Cheap Speed

Building and driving a race car doesn’t have to be an expensive dream. Not everyone can field a privately funded NASCAR team, but contests for speed freaks of reasonable means have been growing in popularity.

One of the most successful and longest-running budget motorsports events is the Grassroots Motorsports $200X Challenge, held once a year in Gainesville, Florida. The event began in 1999 when the magazine’s editors challenged their readers to buy, build, and compete in a vehicle on a total investment of less than $1500. The contest would be scored in three categories: drag racing, autocross, and a concours-style car show, with these scores combined to determine an overall winner. Although it was intended to be a one-time story to see what was possible on such a restrictive budget, the Challenge was an instant success, with 23 teams entering that first competition. The magazine staff decided to make it an annual event in 2001 and the allowed budget was raised to match the calendar year.

Grassroots Motorsports held their 10th Challenge event October 8-10, once again offering their readers a chance to compete with their innovative and inexpensive race cars. More than 50 teams from across the country entered the Grassroots Motorsports $2009 Challenge, each hoping their strategy for cheap speed would prove superior. The event has attracted some big-name sponsors, including Kumho Tires, Bully Dog, and eBay Motors. The eBay relationship has been very popular with competitors, as many teams use the online auction site to find their Challenge cars and parts.

The event’s budget limitations force teams to do most of the work on their cars themselves. They must also shop wisely for the performance parts and modifications that are necessary for a solid finish at the event. This breeds a great deal of creativity, and Challenge competitors have become experts in recycling scrap into speed. Home-brewed turbocharging setups, used racing tires, and custom built suspension components are the order of the day for top teams.

Competition was close at the most recent Challenge, but the overall win was secured by Team Gutty, a Michigan-based team who made their third Challenge appearance this year. Their 1988 Honda CRX was originally purchased for a measly $424.00, but thanks to the team’s clever low-buck engineering the car turned the quarter mile in just 11.84 seconds. Thanks to a great deal of hard work and some savvy shopping, the team’s total investment in the car was at just $1915.39 at the time of the Challenge, well under the $2009 budget cap. Team Gutty’s dominant performance was accomplished with a top-5 finish in all three scored categories.

Think you're up for the Challenge? Check out our Kumho Tires Grassroots Motorsports $2010 Challenge page for dates, rules and other information.

For more information on the $2009 Challenge, check out our $2009 Challenge coverage or watch for full coverage in Grassroots Motorsports magazine.

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