A dubious self-build racing plan

A dubious self-build racing plan

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Grant.C

Original Poster:

45 posts

27 months

Wednesday 1st February 2023
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I'd like to get into club racing but have significant constraints, the biggest being lack of money, a place indoors to store a car, and anywhere to keep a trailer.

You may have seen my other thread where I asked about arrive & drive options. Now I'm exploring the build route. I've never done anything more than change a wheel, but I'd like to and I think the main bits are within my grasp. I'd do it over a longish period, learning as I go and buying things as money allows. If I never make it as far as racing, hopefully I'll have enjoyed the process and I'll be able to recoup some of my money. I've already got my licence and fireproofs so it's the car next.

Plan looks like this:
  1. Buy a donor car. Keep it road legal for the duration.
  2. Do what I can in the driveway over the next year or so - stripping, brakes, suspension, etc.
  3. During this time, do track days, maybe try a hill climb or two, driving the car to the track.
  4. If I bit in/break down, get it towed home.
  5. Get the difficult bits such as roll cage done professionally.
  6. Don't bother with anything difficult and non-essential like engine rebuilds, bushings, wiring loom (at least initially).
  7. Rinse & repeat until car is race ready.
  8. Go racing!
In terms of car/series my current choice is 116 Trophy, although I'm not married to it. Endurance seems cheapest, there's also a sprint option, and who doesn't want to race a bimmer?!

I'm sure there are many flaws in my plan - some of my main concerns are:
  • How difficult is it to keep a race car road legal?
  • Will I need to spend an excessive amount on tools?
  • Am I kidding myself that it can be done without changing bushings/engine rebuild/etc?
  • What if the regs have changed, series has folded/filled up, etc. by the time I'm ready?
  • Will my middle-aged body be able to cope with driving a race car all over the country?
Obviously it's not ideal, but it is doable?

Thanks

df76

3,715 posts

281 months

Wednesday 1st February 2023
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I’ve done something similar with my Civic EP3 build. Everything I’ve done is working towards it being a race car. A front cage, extinguisher and cut off and it would be there. A friend also drove his previous clio race car to and from the race track, and used it in castle Combe saloons. Specialist insurance is available.

However, it will be massively more expensive than buying a prepped car.. and it really depends on where you live. A race car on the road is horrible and you don’t always want to be worried about breaking down and not making it home.

Very sensible to get some track days under the belt and enter some hillclimbs. Starts to give you some insight.. and also realisation of how much it all costs!

Dynion Araf Uchaf

4,529 posts

226 months

Wednesday 1st February 2023
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with your limited mechanical experience, plus outside only build space, plus your desire to keep it road legal I think you are going to really struggle to build the car.

Firstly , as you have no experience you are probably going to bodge a lot of stuff, even a bolt in roll cage requires footings to be welded - can you weld?
You have to follow the blue book to ensure that fire ex's are plumbed in correctly. fuel lines, high intensity brake lights, seat mounts, cut offs, oil catch cans, etc etc.

You can certainly get away with not replacing bushes, suspension, steering arms, drop links but it might not optimise the car doing so.

Personally, if you really do want to go down the self build route, I'd probably buy a road car which could lend itself to track use, e.g Clio, Suzuki Swift, mini cooper s, and get a professional to fit the cage and the minimum required safety equipment. A bolt in cage and safety stuff could probably be fitted for <2k, and that'll get you a road legal race car. And I doubt you could do it for less, as you have to buy the tools , make loads of mistakes and probably pay someone to correct those mistakes.

However you can compete in a completely standard car in autotests, sprints, hillclimbs, auto solos, targa rallies, 12 cars, road rallies. With the benefit that these are also a fairly cheap way into motorsport.

Better to do that I think. then one day when you have some cash you can go circuit racing, and have some competition experience at the same time.

edited to add that there is a cheap 206gti series as part of the track attack race club
https://racecollective.com/championships/206-gti-c...

3k gets you a car.


Edited by Dynion Araf Uchaf on Wednesday 1st February 18:04

roddo

570 posts

198 months

Wednesday 1st February 2023
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If you are interested in a 206 I have one for sale

drmotorsport

778 posts

246 months

Thursday 2nd February 2023
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OK for perspective i'm currently building my 9th race car in the space of 22 years. I'm not in the automotive trade and am just a mere IT engineer, my cars have mostly been prepped by myself on the driveway/garage with cages/welding done by professionals. I'm reasonably handy with tools and DIY but it all takes loads of time and planning. While I started out with cheap (rusty) Ford Fiesta XR2's I gradually got a bit more ambitious with the builds over the years as I picked up knowledge and experience.

My 2p: While keeping a basic race car road legal is quite straightforward, it is a miserable experience driving a car on rock hard springs on the road. also seat harnesses can be a minefield with E ratings and MOT/construction and use legalities. You absolutely need a trailer because at some point the car will definitely be broken/crashed and you will need a decent selection of tools, spare wheels, fuel and race clobber with you. AA/RAC etc take a dim view of recovering cars from even outside race circuits these days.

alisdairm

254 posts

164 months

Thursday 2nd February 2023
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Sparrow Hawk did exactly what you plan to do.

Bought an MOT failed Fiesta ST and built a race car on his driveway, kept it road legal, all for nearly under £5k

https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&...

bumskins

1,577 posts

18 months

Thursday 2nd February 2023
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alisdairm said:
Sparrow Hawk did exactly what you plan to do.

Bought an MOT failed Fiesta ST and built a race car on his driveway, kept it road legal, all for nearly under £5k

https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&...
This is a great thread and worth reading if not done so already.

Kudos OP for considering taking the self-built approach - i'd consider the MR2 championship aswell (variety of cars eligible, Mk3 MR2s still available pretty cheaply and from what i've seen of the racing it's close-fought stuff) but heard the 116i Cup is well-supported also.

Grant.C

Original Poster:

45 posts

27 months

Thursday 2nd February 2023
quotequote all
df76 said:
I’ve done something similar with my Civic EP3 build. Everything I’ve done is working towards it being a race car. A front cage, extinguisher and cut off and it would be there.
Cool. Do you still intend to race it? Do you know what series you could go in?

df76 said:
However, it will be massively more expensive than buying a prepped car.. and it really depends on where you live. A race car on the road is horrible and you don’t always want to be worried about breaking down and not making it home.
Yeah getting home is a concern, but I figure I'll work out the options of getting it towed before I head out, and if it happens once or twice it shouldn't break the bank.

What makes you say building is more expensive? I've only been looking at 116s, but people reckon the build costs £8k or so whereas all the prepared cars I've seen are £12k+. I'll need to get the spreadsheet out before I make any rash decisions.

Grant.C

Original Poster:

45 posts

27 months

Thursday 2nd February 2023
quotequote all
Dynion Araf Uchaf said:
Personally, if you really do want to go down the self build route, I'd probably buy a road car which could lend itself to track use, e.g Clio, Suzuki Swift, mini cooper s, and get a professional to fit the cage and the minimum required safety equipment.
Yeah I'm planning to get the important/difficult bits done professionally, roll cage etc.

I can certainly see the benefit of getting something that would be more suited to the 'intermediate' phase, but the goal is still to race so it would need to be something with a series I want to race in. I've got an M140i road car that I've done some track days in, could keep doing that but it's limited fun after a while.

Dynion Araf Uchaf said:
There is a cheap 206gti series as part of the track attack race club
https://racecollective.com/championships/206-gti-c...

3k gets you a car.
Interesting - can you really get one for £3k though? Most of the donor cars are that much on AutoTrader. Seems like the cost of donor car + standard safety equipment is pretty similar for most I looked at (admittedly not many). Main differences are the mandatory series equipment - shocks etc. Maybe there are people selling cheap ones somewhere, but I've not come across them.

I assume any prebuilt race cars wouldn't be road legal either, although maybe that could be sorted out.

Grant.C

Original Poster:

45 posts

27 months

Thursday 2nd February 2023
quotequote all
drmotorsport said:
My 2p: While keeping a basic race car road legal is quite straightforward, it is a miserable experience driving a car on rock hard springs on the road. also seat harnesses can be a minefield with E ratings and MOT/construction and use legalities. You absolutely need a trailer because at some point the car will definitely be broken/crashed and you will need a decent selection of tools, spare wheels, fuel and race clobber with you. AA/RAC etc take a dim view of recovering cars from even outside race circuits these days.
Thanks, yes I'm also in IT. So would you need to keep a seatbelt for it to be road legal, or can you just use a harness assuming you can find one to please all the authorities?

The trouble is it's not so much a choice between getting a trailer and driving to the track, but between driving to the track and not going. I've got nowhere to put a trailer (or any way to tow one, at present). Maybe down the line that will change. I doubt I'd be doing a whole season so I'd go for the tracks nearer me to make things a little easier (Croft/Cadewll/Oulton/etc.)

I wasn't thinking to get the AA to tow me home, just paying a recovery service if & when needed.

Fitting all the gear in the car could be a challenge for sure. Maybe I need to find a series racing estates..

Grant.C

Original Poster:

45 posts

27 months

Thursday 2nd February 2023
quotequote all
alisdairm said:
Sparrow Hawk did exactly what you plan to do.

Bought an MOT failed Fiesta ST and built a race car on his driveway, kept it road legal, all for nearly under £5k

https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&...
I did thanks, yes - great thread, in fact that's what made me think it might be possible without a trailer and garage. That guy seems to know a lot more about building cars than me though!

I've seen a few build videos/threads. Sometimes they fill me with hope, sometimes with despair..

LennyM1984

686 posts

71 months

Thursday 2nd February 2023
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I'm not sure what your budget is but have you considered a Ginetta G40 GRDC/Cup? I picked one up for £12k.

For that you get a proper race car with an FIA approved cage, plumbed in extinguisher, electrical cut offs, and everything you need to hit the track. Mine isn't currently road legal (I would need to put the handbrake on) but many owners do drive them to the circuit (they had to be IVA'd and road registered as part of the series regulation). Mine has a V5 (sorn) and a number plate assigned but it's never been MOT'd and I think has lived it's entire life as a racer.

It's not hugely quick in a straight line (135bhp and about 900kg wet) but on track days you'll be quicker than almost everything road based over a lap (making it extremely annoying when somebody refuses to let you past in their 300bhp+ hot hatch/sports car/hyper saloon).

Mine is a bit scruffy (crap paint job) but for the price I paid, I am extremely happy.

In the interests of full disclosure, whilst they are road legal, I wouldn't say that they are a great road car. They are low, stiff, a bit leaky (water and fumes) and the build quality makes a TVR look like a Rolls Royce. For driving to and from a circuit it would be fine but it's properly hardcore for anything more than that.

They did briefly make a Ginetta G40R (R = Road) with a 200bhp Duratec but by all accounts it wasn't a particularly well developed product (they basically took the race car, stuck a different engine in it, added some nice looking mats, and called it a road car).

ETA: I've recently bought a trailer (I was renting them before) and will be storing Car + Trailer together for £120 a month (we already have too many cars on the drive and my dad was moaning about me taking over his garage space).

Edited by LennyM1984 on Thursday 2nd February 15:40


Edited by LennyM1984 on Thursday 2nd February 15:43

andy97

4,716 posts

225 months

Thursday 2nd February 2023
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LennyM1984 said:
I'm not sure what your budget is but have you considered a Ginetta G40 GRDC/Cup? I picked one up for £12k.

For that you get a proper race car with an FIA approved cage, plumbed in extinguisher, electrical cut offs, and everything you need to hit the track. Mine isn't currently road legal (I would need to put the handbrake on) but many owners do drive them to the circuit (they had to be IVA'd and road registered as part of the series regulation). Mine has a V5 (sorn) and a number plate assigned but it's never been MOT'd and I think has lived it's entire life as a racer.

It's not hugely quick in a straight line (135bhp and about 900kg wet) but on track days you'll be quicker than almost everything road based over a lap (making it extremely annoying when somebody refuses to let you past in their 300bhp+ hot hatch/sports car/hyper saloon).

Mine is a bit scruffy (crap paint job) but for the price I paid, I am extremely happy.

In the interests of full disclosure, whilst they are road legal, I wouldn't say that they are a great road car. They are low, stiff, a bit leaky (water and fumes) and the build quality makes a TVR look like a Rolls Royce. For driving to and from a circuit it would be fine but it's properly hardcore for anything more than that.

They did briefly make a Ginetta G40R (R = Road) with a 200bhp Duratec but by all accounts it wasn't a particularly well developed product (they basically took the race car, stuck a different engine in it, added some nice looking mats, and called it a road car).

ETA: I've recently bought a trailer (I was renting them before) and will be storing Car + Trailer together for £120 a month (we already have too many cars on the drive and my dad was moaning about me taking over his garage space).

Edited by LennyM1984 on Thursday 2nd February 15:40


Edited by LennyM1984 on Thursday 2nd February 15:43
I think that £12k for a G40 sounds like a good deal. Zetec engine and Type 9 gearbox make them pretty bullet proof, but easily tuneable.

anonymous-user

57 months

Thursday 2nd February 2023
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Given you’re Yorkshire based, why not head over to Harewood and do some hillclimbs for a year or so. You can be competitive in a road legal car and it’s not expensive. I’d look for a clip 182, build it up to the 750MC regs but run it in modified production albeit on 1c tyres (rather than slicks).

That way you’re not up and down the country each week and when time and funds allow, you have a pukka race car eligible plenty of series from CSCC, track attack, 750MC etc etc

drmotorsport

778 posts

246 months

Friday 3rd February 2023
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Grant.C said:
drmotorsport said:
My 2p: While keeping a basic race car road legal is quite straightforward, it is a miserable experience driving a car on rock hard springs on the road. also seat harnesses can be a minefield with E ratings and MOT/construction and use legalities. You absolutely need a trailer because at some point the car will definitely be broken/crashed and you will need a decent selection of tools, spare wheels, fuel and race clobber with you. AA/RAC etc take a dim view of recovering cars from even outside race circuits these days.
Thanks, yes I'm also in IT. So would you need to keep a seatbelt for it to be road legal, or can you just use a harness assuming you can find one to please all the authorities?

The trouble is it's not so much a choice between getting a trailer and driving to the track, but between driving to the track and not going. I've got nowhere to put a trailer (or any way to tow one, at present). Maybe down the line that will change. I doubt I'd be doing a whole season so I'd go for the tracks nearer me to make things a little easier (Croft/Cadewll/Oulton/etc.)

I wasn't thinking to get the AA to tow me home, just paying a recovery service if & when needed.

Fitting all the gear in the car could be a challenge for sure. Maybe I need to find a series racing estates..
I guess you could keep the OEM seatbelt in as well as harness subject to pretensioner/airbag lights not going off. However i doubt a regular 3 point seatbelt would fit correctly around the wing on a modern race seat. IIRC you need an E marked race harness to be road legal - surely the rally boys have found a solution for that side.

I originally kept my cars and trailer small enough to fit in a single garage with the car sat on the trainer inside away away from prying eyes. I now store the trailer on a caravan storage site nearby as it's outgrown the garage.

If you're racing alone with no support that can have your kit in their car/van, then you need to keep it in your tow vehicle - leaving stuff lying around in the paddock all day and in all weathers is not a solution!

Mr MXT

7,696 posts

286 months

Friday 3rd February 2023
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Grant.C said:
Thanks, yes I'm also in IT. So would you need to keep a seatbelt for it to be road legal, or can you just use a harness assuming you can find one to please all the authorities?

The trouble is it's not so much a choice between getting a trailer and driving to the track, but between driving to the track and not going. I've got nowhere to put a trailer (or any way to tow one, at present). Maybe down the line that will change. I doubt I'd be doing a whole season so I'd go for the tracks nearer me to make things a little easier (Croft/Cadewll/Oulton/etc.)

I wasn't thinking to get the AA to tow me home, just paying a recovery service if & when needed.

Fitting all the gear in the car could be a challenge for sure. Maybe I need to find a series racing estates..
My previous trailer lived in the garage, but then I replaced it with something larger which doesn't fit. That one lives at a caravan storage site which is £400 a year - quite reasonable in the motorsport scheme of things for secure parking.

If you can resolve the tow car issue (didn't they just change the rules to make it more accessible?) then trailering is definitely the way to go!

ETA - I hadnt read Dr Motorsports reply before i posted smile

Grant.C

Original Poster:

45 posts

27 months

Friday 3rd February 2023
quotequote all
pablo said:
Given you’re Yorkshire based, why not head over to Harewood and do some hillclimbs for a year or so. You can be competitive in a road legal car and it’s not expensive. I’d look for a clip 182, build it up to the 750MC regs but run it in modified production albeit on 1c tyres (rather than slicks).

That way you’re not up and down the country each week and when time and funds allow, you have a pukka race car eligible plenty of series from CSCC, track attack, 750MC etc etc
That's more or less my plan - yes Harewood's where I'd go for hill climbs, mixed with track days (so I can learn the tracks I'll hopefully be racing on). I'm not planning on really getting into hill climbing though, I don't expect to be competitive or anything.

A Clio would be good, they seem pretty pricey though, like £5k+ for a 182 - turns out you can get a 206 GTi race car for that!

Grant.C

Original Poster:

45 posts

27 months

Friday 3rd February 2023
quotequote all
LennyM1984 said:
I'm not sure what your budget is but have you considered a Ginetta G40 GRDC/Cup? I picked one up for £12k.

ETA: I've recently bought a trailer (I was renting them before) and will be storing Car + Trailer together for £120 a month (we already have too many cars on the drive and my dad was moaning about me taking over his garage space).
That does sounds pretty good value, about the same as most of the 116/MX-5 race cars I've seen. Unfortunately I don't have £12k though.

Car storage is something to consider, if I could find something close by it would give me more options. I think it would use too much of the already limited budget though.

df76

3,715 posts

281 months

Friday 3rd February 2023
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Grant.C said:
df76 said:
I’ve done something similar with my Civic EP3 build. Everything I’ve done is working towards it being a race car. A front cage, extinguisher and cut off and it would be there.
Cool. Do you still intend to race it? Do you know what series you could go in?

df76 said:
However, it will be massively more expensive than buying a prepped car.. and it really depends on where you live. A race car on the road is horrible and you don’t always want to be worried about breaking down and not making it home.
Yeah getting home is a concern, but I figure I'll work out the options of getting it towed before I head out, and if it happens once or twice it shouldn't break the bank.

What makes you say building is more expensive? I've only been looking at 116s, but people reckon the build costs £8k or so whereas all the prepared cars I've seen are £12k+. I'll need to get the spreadsheet out before I make any rash decisions.
The Civic wouldn’t be competitive in anything as it currently is, but could be on the Castle Combe (less than an hour away) Hot Hatch grid and not come last. Could also run with the 750MC or CSCC, and there are several other potential series. Friend ran his Clio at Combe for a few seasons, and that’s what he drove to the track (only a 30min trip). Civic would need much stiffer suspension set up and diff for pure circuit use and that would be nasty on the road, but at the moment it’s well set up for hillclimbing. I’ve got a build thread under Readers Cars. https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&...

Building your own car will always be more expensive as you will have to pay for other people’s time, and there’s always small unknown jobs that will eat a budget. Unless you own your own garage business of course.. But, I’ve always considered it a project to keep me busy over a few years, so don’t mind slowly developing the car and paying over a longer period. I’ve enjoyed it.

I run both a six point harness and the road belts still in the Civic. You could also use the Schroth belts which are both FIA and E approved.

Grant.C

Original Poster:

45 posts

27 months

Friday 3rd February 2023
quotequote all
drmotorsport said:
I guess you could keep the OEM seatbelt in as well as harness subject to pretensioner/airbag lights not going off. However i doubt a regular 3 point seatbelt would fit correctly around the wing on a modern race seat. IIRC you need an E marked race harness to be road legal - surely the rally boys have found a solution for that side.
Yeah I've been having a look at harnesses and general race car MOTs. It seems like harnesses need to meet a BS standard to pass the MOT, and 'E' mark to be road legal, so should be OK if you can find the right one.

General MOT seems more up to the tester, there are clauses which allow for standard equipment (airbags etc.) to be removed in some cases with the example of rally cars driving between stages being given. It seems race cars probably come under this but it's not black and white. Some people seem to make it work though, including our man in the Fiesta.

MOT time with a Rally Car/Race Car/RallyRep etc?
Racing harnesses for road?
MOT Requirements for Seatbelts and Harnesses