newbie - Tin tops?

newbie - Tin tops?

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Discussion

skils81

Original Poster:

4 posts

1 month

Thursday 21st November
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Hi,

Looking at getting into racing and doing my ARDS early next year. Before I do that I will do a couple of track days to get used to track driving. Planning then to get into Tin Tops Series when I have my license due to the low cost etc.

A couple of questions as a newbie.

I dont have a car yet, and if I do a track day i will need to hire one. Which from what I have seen is around £800.

Do I just bite the bullet and buy a car now to use for the track days? If so any recommendations on what race car to get?

Also, my uncle is a race car engineer so could do a race conversion from a road car (if I ask him nicely!). Would that be a good option? If so, what car would be best to buy as a road version to convert. I have seen that Clio's and Civics might be good. But should I stick to the smaller engines to begin with, and if so what are good models and variants to go for/?
Its a minefield of options! :-)

MyVTECGoesBwaaah

708 posts

90 months

Thursday 21st November
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I think most circuits are still running a lot of track days on weekends so you could go down to your local circuit and have a look around, see what people are using, have a chat to others and you will likely be able to have a few passenger laps in something (Normally about £10, can hire helmets there if you don't have one). This would give some idea what car you may want to use, there's always loads of Civics and Clios about to see which are popular for a reason.

As for driving, do you have a road car currently that you could use to get a taste for it initially? £800 seems a fair chunk to drop just to try things. Once you've got your sights on what car you'd like it is almost always cheaper to buy a ready prepared car (Good time of year for it as the racing season has finished!) than prepare your own. It makes more sense to be doing track days in whatever it is you'd like to race, get some seat time in.

Just make sure to go in with eyes open, even track days are expensive and racing is definitely a step above! I say this as someone just doing a track days, others on here will have more input I'm sure. smile

CanoeSniffer

668 posts

35 months

Thursday 21st November
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The best advice I was given was buy, don’t build. All the effort and money of building a car doesn’t recoup in its residual value. Also, if you’re anything like me, once you buy a well built car, you’ll find dozens of canny little mods and tricks that you wouldn’t have thought of doing yourself. I’m glad I bought an established car, and only after knowing it inside out would I feel competent to have a go at putting my own together- if I’d built my own initially it wouldn’t have been half the car. (Of course this applies only if, like me, you’ve had no prior experience putting fast cars together).

Also, try not to get cornered into tin tops- unless you’re running a big budget you’ll find it frustrating how much others are spending to put together fast cars in what should be cheap accessible motorsport. There’s also a bit of a demo derby vibe around a lot of series. Your experience will vary depending which club you race with, that’s just my take. There’s a lot of niche series around with surprisingly low barriers to entry, depending on your taste (eg MR2s, RX8s, BMW compact cup, Alfa Romeos). I only say this as I was blinkered into believing I could only afford to run a tin tops series at first, but after doing a little research I found the JEC series which is all blokes in sheds, not an ego or sore loser in sight (also last out of the pub most weekends). I bought a 300hp straight six Jag that goes sideways everywhere, which was just my cup of tea. An ex-Championship winning car screwed together well, on the class podium every race finish so far, and I couldn’t have got a competitive Clio or Civic for what I paid. If you’re dead set on tin tops then ignore the above- but just be aware there’s a lot more out there! And unless you’re racing with the right club I wouldn’t expect to be at the sharp end on a modest budget.

Edit: having re-read the OP, if your uncle is on board and you’re both confident then you could have a go at building a car- as for engine size, you’ll want to decide on your series first and find cars you think will fit well into that class structure- download the regulations and give them a thorough read before turning a spanner.

Edited by CanoeSniffer on Thursday 21st November 18:55

ribiero

432 posts

114 months

Thursday 21st November
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CanoeSniffer said:
and I couldn’t have got a competitive Clio or Civic for what I paid.[/footnote]
I paid less for My Clio than you did your Jag Mike wink

andy97

3,669 posts

170 months

Thursday 21st November
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Where in the UK are you based?

For ARDS licence and even track day tuition (inc car hire if required) speak to Mel and Pete Edwards at “The Motorsports School”. They are based at Mallory Park but also do tuition all over. They are very helpful.

skils81

Original Poster:

4 posts

1 month

Thursday 21st November
quotequote all
andy97 said:
Where in the UK are you based?

For ARDS licence and even track day tuition (inc car hire if required) speak to Mel and Pete Edwards at “The Motorsports School”. They are based at Mallory Park but also do tuition all over. They are very helpful.
I live in Berkshire. Nearest tracks are thruxton, castle Coombe

CanoeSniffer

668 posts

35 months

Friday 22nd November
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ribiero said:
CanoeSniffer said:
and I couldn’t have got a competitive Clio or Civic for what I paid.[/footnote]
I paid less for My Clio than you did your Jag Mike wink
Exceptions do apply hehe

I can only speak from my personal experience, the only reasonable Clio on the market when I was looking for sub ~£5k was a Williams replica with no certs and an engine swap that excluded it from most series. Notwithstanding looking in the right places etc.

I’m heavily biased as I can’t drive a FWD car fast to save my life, but I was aghast at the going rates for Fiestas, Clios, Civics, all the popular tin tops seem to command strong money for well built cars- though I did nearly find myself in an MGZR for reasonable money, and the 206 and Puma series seem to have avoided popularity tax so far. You may feel I’m talking total cobblers, as you’re well entitled to! I won’t pretend to have fully researched every tin top club and series, I heard how much money was flying round a couple of series and that was enough to convince me to go a different route- man maths at play really, how do I justify getting into something torquey and RWD to make up for my deficiencies as a driver hehe

I think the point I’m trying to stress to the OP is not to feel rabbit-holed, coming into it as a newbie it took me a while to realise that you could run anything other than a tin top on a modest budget. Are you still running with the CSCC? You ought to come give us a wave at Snetterton! We have brew kit and a beer fridge thumbup

andy97

3,669 posts

170 months

Friday 22nd November
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Moderators, No idea why this has been moved to the track day forum. The OP clearly states he wants to get in to racing, and is looking at TDs as a step on the way to achieving that.

skils81 said:
I live in Berkshire. Nearest tracks are thruxton, castle Coombe
Ok, both have race schools, I think, but i do highly recommend The Motorsport School for your test and they can provide instruction wherever you are.

On the subject of cars, as said, it is almost always cheaper to buy one already prepared, and you will bevon track gaining experience far sooner!

I have driven tin tops and cheaper rwd cars but don't discount things like Caterham 7s. I dont know what your budget is but you can buy a Caterham Graduate car for £10k, via the Caterham Graduates Club website; i did and wished i had done years ago. Not only are they awesome cars to drive, but they are probably the cheapest cars to run that i have ever had. Light therefore cheap on petrol, tyres, brakes etc. Easy to push around a paddock; smaller/ cheaper trailer required; smaller / cheaper tow car required and cheaper on tow car fuel. Parts are easily available. Easy to work on. Plenty of people to ask advice from etc!!!

I really recommend the CSCC Magnificent 7s series for great track time and value and good driving standards.
If 10k is over budget, consider a Westfield or any other race prepared 7esque car.
Feel free to PM me if you want to chat.
Andy

andrewcliffe

513 posts

172 months

Friday 22nd November
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If you know you're going to go racing, I'd look at buying your racing car now as each track day car you hire is money you won't get back.

So.

Decide which series you want to go racing in.

Read the regulations

Decide which car may be most suitable

Find a car, either already race prepared or prepare one yourself. Its often cheaper to buy one that is already race prepared but check its condition. You'll probably take it apart and put it back together again anyway.

Do trackdays in it

and when your're ready, step up to racing.

andrewcliffe

513 posts

172 months

Friday 22nd November
quotequote all
Clubs - each race organising club - MSVR, 750MC, BRSCC, CSCC etc., will probably have a series that is suitable.

If you read the regulations for each series you could end up with a car that is eligible for half a dozen different series and championships, giving you the opporunity to dip in and out of each until you find the one you like best, and then could develop the car further to their regulations.


skils81

Original Poster:

4 posts

1 month

Friday 22nd November
quotequote all
Thanks all, some really good advice. I had a chat to a lovely lady at The Motor Sports School. Sounded like a great place to start and get my ARDS, and then decide on a series, buy a race car and do some track days before doing some racing! :-)

Can't wait!

RobertQ

3 posts

12 months

Friday 22nd November
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I was in the same position as you this time last year. Bought a Clio and had a fantastic time this season getting to know the circuits and the car. I went for a Clio as it’s eligible for multiple series, cheap* to get spares for and easy to modify (as long as you don’t want to chase high NA power numbers)

Best decision I’ve made in ages, it’s like a drug and easy to get addicted!

  • *relative concept. Motorsport is not cheap


df76

2,006 posts

226 months

Saturday 23rd November
quotequote all
skils81 said:
Thanks all, some really good advice. I had a chat to a lovely lady at The Motor Sports School. Sounded like a great place to start and get my ARDS, and then decide on a series, buy a race car and do some track days before doing some racing! :-)

Can't wait!
Given your location, you may want to look at the Castle Combe Racing Club series, a good option for a new starter. Also, look at every saloon series that you can and buy a car that can be used in multiple series.

You definitely need plenty of track time before thinking about it though.

HustleRussell

17,140 posts

108 months

Saturday 23rd November
quotequote all
df76 said:
Given your location, you may want to look at the Castle Combe Racing Club series, a good option for a new starter. Also, look at every saloon series that you can and buy a car that can be used in multiple series.

You definitely need plenty of track time before thinking about it though.
I had a go in my Dad’s Caterham. This resulted in me buying my own- in which I did maybe three track days before entering my first race.

Caterhams are the best option out there I reckon- they’re not the cheapest but they’re close, they’re very effective racing cars out of the box and provided you buy a 10+ year old example you’ll always sell it for what you paid as they have basically stopped depreciating by then.

cookracing

151 posts

94 months

Sunday 1st December
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Hi Skils. It all depends what you want. For me I didn't care, I just wanted to go racing (a complete story from the start is at http://cookracing.co.uk if it helps).

A good tip from CanoeSniffer is buy don't build - BUT.... I couldn't have possibly gone down that route. I drip fed money instead by buying off the road. It's more expensive and less track proven but you learn a hell of a lot about the car that way.

I'd also make use of your uncle - ask if he'll support you and help with the car bits at the track (tyre pressures, remembering to fuel it between sessions, help with setup changes etc) - it leavers you to concentrate and get your head in the game. Very important especially at the start when it's all new and a million things to take in.

As for what series, I'd suggest make contact with a few and go down to their meetings, see what feels right for you. The drivers will chat (well some of them will) for a short period about their experiences, the cars, the club (take everything with a pinch of salt though). It's a big investment time and money welding yourself to a particular series through the car choice, so worth doing to make sure it's the right fit for you.

Good luck!

Also, search cookracinguk on youtube I have some videos on ARDS smile

Seb27

74 posts

141 months

Monday 2nd December
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It sounds as if you want to be getting some decent track experience and then build up to racing, so you can either buy a ready built race car (examples above) or you can build one yourself.

If you build one yourself, you will learn more about your car and this will help you when racing, especially if you are planning on running the car yourself. I run my MX5 race car with my dad, and the knowledge we learned building the car helps massively when you need to carry out some maintenance during a race weekend. If you are planning on running with a team (most single make championships have a number of teams which run peoples race cars - you basically either pay a team to look after your car, or pay a team and rent the car off them - I can point you in the direction of people to speak to if MX5s are of interest to you).

Building and running the car yourself is the harder option as it takes longer to develop the car and your driving, but is ultimately very rewarding as you see the car you turned from an MOT failure into a proper race car punching up the grid mixing with the front runners at Silverstone, for example.

Before you buy your race car to be (if self building), make sure you are buying the right base car, there are lots of variations of some cars which aren't eligible for example, have a chat with the series organiser and make sure you don't end up spending more money than you have to by not doing the right research.

Edited by Seb27 on Monday 2nd December 14:29