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  #1  
Old 05-31-2007
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Starting Out in Racing

Well I have finished my 3 day a few months back at Road America and I am hooked. I am hopefully attending the a 2 day coming up. I was wondering though what is a competitive way to stay up with racing. I know we have the race series through Skip but are there other series that are not as expensive? I know racing is expensive though. I am reading up into karting but that can only give so much. Let me know what you guys think.

Thanks guys
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Old 05-31-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Here's my 2 cents (now worth 4 cents since I just upped to Champ ) (thanks, Doug ):

I was where you are about 18 months ago, starting from scratch. following my first Skip race event, I too wanted to find out what the options were. I went to Jim Russell for karts, Derek Daly for Z3s, mid-Ohio for Acuras, Team O'Neil for rally cars, ran 4 SCCA spec miata events and 8 Panoz GT events. karts were ok but not the thrill that I wanted, and I didn't fancy cracking my ribs or getting dumped on my head, rally cars didn't do it for me, Derek D. was a waste of time. I had a lot of fun with the 325hp Panoz cars and the instruction was comparable to Skippy, but they're more expensive and less reliable. The only thing comparable in cost, as much fun to drive, and that I learned substantially from was spec miata-- but then you have to shell out extra for a private coach, and if your car dies or crashes, so does your day on the track. For my money, Skippy is the best value by far in the racing universe, especially for someone trying to learn this sport. World class instruction, equal and pretty reliable cars, limited crash damage, the best tracks, the most personable, friendly, knowlegeable and helpful fellow drivers anywhere (I learn as much from other Skip drivers as I do the instructors-- a lot of good drivers in other series don't want to share their knowledge)-- as they say back home in Carolina, ya cain't beat it with a stick!

Racing is expensive, period. Skip is the best. You'll see.

P.S. you could go up to Canada to the Bridgestone Academy, which is pretty reasonable, but the Canadian-US dollar differential ain't what it used to be.
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Old 06-01-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

This will probably be no help at all, but back in the seventies everyone I asked said that Formula Vee was the cheapest form of racing.

What they didn't tell me was there is no cheap form of racing.

Biased I may be, but looking back on finding and buying the car, fixing all the things the previous owner lied about - including rebuilding the engine - buying new tires and something to tow with, waiting for a race school -the choices back then were SCCA and EMRA with 2 or three schools per year each - and then waiting for a race within towing distance and comparing that with where you are at now with your three day done and ready to climb into a car equal to everyone else's and spend two days racing and being coached all the way through for about 4K I would think the choice is clear.

There, not only did you get my two cents, but you may have just read the longest run-on sentence in TJ history. Do a race week-end and come back and tell us how cool it was. Best of luck to ya.
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Old 06-01-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldredracer
you may have just read the longest run-on sentence in TJ history.
RedRacer:

If Pat's Crushing Word Count and your facility with predicates and conjunctions ever got together, we would be in for it...
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Old 06-01-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Skippy is going to be very, very expensive. Though I know there will be responses saying its the best buy for your dollars, not necessarly. You can rent a Spec Miata, SRF, or some other models far less expensive than Skippy. But sure if you frame a rental there is usually not another to jump into, welcome to racing. Crash damage, parts for a Miata is lot less expensive than a forty-year old RT, a real money maker for Skippy. But, if you have an unlimited budget, Skippy is a great way to race, and yes, the instructors are great.
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Well they say you have to pay to play. Thanks for the input. I need to talk to people around. I am doing the advanced 2 day in july so we will see.
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

The question is: do you want a car that will run at the front, or at the back? If you're going to actually race (rather than just drive around), you're going to have to pay for a decent car. Here are the actual numbers from my rental of a competitive spec miata for an SCCA event at Road Atlanta in August 2006 (the car finished 6th in a National race in more skilled hands). In this case the car owner was a good coach and had in-car video and radio. I shared the car with a friend for the weekend (Fri practice, Sat qualis and 45 min sprint race, Sun 1.5 hr enduro), but I'm giving total numbers, which would apply if you were renting it for yourself.

Rental for the 3 days: $3,249.

I did well in the sprint, finishing 23rd out of 60-some cars at a point where I was still pretty green.

but, it doesn't stop there. My friend kept accidently downshifting from 5th directly to 2nd (3 times, anyway) creating massive overrevs as you can imagine. But he finished the first stint of the enduro without other incident. 8 laps into my stint, I missed the apex of 1 and understeered off the track to the left. Normally, this may not have been a huge problem since the car was pointed in the right direction, but it had rained overnight and the grass was wet-- SM, meet tire wall at 70+ mph. So pleased to make your acquaintance. Good call buying that Hans the week before. I limped it back to the pits, but the steering was horrible and the day was over.

Bodywork, frame straightening, transport, fenders, door, blah, blah: $5329. I got lucky. If it had cost $10 grand, I would have had to pay it.
Engine and transmission overhaul: $1200.

Yes, it was the weekend from hell, but this could happen to a beginning driver (obviously, it did). Remember, there is no liability cap out there in Real Racing Land, and you have to pay for engine and transmission abuse and often for flat-spotting tires, none of which you are liable for with Skip (please, Todd, don't read this). And rentals from competitive outfits like OPM and BSI are similar.

Just so you know what you're getting into. Skip is a no-brainer.
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Slowhands, you may want to re-read the Skippy crash damage rules regarding liablity. If you frame a Skippy car it is going to cost you a minimum of $4500, and that cap continues to increase with each weekend. Have a "weekend from hell" in Skippyland and you could easily spend $8-10K, just on crash damage. And, oh yes, if you blowup a Skippy engine you will pay for it. The flat-spotted tires are a freebie....maybe.
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Bobblehead--

Don't get me wrong-- I'm not saying Skip is cheap by any means. I'm just saying I like having a limited downside at this stage of my development where it sometimes seems to be easier to perform a complex series of actions such as those described in "Kasey's Helicopter Flying Made Easy: How to Fly the Glen" than the correct line through the corner. And then, when you throw in the credentials and passion of the instructors, equal cars, and no significant loss of track time if your car breaks or crashes (at mid-Ohio I lost a whole Sunday of SM racing because of a big fuel leak-- did I get my money back?), I don't think there is a better way to get fast or a better overall value. I could see myself pounding out laps in SCCA or NASA reinforcing bad habits, which then take a long time to unlearn, and you end up paying for it in the long run as the rate of actual progress becomes much slower. Yes, racing is always fun, and if the experience of being in a race car in a big field is the main goal, then there are probably less expensive ways of doing it than Skippy. But if your goal is to get to the front of the grid as quickly and hassle-free as possible, and you don't have Andretti DNA (even Marco chose Skip), I just don't see anything close to Skippy for the money.

But that's just my opinion.

p.s. couldn't help but notice the time of your post-- big night out? Or do you get even less sleep than me?

p.p.s. the $4500 is a MAXIMUM for the first event, not a minimum. Certainly, if you keep crashing, it goes up (as it should), but in increments, and it's still a maximum per event. And it goes back to $4500 the next season if you drive clean (personal experience.). Pretty user-friendly, IMO. When I did a Corvette rental, I was on the hook for $50,000, first event.
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Last edited by Slowhands; 06-02-2007 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Just to be accurate, Skippy also offers a reduced crash damage liability for your first two race weekends, which I believe is $3,000.

Secondly, there is no engine over-rev liability. You can blow-up as many engines as you want! (They may soon not have enough to give you another one, but that's something else entirely)

Same thing with tires. Flat-spot'em, blow'em up, eat them, it doesn't matter. You don't pay for them.
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

There is also the intangible aspect of camaraderie and socializing that accompanies a SB race weekend that is much harder to find in other series. I have not raced in other series but crewed quite a bit for SCCA weekend warriors and I never saw anything like this aspect of the SB experience there.

How about it? Those who have raced in Star Mazda, SCCA, FBMW, Grand-Am Cup, etc. Can you compare those series to SB in this regard?

SB is the best bang for the buck, add in the race chatter, feedback, damage liability cap and FUN, you can't beat it.

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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

If you chronically flat spot tires they can make you pay for them by making you run on them. Certain tracks (like Sebring) are prone to big time newbie tire cookers (I was king of the flatspotters my first race weekend there) so if you are regularly grenading your tires they'll just make you run those flapjacks for a couple of sessions and you'd be amazed how the scorn from the person you're sharing the car with, along with your own shame at the regular brush fire's emerging from your fronts, will accelerate your learning curve.

As a way of expressing how confident they were in the rev limiters on the Dodge motors, Bruce MacInnes used to say you'd win $10,000 if you could blow up a motor. I suppose you could over-rev one with a series of misplaced downshifts but in my experience those motors have been one of the more reliable components in the cars.

One angle no one has touched on beyond the advantage of limited liability when you crash with Skippy, is what you learn when you crash with Skippy. In many cases when you crash (especially as a newbie) what you think happened may not be in perfect alignment with what actually did happen. The instructors and other racers will help you fully understand what happened so you learn from your mistake rather than repeat it.
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalyduo
If you chronically flat spot tires they can make you pay for them by making you run on them....so if you are regularly grenading your tires they'll just make you run those flapjacks for a couple of sessions...
DD - Flapjacks!!!

We might want to reconsider use of this avatar

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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

The more and more I read it does seem Skippy is a great option. I think I need to find a new job first. Anyways guys I appreceate the advice. I am looking into Karting but that seems to be just as expensive and in my own opinion you can only get so much from a kart vs a skippy car. How much are the race weekends by the way? Last time I was at the 3 day they offered a 200 dollar deposit with a 20 percent discount. It seems that the race weekends are not that bad for what you do get to do.
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

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Originally Posted by CobraZb
How much are the race weekends by the way?
Depends on what you mean by a race weekend. A race weekend consisting of a qualifying session and two races costs $2,695

A practice day consisting of two timed practice sessions with unlimited passing costs $1,195

A lapping day consisting of two untimed lapping sessions with limited passing is $1,095

For those with many years of experience or demanding work schedules a single practice day and race weekend may be enough. I've never done a race weekend with less than one lapping day and one practice day because I don't run a full season and need the extra seat time to get up to speed. My race weekends usually cost about 5K (before travel expenses and crash damage :-)
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

"How about it? Those who have raced in Star Mazda, SCCA, FBMW, Grand-Am Cup, etc. Can you compare those series to SB in this regard?"

You can go faster and certainly spend more money but NEVER will you have more fun than the days at Skippy! Problem many face is they don't stay around long enough to learn this. Too many preconceived notions about how it will be?


Seriously to the new guys, go and watch a weekend of whatever series you are considering. It cost thousands $$ less to watch and you will see for yourself.

Thanks to all those racers that give Skippy it character!
JP
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Pace
"How about it? Those who have raced in Star Mazda, SCCA, FBMW, Grand-Am Cup, etc. Can you compare those series to SB in this regard?"

You can go faster and certainly spend more money but NEVER will you have more fun than the days at Skippy! Problem many face is they don't stay around long enough to learn this. Too many preconceived notions about how it will be?

Seriously to the new guys, go and watch a weekend of whatever series you are considering. It cost thousands $$ less to watch and you will see for yourself.

Thanks to all those racers that give Skippy it character!
JP
Hey JP, well put. You're no stranger to other racing venues though, what say you? Is there similar camaraderie and socializing elsewhere?
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

I put a pen and paper to it.....SB is the best value. Not only is it a good value, but the people at the track are a whole lot of fun. I have progressed faster than i would have on my own. I could go buy a truck, a trailer and a race car, and i would have equity. However i don't doubt for a second i am currently money ahead racing with SB. There is a lot of free experience available at the track with SB. I could never get as much experience as JP has. It just isn't possible. Another bonus is that SB race weekends are a great place to meet people in motorsports. You can learn all about driver development programs, or race teams who rent rides in GA, Star Mazda etc. Since the SB people do racing stuff everyday they will know more about it than the average guy/gal. I was surprised to learn how many SB racers, instructors etc are involved in other kinds of motorsports. It is kind of a melting pot of racing. It is the best place to be for a person who would like to either race on the weekends and make some racing friends, or someone who wants to make a career out of it. Since starting my SB adventure about a year ago, i am always amazed how many people who are involved with SB through racing or instructing also race in other series. I like the RT the new wing made it more fun. And they are super good about making up lost time with mechanical problems. You can also spend all day in the car if you like. I always try to.
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
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I put a pen and paper to it..... I could go buy a truck, a trailer and a race car, and i would have equity. However i don't doubt for a second i am currently money ahead racing with SB....
Ditto. I was at Elkhart Lake the week before the vintage races several years ago, stopped by the track when I saw the gate was open, where I ran into Terry Earwood who allowed me to sit in on a classroom session. Later ran into Terry and Stevie D at Siebkins where the hook was set. Later I went to a 3-day at VIR and a 2 day at Laguna to get credentials to vintage race the XK-120, but found I loved the formula cars and the SBR experience (thanks Keith W!) and stuck around. If I were to race the Jag I would be on the hook for the full value in case of collision damage, then there's the tire bill @ $350 each, $10,000- $20,000 for a mid-pack vintage Jag race motor, spare gearboxes and diffs, tow truck, trailer, PLUS where is all of the spare time coming from to do the regular maintenance a race car requires?

This is a sweet deal. I like it. Racing has never been tennis. It costs more than two fuzzy balls. When it was chariots, you still had to feed four horses everyday.
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Old 06-02-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Craig,
I certainly agree with your value package at Skip Barber especially when getting started.
Doug,
Everyone says they have the best group of racing friends but so few have been anywhere but ...fill in the blank w/ a club. I have attended all the various club events I can think of to help guys improve their driving. Truth is there are a few nice car people everywhere.

But Skippy has been about racing. Not the prettiest cars, not the most modern not the sexiest in any way. Skippy is about DRIVING a racecar well. It is not easy. It does not matter the chassis or the engine just line up equal cars and go racing with minimal hassle in tech, registration, and the actual participation in the event. "Help me live my dream!"

It still amazes me that some clubs have everyone wait in line an hour or so to sign in each week, when most competitiors could do it online off a Blackberry while waiting. It is sort of a custom in some clubs. Bring your folding chair to registration and visit in the line. Skippy guys go nuts over this waste.

People of the convenient "race equal car" mindset gravitate and remain around Skip Barber Racing. That same group of racers and instructors keeps you honest in regards to crash damage and ability through sharing cars.

The learning curve is steeper than any form of racing I know as evidenced by so many of the guys on TJR that have made such progress through hard work. IF you made that progress on your own it would takes many years, but with focus, determination
and GOOD INSTRUCTION you truly race to the front.

That genuine comraderie has always been one of the best values at Skip and the relationships forged endure well past anyones driving career. The freinds you make are there for many many years.

Thanks again to all those that have helped make it so!
JP
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Old 06-03-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Well all in all it is all about "living a dream" and it does seem like the guys on this board are great people. Jim was actually my instructor at Road America last September. I appreciate all the input from you guys and I hope to be seeing you all frequently at the track.
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Old 06-04-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

I just have to jump in to this thread.

I have had my eye on SB for years. Did the 3 day basic class 4 years ago and the 2 day advanced class 3 years ago. I could not afford to run the series. So, I bought a kart and went racing to try and help lessen the steep learning curve. Karting is great. After the purchase of the kart ($2,500 for Yam heavy, $5,500 for shifter), running it is cheap. $200 for the weekend. With lots of seat time. The people are great. One guy helped me rebuild my clutch for 2 hours to make the race! It is very time consuming. I would take time 2 nights a week to get ready for the weekend. I would leave my house at 4 am on Sat and get home at 9pm on Sunday.

It is a great way to learn. My crash damage was limited to a couple of hundred bucks (and 4 broken ribs twice). And you could get a LOT of seat time. At practice, you could ride until you puked or passed out.

That being said, there is no comparison to SB. It is not cheap. But it is a good value. You can go cheaper by up fronting the money for your own car. But then you have to transport it, work on it, bla bla bla.

I gave up food to pay for my series this summer. Besides the weight reductions saves me 1/4 second each lap.

Enough blowing sunshine up SB's butt. If you enjoy motorsports, you will enjoy where ever you go. Hope to see you at SB just as long as it is behind me

Marc

PS. I still have a kart for sale.
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Old 06-04-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duc998M
I gave up food to pay for my series this summer. Besides the weight reductions saves me 1/4 second each lap.
food is overrated

racing vs. food = nobrainer (also, racing vs. sleep, racing vs. sex, racing vs. work, etc etc etc)

in addition to quicker lap times, restricted caloric intake is the only scientifically proven method of extending longevity in every species its been tested in

food for thought
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Old 06-04-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
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...I gave up food to pay for my series this summer. Besides the weight reductions saves me 1/4 second each lap.
Ditto that. At the 3 day school I did, I would be nose-to-gearbox with the youngsters coming out of Oaktree, but 30 yards back by T1 (and this was just the short, 1-5/8 mi, South Course) The difference? Youngster weighed 150 lbs and I weighed 220. Down to 190 now.
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Old 06-04-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Weight equals horsepower.
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Old 06-04-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slowhands
food is overrated

racing vs. food = nobrainer (also, racing vs. sleep, racing vs. sex, racing vs. work, etc etc etc)

Racing vs, Sleep and work yeah, but sex? I am 24, that is all I think about besides racing...

So how about racing while having sex?
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Old 06-05-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Note to self... When passing Brian always make sure he has both hands on the wheel...

Quote:
Originally Posted by CobraZb
Racing vs, Sleep and work yeah, but sex? I am 24, that is all I think about besides racing...

So how about racing while having sex?
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Old 06-05-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

If you decide to go Skippy, I would recommend the Advanced Car Control Clinic plus lapping day option over the advanced two-day school. It will develop your driving more. If you decide to do the two-day school, however, make sure to do it at a different track from your three-day.
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Old 06-05-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalyduo
Note to self... When passing Brian always make sure he has both hands on the wheel...



...either that or time it just right.


No hamster jokes, pleeez. The poor critters have been through enough.
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Old 06-05-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalyduo
Note to self... When passing Brian always make sure he has both hands on the wheel...
DD, all you have to do now is exploit his youthful fatal flaw!

Tape a copy of this on the back of your car's Hamster Device and the kids will follow you around all day:

http://www.teamjuicyracing.com/forum...hp?i=1876&c=30
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Old 06-05-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

I thought I would weigh in on this for a moment. After the weekend at the Glen, an friend of mine (who races an MGA in the SCCA) wanted to know all about it.
He has spent a small pile of money on this project. As he added it up to around $100,000 for car, repairs, trailering, crash damage, etc.
Each time I go to see him race there seems to be another expence to be added in. They also throw him in some classes where he has no one to race with or he spends all of his time racing his mirrors.
I don't want to sound like a Skippy advertisment, but the simple ease of arriving; being given an equal car, NOT spending all that time fixing and fidgeting on the car, driving with other equal cars and drivers, and swapping stories with other drivers cannot be easier. As an added bonus; I asked some of the other drivers for advice and received REAL advice, not some BS.
Of course racing is expensive or I would do it every weekend. But for me, the minimum hassle, competitive atmosphere, new friends, and great feedback make a Skippy weekend low stress indeed.
Oh, but you still have to control the same emotions that always are there in any racing weekend.
Remember, Slow Hands: tight sphinkter.
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Old 06-05-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Rosso & George - good idea - good info
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Old 06-05-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by GEORGE
I thought I would weigh in on this for a moment. After the weekend at the Glen, an friend of mine (who races an MGA in the SCCA) wanted to know all about it.
He has spent a small pile of money on this project. As he added it up to around $100,000 for car, repairs, trailering, crash damage, etc.
I rode up to Indy for the 500 last weekend in the same car with a guy who races SCCA FV, which I always thought should be about the cheapest way to road race there could be, outside of karts. Said he lost a motor 3 weeks ago - cost to replace - $9,000.
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Old 06-05-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Skip Barber is about as good as it gets. I have met the finest of friends and competitors and enjoyed nearly every minute of the experience ( with the exception of the crashes). My son and I were talking about it sometime back and we both view our time with the guys racing, dining, drinking (well, not him, just me) , and abusing rental cars, as the most memorable of life. There are truly places in life you can only go in a race car,,,,,,,,,,,or a rental car !! Skip Barber has been the best "country club" one could join. It's about a lot more than what goes on at the track, but it begins with pushing oneself with the finest of coaching.... I cannot believe how my life has been enriched by the Skip experience and I will forever be grateful.....I don't regret a dollar I've spent on Skip...............well, there is that 21,000.00$ weekend at Laguna when John went end over end, and the wreck that we paid for Benny Moon crashing (tommy fogarty will remember)..........but there is also the crash when my favorite instructor said,,,,,,,,,,"if you think you caused more damage don't ask questions, just sign right here".................i have no idea how that bent frame with no body work and absent all four corners turned out to be a bent wing,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and even if I did,,,,,,,,,,I'd never tell..............................I think he was just glad to see that I was alive.
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosso
I rode up to Indy for the 500 last weekend in the same car with a guy who races SCCA FV, which I always thought should be about the cheapest way to road race there could be, outside of karts. Said he lost a motor 3 weeks ago - cost to replace - $9,000.

That is at the VERY top end of what a FV national motor should run. You can get a front of the pack regional FV with enclosed trailer for less than that.
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by cooleyjb
That is at the VERY top end of what a FV national motor should run. You can get a front of the pack regional FV with enclosed trailer for less than that.
Thanks for jumping in - you are right - be careful what you are told. Right now there are a great amount of deals in FV running around. Once you get the car, trailer and misc items (figure around $7,000 for a good starter car) you can run races for around $700 per race.

Now, here is my opinion - If you have little experience and want to learn racing the right way, save up to run in the Race Series, even if you have to sit out a year or two. You will learn more in 1 year of racing in the Series than in 4 years of running your own car.

On the other hand - if you can't wait that long, or your cash flow does not look promising - get into sprint carts. Start with one of the lower spec classes. You don't need a trailer (you can strap it to the roof of your car if you don't have a truck or minivan), and you can work on it in your basement over the winter if you live where it gets cold.

After 1 year in SBRS or 2 years in karts, then you can move up to your own car in SCCA.

Alternate - do one year of autocrossing with one year of Track days.

These are all valid paths.

One thing that we have to remember - even the best deal is no deal if you can't afford it. I would love a new Porsche but.......

ChrisZ
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by cooleyjb
That is at the VERY top end of what a FV national motor should run. You can get a front of the pack regional FV with enclosed trailer for less than that.
Sounded expensive to me, too, but having never bought a FV motor, I had no basis in to dispute his claim. I believe he said they were running a Nationals-level schedule. How long does a set of tires last on a competitive FV?
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosso
Sounded expensive to me, too, but having never bought a FV motor, I had no basis in to dispute his claim. I believe he said they were running a Nationals-level schedule. How long does a set of tires last on a competitive FV?
FV is relatively easy on tires so depending on what level competitive I think they run 3-6 heat cycles on them. I was looking at them earlier this year when a nice deal on a Formula Continental that was 3 miles from my house presented itself.
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Folks -

Read this thread and wanted to share a recent experience.

However, before I do that, I need to PUBLICLY apologize to Sy for being delinquent in calling him - I have been, er, "out of the country" for a bit, but got back a week or so ago....and I owe him a call. The following was something I jumped on...

First - want to share my experience last weekend racing in the SCCA 12 Hours of Summit Point

Second - wanted to offer some comparatives to Skippyland

THE FIRST

I got a call on Thursday last week from a friend who had a seat open in the 12 hour race at Summit Point, in a Miata. Of course - I jumped on it. 3 drivers, a 12 hour, that's "4 hours of racin', dude!". Good part was it was with a team I knew and people I knew - so at a minimum, MUCH more fun than golf at some country club (I do NOT play golf, nor do I belong to a CC).

Headed down to Summit Point Friday - massive fiasco, but I got about 20mins in the SSM Miata on a sunny, dry day...having never seen the track, driven the car, or been around SCCA before. (Note - I hold an SCCA National license, but, er, I also belong to Costco....). Night practice rained out by a massive thunderstorm - so our best driver qualies us 6th in class before they shut down the track, and start the sump pumps.

Race day - gorgeous - but HOT. Those of you who know me, a Miata might seem like a tight fit. I can actually get in/out pretty well, and in fact my driver changes are among the fastest of our 3 car team (it ain't pretty, but it worked). Car is GREAT - killer brakes, neutral, top-notch preparation. HEAT - that could be an issue. I go buy a Cool Shirt (car has cool suit system). Wrong shirt - 2 vendors, I have Shirt A and car has System B. Good news - we have a GRINDER and grind my fittings so they work. We think.

The race starts, and we do well in the first and second stints. 95 degrees and humid. I get in the car around 3pm for my planned 90min stint. Hot as hell. I do pretty well - IMPORTANT NOTE - in these SCCA races, aggression counts, and skill is irrelevant. Spend more time dodging sideways cars, dive bombers and dealing with bump-drafters on the front straight than I was anticipating. HOT. Hmm - is this cool suit working? Radio to Pit - they say "yes". Race on....about 60mins into my stint, crew calls, tells me "uh, turn that toggle UP" and - wow - COOOLLLL water flows. WHAT a difference. Luckily, us wizards mounted a Camelbak in the cockpit to drink Gatorade from. Mounted it, even had a clever way to hang the hose. Bad News - cannot fit the mouthpiece UNDER my helmet. ALmost break a tooth and miss the brake point into T1 trying to screw with it. Oh Well... Last 15mins - the seat starts to let me know that my ass is wider than it likes - and starts pinching my pelvis, which creates cramps. MASSIVE pain. Braking? Optional. Clutch? Sorry. Come in on schedule when the car is about out of gas - literally roll out onto the pavement and grab the fire bottle to help the refuellers (SCCA rules - nobody can do anything until the 1-min fuel stop is done). CANNOT stand up due to leg cramps - no kneel professionally.

Our team was good - had a REAL hot-shoe in stint one, a fast guy in two (I am #3). We get back on it and pick off a few places in class, and overall. (However, in the span of one lap, we go from #3 to #9 to #7...SCCA claims "scoring is perfect, you are wrong, go away or we'll give you a penalty). Oh Well.

5pm. One of the cars ahead of us comes into the pit with a Turkey hanging out of the windshield. Literally. Blood, guts. Everywhere. Team hits the paddock, takes out windshield, back glass. 20mins later, they are back in.

745PM, I'm back in. I am the day-to-night transition guy. In the car, sore hips, but now the cool suit works and I am CRUISING. On-track antics continue, but we hold our spot - there are some FAST cars from Grand-Am ST, etc out there, but no worries. I have fun for about an hour.

DUSK. No problems - lights on, I keep charging. I gotta say, doing the Skippy stuff makes me worry MORE about my entry/exit speed, NOT about traffic either I pass or passes me...I'm actually VERY comfortable in the environment and passing good times. Incidents - first, a Honda goes off T10 and barrel rolls more than a drunk German during Oktoberfest. Parts everywhere - right in the impact zone. Local yellow. Holy Cow - I could hear Nic-Nic calling for FCY, but not to be. We haul ass past the corner workers winching it away.....apparently local yellow means "speed up" here. I do so. Then, a nice BMW 540 prepped to kill somehow ends up in the woods - literally, up a tree - at the exit of T9. Nice shot. Local yellow, we continue. Then a MB 2.3-16 impales itself at the exit of T3 - I dive to avoid what I think is an oilpan (only b/c I slipppeeddd through it). Local yellow - which means "speed up".

DARKNESS. OK, first problem - our windshield has 8 hours of oil, bugs, trash, crap and you name it on it. Glare? Understatement. Lights? WOW. Sun-Guns. However, my cornering lights point to the moon - no use on the road....in fact, SCCA Timing/Scoring threaten us with a meatball since I am blinding the tower when I go by. But, have to gut it out until the fuel is empty and we are on schedule to stop...so it's hairy.

DEER! About 5 laps from empty, another car hits a huge white-tail deer right at the entry to turn 1. Deer goes flying up, car goes flying off. Deer now laying broadside to the entry line to T1.

It is now pitch black, and we are hauling down the front straight in a gaggle, everyone jostling for T1 - and we see it. SCATTER. Cars everywhere, new lines invented on the spot....next lap, its clear that someone just ran Bambi over. Flat, Splat. "Fluids on the track". Hmm - as I slide through T1, I start getting a weird fragrance of deer guts meeting hot metal - which continues for the next 3 laps until I am out of the car.....(meanwhile, SCCA calls a local yellow and eventually gets a tow truck to haul the carcass off - about 15 mins later).

OK, I am out of the car, we have 2 hours left, so I am "pit crew" for the rest of the evening....things looking good, though I think SCCA scoring is more hosed up than I can imagine. LAST pitstop/driver change - we are 30 secs behind P5, and we are 5sec a lap faster....into the pits, we haul our #1 driver out....fuelling (BTW - we had SCCA right there, with a stopwatch).

1 min passes, the SCCA guy says "go!" and we go..only to have some woman that resembles Rosie O'Donnell pound down the pit to say we "have a penalty for touching the car because the fuel flap door wasn't fully closed". UNREAL.

(For those of you who have not seen an SCCA event, there are women wearing bikinis in the pits flagging cars in; people welding camshafts in the hotpits; and I would not be surprised to hear of people doing anything else based on what I saw...). WE RAGE - and get another penalty.

Finish out the night that way.

SO - in summary...here is what I learned
  • SBRS races are run MUCH more professionally, with less people. Kudos to the instructors, and the series crew.
  • SBRS drivers - even the nutcases out there - have more skill, maturity, sportsmanship and "racecraft" than this mob
  • An average SBRS series racer - i.e. me - can do VERY well in a new car, on a new track, in a new environment - off the bat - thanks to the training and coaching.
  • COST? This whole ordeal - 4 hours of seat time, a lot of fun, etc - cost me around $3300. It WAS a lot less than a SBRS weekend. THAT is something Skippy needs to work on.
  • Liability? about the same, if I crashed the car.
  • Comraderie? It WAS fun to hang with a bigger team, with all the accoutrements - but I could not NAME someone from another car or team I met. One of the best things about SBRS is hanging out with the crew...and while SCCA might promote that, they do not deliver.
  • Conclusion? I had fun, and will do it again. Definitely a different tone, environment and "crowd". Some of the guys who raced Skippy and were there told me that this is about as low and loose as you can get - i..e GrandAm, etc the situation is competitive, but much more professional.
There you have it - my trek outside Skippy racing.
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Great report Al,

Sounds like good chaotic fun. It does appear from yours and other anecdotal reports from Miata events that anyone with Skippy training has a leg up on much of the competition.

Your officiating portrayal also lines up with previous stories of questionable flag calls and head scratching penalties.

Always good when you can walk away with no crash damage and the smell of fresh deer meat in your fender wells.
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

That was an awesome recount. Thank you.

I love venison. I want in.

OK, seriously, that sounds like a lot of fun. I need to find out more about it. What a great way to broaden my driving skill and racecraft.
I have always thought about spec Miata but have heard it is a 50 cars smash em up derby.

I think the Skippy people have an advantage of others. I was at a Porsche club track day last weekend. One of the instructors came up and questioned a corner I was doing because I was taking it different than him. I told him I was following Jim Pace's instructions to lengthen the straight prior to this throw away corner. Later in the day I saw him trying it my way.

Marc

PS. It rained later in the day and I kicked all of their butts. The Quattro may have helped some.
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

My two cents on the value of SB is that it is pretty good, but it seems the price goes up at more than the rate of inflation (about 10% a year, while inflation is around 4-5%) while the seat time goes down. So for now it is good, but if this continues it won't be good much longer.

The race at Watkins Glen this year was two laps shorter than last year, due to an apparently smaller fuel tank. I don't know why the fuel tank got smaller as the previous years it seemed fine, but I do know that the race was two laps shorter. The practice sessions have also been shortened by a few minutes, which equates to a lap.

All this and the price still goes up about 10% a year. In my opinion the track time should stay the same (ie 30 minute practice sessions, not 28 or 27 minute ones) and races of 25-30 minutes, and not 20-25 minutes, especially if the price goes up each year.
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

I would bet that if SB ever does go to the new car that prices (practice, race and crash damage) will go up more than normal.

Marc
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by rf360m
The race at Watkins Glen this year was two laps shorter than last year, due to an apparently smaller fuel tank. I don't know why the fuel tank got smaller as the previous years it seemed fine, but I do know that the race was two laps shorter. The practice sessions have also been shortened by a few minutes, which equates to a lap.

All this and the price still goes up about 10% a year. In my opinion the track time should stay the same (ie 30 minute practice sessions, not 28 or 27 minute ones) and races of 25-30 minutes, and not 20-25 minutes, especially if the price goes up each year.
This was discussed at length in a thread about the Watkins Glen race weekend two weeks ago... I'll let Keith Watt's explain it again in his own words from that thread...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mopar92
OK... where do I start. First off, thank you ALL for coming to the Glen and for really being prepped and ready and we got all the groups in ever single day. I hate rushing or pushing customers, but it had to happen at the Glen. They are tight with us on track time.
The Tank- We used to use a fuel bladder in the cars. Many of them still have them, many do not. You can pull up the seat back and see if it is a hard or soft(bladder) tank. I think we went to the hard tank because of either availablity or something about the fuel pump not fitting it anymore or something. I believe the fuel pump that we use now is the Bosch with part number 0580254979 . I remember when we tested out this pump and replaced the stock Neon pump. The Neon pump could pump the amount and required fuel pressure and flow. What happens when you run any modern street car or this car for that matter low on fuel=overheated pump. Believe it or not, they design internal fuel pumps with the fuel to cool the pump. These are not reciprocating(positive displacement) pumps, but impellor and duct style. They pull 4 times the amperage of a typical reciprocal pump that many drag cars and older street cars use. In short, we burned out a bunch of the small, stock pumps. The pump in it now is much larger (there went 1 lap). Then the hard tank (there went 1 lap) replaced the bladder. Not to mention that the larger pump could overcome slosh when it got real low (last lap stuff and right handers if I remember correct, i.e. Carousel RA).
So, between the hard cell and the new style pump(really 2 years old now), that lost us the 2 laps. I had RB run a car out of fuel and it would do 11 laps.... but then figure in your warm up, that's 10+1.

Thanks again guys, feel free to jab sticks and suggestions at me as always!

FYI- We had 4 new cars from Lime Rock and all had new, but old style bladders. I'll dig into this and see whats up. I'd love to make your races longer.
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalyduo
Note to self... When passing Brian always make sure he has both hands on the wheel...

I will make sure I remember that one while going full out approaching turn one at road america.
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Old 06-07-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosso
DD, all you have to do now is exploit his youthful fatal flaw!

Tape a copy of this on the back of your car's Hamster Device and the kids will follow you around all day:

http://www.teamjuicyracing.com/forum...hp?i=1876&c=30

you know me all to well.
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Old 06-08-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Coming late to this party.

16 years into SB, it remains, all for all, a remarkably good
experience. Agree about price rising faster than inflation while sessions getting shorter, but still the best all around value when inimitable staff are factored in - not to mention the customer characters!

JP's right about the essence: equal cars and let's go racing.
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Old 06-11-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

Hey Al, good to hear from you! Thanks for the report, good info and good laughs, your storytelling put me right there with you, glad you are getting some fun seat time. Any eastern excursions in the near future?
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Old 06-12-2007
AlDelattre AlDelattre is offline
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

hey Doug -

Good to hear from you - I have been out of touch for sure, I have owed Sy a call for about 4 weeks now.

Am planning on doing LRP in mid-July.....and might do another 24 Hour race in a Miata later in August

I have been gone most weekends - I was at Canada GP - had a mindblowing time as I got to spend a lot of time in the pits/paddock thank$ to our $ponsorship of Williams. I even ran into Paul Demeester, who used to race SkippyWest with us and is now General Counsel for STR.

Tried to get down to see Alex Rossi in FBMW but simply did not have time to hike over there.....but my wife did tell Jackie Stewart to keep an eye on him!

I got to see Kubica's car upclose...ugly. Another vote for carbon-composite tubs!

See you guys soon
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Old 06-12-2007
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Re: Starting Out in Racing

coolness, see you at LRP (with camera only, no racing this time)
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