grid at the furthest away track. It really is an absolutely cracking series to be part of.

Practice went pretty well. I knew I wasn’t going to be particularly quick, being at the circuit for the first time, and also taking it reasonably easy to make sure I kept the car on the track and didn’t risk any chance of not being on track for race day tomorrow.

We put in some times around the 1:04 mark. Not fast. But steady enough, and only a few tenths off some of our competitors. Plenty good enough to learn the track, and set us up for some good racing with the other Fiestas and Pumas tomorrow.

Some of the lads went for an evening meal / race club social. But I was too wiped out from my long journey and lack of sleep, so had an early night.

Qualifying the next morning went well. We had a bit more pace, learning to follow quicker cars through fast corners like Duffus Dip, Butcher’s, and Clark’s. I was really able to see how much more speed some other drivers were carrying into those sections – and tried my best to emulate it. Not easy when you feel like the track is not a very forgiving one!

Knockhill seemed to me like a circuit that would reward you for taking more risk. If you were willing to go in harder, and have faith in your car and your ability, you’d be rewarded with laptime. I realise this principle is the case with pretty much any race circuit, but it felt particularly relevant here. If you were willing to fully commit to the uphill blind chicane, and willing to throw caution to the wind at the next right hander, Clark’s, then your speed up the back straight was significantly higher. But neither of those are easy corners, and the risks were high!

I qualified behind both of the Team Hadfield Pumas, and another tenth off Dan in his DC Autoservices Fiesta ST. We hoped we might be closer to the red Boamerang Racing Fiesta of Dave Guthrie, but he was leagues ahead – putting in seriously quick times of 1:00 flat and looking very likely to win our class.

Race 1 went as hoped. We got a decent start and were right on Dan’s tail in the white ST, and went through turn 3 door-to-door with Kev in his red Puma.

At the uphill chicane, I arrived over the crest to find Dan spinning in front of me and had to slam the brakes on as he spun first left and then right.. narrowly avoiding contact. The next few laps were spent chasing down the two Pumas.

Kev is a very experienced racer, and we had a great time battling it out for about 10 laps. He was much quicker through the tail end of the lap, and I was quicker in the middle sector. Well matched, we had to also conduct out battle whilst the fast Class A cars came roaring past. With many of them completing a lap in just 50 something seconds, it didn’t take long before there were all manner of fast Escorts screaming up behind us!

With a few laps left I took my chance at Clark’s, and followed a Class A Sierra Cosworth as it powered past us, ducking up the inside of Kev in the process. What followed was an agonising overtake that took approximately 15 seconds to complete.. all the way up the back straight towards the hairpin. Unfortunately for the faster cars, two of them caught us whilst this arduous overtake was going on, and so they had to go three abreast into the big braking zone before Taylor’s hairpin, with one of the Escorts dipping its wheels onto the grass in the process. Sorry lads!

The last couple of laps were completed and we took the chequered flag just ahead of the red Puma but still behind the yellow Puma of Mark. It was good enough for P5 in class, and a decent stash of points. But more importantly, it had been great fun. What a track this is to drive!

Between our races we had the opportunity to watch the Super Tourers in the David Leslie Trophy race. This included John Cleland in his ex-works Vauxhall Vectra Super Touring Car. And as a very special added twist, some of our cars from Modified Fords would be joining them on track in this race too! The Pre-1990 cars from our series would line up alongside the Super Tourers and give them a run for their money.

The Modified Ford boys did not disappoint. With Jack Gadd in his Mk1 Escort RSR, not only catching, but eventually overtaking Cleland in his ex-works Vauxhall – to great cheers from the rest of the Modified Fords teams & drivers watching on from the stand at the hairpin.

Later in the afternoon we were back on track for Race 2. The start was less good this time, dropping a couple of places and then finding myself a couple of car lengths back from the Pumas and from Dan in his white ST. The race got underway more smoothly this time without many incidents, but I did notice a couple of the faster Class B cars pull off the circuit. Without overtaking anyone I calculated I was already sitting in a potential podium position; happy days!

With a few laps gone I was with one of the Hadfield Pumas again, but this time it was the yellow Puma of my pal Mark. Kev had gotten ahead of him on the start straight, and so now I had a different colour rear bumper to stare at!

After a few more laps I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to make a pass. I was catching him through the middle sector, but losing him again through the final sector and along the start finish straight. Still, I clung on as best I could, also with the thought in the back of my mind that if I tried anything silly I might be costing myself a podium place.

Then, with just a few laps remaining, disaster struck. I came through the fast corner at Clark’s and the engine stuttered – then I lost power. I pulled over to the right to let a faster car past, and then cut the power and restarted the car. It roared into life and I put my foot down again. Then it happened again, the engine didn’t cut out but I had no power.

Another fast car caught me at the hairpin and had to go very wide around me, as I crawled up the hill at barely 20mph I was forced to keep right, and so couldn’t take the pitlane exit. The closing speeds of the Class A cars are incredible even at race pace, so with me now going at a snails pace this speed difference had suddenly magnified to something approaching 100MPH. Not good!

I tried to restart the car again as I coasted along the pit straight, but it was as if someone was shutting off the fuel each time and the engine just cut out. Eventually I stopped trying and let the car roll gently down Duffus Dip, and pulled off onto the service road. My race was over.

The stewards pushed me to safety and got the car turned around. Just a minute or so later, the red flags came out and the race was ended early. A Mk1 Focus had lost a wheel at the fastest point on the track.. a scary moment for the marshals as the wheel continued at great speed off the circuit - and another reminder of just how dedicated they are, putting themselves in danger so that we can all enjoy racing. I know I was certainly grateful for the marshals who kindly got my car facing the right way again, and then safely back to the paddock after the race.

So a DNF for Race 2. My first of the season so far. We spent a bit of time trying to diagnose the issue in the paddock. But without a proper ECU reader, all we could find out was that the ECU believed there was a fault somewhere in the throttle set up. We tried swapping the throttle body and swapping the throttle pedal. But nothing foxed the issue. It also didn’t appear to be a fuel issue; and from what we could see it wasn’t a spark issue either.

In the end we gave up scratching our heads and left it for another day. The car was winched onto our truck, and the weekend of racing came to an end.

Besides the 10hours of driving that lay ahead, it had been an awesome weekend. The circuit is just fantastic to drive – I could tell I just needed more seat time here to learn the quirks of the track, and to build my confidence to take some of the quicker corners at the same speeds some other were doing them at. Knockhill would reward you for the effort and the risk.

Despite our DNF, we’d still banked some good points from Race 1. We’d also had a good amount of seat time in the car, with the testing we’d done on Saturday. All in all a cracking way to spend a few days. Now for the very long journey South…!

Edited by SparrowHawk on Wednesday 11th May 17:57


546 posts

203 months

Thursday 12th May
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Good read....again! Unlucky with the DNF- so frustrating.

Stick a bit of ply on/ in the truck, when you take the car off use the truck and the ply as a base for your tent.

Rajput Aqeel

7 posts

1 month

Thursday 26th May
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I have developed a taste for motor racing on a budget, from BB5 area


Original Poster:

85 posts

121 months

Monday 30th May
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Sparrowhawk Racing came away from Donington Park with a decent haul of points, and sitting 2nd in the Class B Championship standings - after a fantastic weekend sharing the circuit with the British GT Championship and TCR UK Series.

It was a tough start to race day after finding out at scrutineering that one of the exterior buttons on our extinguisher had suddenly stopped working.

A number of other drivers jumped in to help diagnose and fix the problem just minutes before our Qualifying session began. A huge thanks to them - a great example of why the Modified Fords paddock is the best I've experienced.

We did need to take the car back to Scrutineering to be signed off, and so missed the beginning of Qualifying. But we managed to get the car out for the last 10mins of the session.

Only getting 3 laps led to a fairly poor lap-time, so we started Race 1 near the back of the grid.

Race 1 we started 10th in Class. We made some good overtakes at the start of the race, and kept out of trouble to bring the car home 7th in Class - racing all the way to the line and finishing just a few hundredths of a second behind the car in front. Not our best result, but some solid points banked nonetheless.

Race 2 was a lot of fun. After getting the jump on #127 Dominic Ryan at the start, what followed was an excellent defensive display from Richard, with the red DMR Fiesta tagged right onto his rear bumper for 7 straight laps!

It was an incident packed race including multiple cars going off the circuit, and one car on fire. Following a safety car, we were back behind #125 Dan Cowan in his white Fiesta sitting in 3rd place.

Richard went for a move on the restart, attempting to go round the outside through the Craner Curves, but Dan knew they were fighting for a podium spot and slammed the door firmly shut!

The racing continued all the way to the line, but Dan came out on top.

Race 2 we finished 4th in Class. Another solid result and more great points banked. But another podium finish just out of reach!
Donington is an incredible drivers circuit, and it was a real privilege sharing the weekend with the famous GT Cars, with the likes of McLaren, Porsche, Lamborghini and Aston Martin all racing there.

After Round 4 of the Modified Ford Series, and more consistent race finishes, we're sitting in 2nd position in the Class B Championship table on 106 points.

The Class B Championship title is still very much within reach.

Little Pete

1,125 posts

72 months

Sunday 5th June
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Great thread, thanks for the updates. Oulton Park is my local circuit so I’ll be there to cheer you on!