take13care None
Nov. 21, 2016 11:36 a.m.

So dont hate me for asking this question once again, but seeing as how this forum is laced with experience (truth and also partial peace offering) I am - this close - to getting my first ride for racing... of some sort.

Yesterday I had planned to buy an '03 MINI cooper S... after a week of haggling and planning the 3 hr trip, the guy never emailed me back. However, I was incredibly determined that it would be the day I buy a my project. There was a 1990 miata w/ rear dif and only 150k miles or so. Red car with white fender and blue mirror, wires where the radio should be, and the video the guy was using to promote it on facebook was just him bouncing it off the limiter doing donuts... SOLD!

but no rust (at least in the pics) and well.. i was determined.

the mini: http://vermont.craigslist.org/cto/5864371309.html

the miata: http://nh.craigslist.org/ptd/5853754351.html

My lovely wife told me I was being a bit impulsive, and I kissed her forehead then walked out the door. As I was driving to pick up my cousin to go with me, to buy the car I had just settled on mere minutes before, the words of my wise wife settled in. Perhaps I was being a bit impulsive.

So I decided to wait.

I have been caught between a miata and MINI for some time now. The 89 hatchback civic has crossed my mind, along with CRX's and impreza RS and focus ZX3 and Golf GTI and protege and older BMW 3 series... I am literally all over.

Maybe the best place to start is deciding which route is typically easiest to start racing. Autocross or rallycross? Am i better off not ever putting this car on the road and just building it for track days or do you find its better driving it to the race and home (i feel like that may be rewarding in some way lol)...

Im looking at something cheap to get my feet wet, with the potential to turn it into something more. I feel like I cant go wrong with any of those listed above but that doesnt help me narrow anything down. The miata I know is an obvious choice, but thats part of what makes me want something else. I also need to get something fairly easy to work and that makes me a little worried about the BMW's. That may only be in my head though.

So I come seeking advice on the best way to break into the sport. I am trying to make a plan of action, as the more I read and search the more off track I get with what I want to do.

Learn me??

Keith Tanner MegaDork
Nov. 21, 2016 11:38 a.m.

Drive a Mini and a Miata. Which one do you like better? Because this is just for fun, so you might as well build a car you like driving.

Go to an autox and a rallyx, figure out which one floats your boat. Same deal. You can do just about anything at a fun level with any car, so don't get hung up on building the perfect vehicle.

take13care New Reader
Nov. 21, 2016 11:45 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner:

great points! So i have been to both as a spectator and they each seem equally fun. I guess I would prefer autox because that build seems to have more growth potential.

When I was, a young boy, <-- song ref, anyway - I was introduced to this entire sport by a miata.. I remember riding in it to the track ripping through traffic and blasting over this steep little bridge and getting a little air borne... I love them. I just feel as though that is too easy... maybe I am just over thinking it right?

I have also driven in a Mini and love it, its tiny until your in it. They are both basically go carts.

I guess I am speaking more to the racing part. The class and competitiveness of each car. I want to have fun but I want to start out with a platform that could lead to competitive times.

Bobzilla UltimaDork
Nov. 21, 2016 11:47 a.m.
take13care wrote: In reply to Keith Tanner: great points! So i have been to both as a spectator and they each seem equally fun. I guess I would prefer autox because that build seems to have more growth potential. When I was, a young boy, <-- song ref, anyway - I was introduced to this entire sport by a miata.. I remember riding in it to the track ripping through traffic and blasting over this steep little bridge and getting a little air borne... I love them. I just feel as though that is too easy... maybe I am just over thinking it right? I have also driven in a Mini and love it, its tiny until your in it. They are both basically go carts. I guess I am speaking more to the racing part. The class and competitiveness of each car. I want to have fun but I want to start out with a platform that could lead to competitive times.

WITH the right driver, any car is competitive. I mean, I've kept the Forte in the top 25 PAX times for almost 2 years locally with many many top 10 finishes. In a Forte. Getting hung up on trying to pick the perfect car for the perfect class will lead to more frustration and anger than fun.

edit: i say this because I'vebeen there. Find something you enjoy, find a class that you can have fun and go from there.

John Brown MegaDork
Nov. 21, 2016 11:49 a.m.

Actually go to multiple autocrosses and rallycrosses.

What do you drive on a daily basis? Take THAT for the first few events. I have autocrossed XR4Ti, NA Miata, Mazda 929, Camaro, Cobalt, Cruze, Focus and ND Miata and each one was more fun than a bucket full of tacos.

cmcgregor HalfDork
Nov. 21, 2016 11:55 a.m.

If you want something now - get a Miata. I have one I'll sell you cheaper than ExpoLine, and it's the best time of the year to buy one and stash it away for spring.

If you can wait until spring, come out to a few autocrosses at Devens and see what people are running. There's a lot of variety, especially at the SCCA run events. People are pretty friendly and happy to share info, too.

Personally, I think ST* is a fun place to be in a Miata - locally there's a lot of competition and you can do a lot of the fun mods that you want for a street car anyway.

take13care New Reader
Nov. 21, 2016 12:07 p.m.

In reply to John Brown:

f150

take13care New Reader
Nov. 21, 2016 12:15 p.m.
cmcgregor wrote: If you want something now - get a Miata. I have one I'll sell you cheaper than ExpoLine, and it's the best time of the year to buy one and stash it away for spring. If you can wait until spring, come out to a few autocrosses at Devens and see what people are running. There's a lot of variety, especially at the SCCA run events. People are pretty friendly and happy to share info, too. Personally, I think ST* is a fun place to be in a Miata - locally there's a lot of competition and you can do a lot of the fun mods that you want for a street car anyway.

thanks for this reply -

I actually was able to get him down to $1300 on that, but I backed out because it wasn't what I was really planning on buying to begin with.

I may actually wait til spring and do exactly what you are saying. Is Devens the main course around this area? And is there any other link you are using for the planning of events and info and such other than the ner.org site? There is a forum over on that site maybe better suited for these questions but it doesnt seem to be very active.

cmcgregor HalfDork
Nov. 21, 2016 12:26 p.m.

Yes, most of the clubs run at Devens. There is also autocross at NHMS in Loudon, mostly through SCCNH, and ADSI in Rhode Island. The best place to find events is motorsportreg.com - with the exception of Renegade Miata club, the MA and NH events are all listed there. SCCA is the only one that doesn't have a cap on registration and also allows non-members to register, though it costs more if you don't have a membership.

The NER site is unfortunately pretty dead, as you've seen. The Facebook group is a little more active.

Let me know if you want to come try out an SCCA event - I have an STS Miata that you're welcome to codrive!

pinchvalve MegaDork
Nov. 21, 2016 12:41 p.m.

At that price point, I am guessing that you are looking at a normally aspirated Mini? That classes in HS against the Fiesta ST. With lots of development behind it, the Mini has remained competitive in HS, but it is down 80hp to the FiST. 80hp. It's days are numbered, and at a local level, it is already hard to beat the FiST in a Mini.

The Civic will most likely run in a Street Touring Class, and they remain pretty competitive there. There are unlimited mods and information out there, and you don't need a metric ton of money to do well. (though it helps in any class)

I don't know much about the Miata, other than it works well stock and makes grown men giggle like school girls with a supercharger. (myself included) It's RWD, and if you plan on getting more serious over time, some people will tell you to begin as you mean to go on.

In the end, buy the best example you can find of any of them and you will be happy. If it rains a lot where you are, go for a Subaru. If not, go Miata. If you are poor, go Civic. If not, go Lamborghini.

pinchvalve MegaDork
Nov. 21, 2016 12:42 p.m.

Let me clarify, the Miata with a Supercharger makes grown men giggle, not school girls with a supercharger. You know what I meant.

SVreX MegaDork
Nov. 21, 2016 1:13 p.m.

I've had both.

The MINI Cooper S is an absolute hoot to drive. I prefer it as a combination street driver.

The Miata is fun to take past where you should. I like beating on the Miata, and making it go fast enough to break stuff. It's much more user friendly to work on.

If I had a ton of money and was paying someone else to work on the car, I'd drive a MINI S. I don't have a ton of money, and I am the one working on the car, so I drive a Miata.

Both are fun.

I giggle like a schoolgirl when I drive a MINI. Continuously. I set my jaw and try a little harder in the Miata.

I've never driven a JCW or a V8 Miata. I think I would like them both!

(Note: a lot of guys don't really like the FWD experience- I do)

Bobzilla UltimaDork
Nov. 21, 2016 1:21 p.m.

In reply to pinchvalve:

Sadly that's not true. To be at the pointy end nationally, you're going to need the shocks that are worth twice what the car is. you want to be at the pointy end you either need raw talent and wuite a bit of money or decent talent and lots of money.

Nov. 21, 2016 2:45 p.m.

Miatas are fun. Old BMWs are fun. So are Minis. An E30 or E36 BMW isn't hard to work on at all (I've had an E36 sedan and a 318ti hatch and didn't come across a job I couldn't do in my driveway) It is worth noting that parts for a BMW/Mini will be significantly more expensive than parts for a Miata/Focus/Civic or similar.

Choosing between autocross and rallycross might depend on what's going on in your area. For example: I'm lucky because the Detroit region SCCA rallycross is a very active region and I live 30 min. away from one of the sites they use. I'm also 30 min. away from a good place to do track days (Waterford Hills.) Find out what is close and available. All those things can be done with a mostly stock street car that you drive every day.

For me, I've long thought my goal was to build up a fun car for autox/rallyx/track days but I've recently decided to save my fun car $$ to race with an existing Chumpcar team. Lots of competitive track time and fun hanging out with car people and I don't have to own/prep/transport/fix a race car all by myself. So if your interest is more driving than having a project car, maybe look into that? I've found the key is to find the team that you trust and like hanging out with.

In the meantime I can take our appliance Focus to a trackday or my beater Ranger to a rallycross.

If your interest is in having a fun project car to build up and take to events you really can't go wrong with the things you've listed. As others have said it really comes down to what you like. Since you have Focus ZX3 and Civics (the Chump team I hang out with races Hondas) on your list why not expand that to include Escort Zx2s and twin cam Saturns? One of my favorite cars was a beat up 97 Saturn SL2. There's a big difference between fwd and rwd and all cars have a unique personality. The great thing about buying older cars like this? If you don't like it after a while you can sell it off and move on to something else!

take13care New Reader
Nov. 22, 2016 9:35 a.m.

wow i really appreciate all the input, the knowledge of what cars compete well in the different classes is something i think will help me settle on my ultimate decision.

have you all read that story about the guy who took the, i believe '91, 3 series and competed in WRC and finished 3rd in his class? I have visions of grandeur that sort of impede my ability to act with confidence. Though the miata seems to be the answer to everything, every time.

Ofcourse I am not blind enough to believe that I'll all of a sudden be great. I am just hoping with the right car, as my skill slowly gets better my car can as well. Set up for success kind of thing.

CMG - that is alot of great info and I will be looking into those sites. Im assuming that yellow miata is your current set up? i just may have to take you up on that offer some day!

blue - thanks for the response, and i have thought about the zx2 and saturns only i assumed that it would be harder to come across performance parts for these and maybe not quite as big a DIY community. The bmw, miata and honda communities have just an over whelming amount of videos and instructionals that kind of make me lean toward them.

Another car I didnt list but have really considered is the protege...

there is a '96 accord available nearby to me that is only $650 and im sure i could get it cheaper. i know they are kind of heavy and this isnt an EX but at next to free it could be fun... part of this whole thing is i like the chumpcars and that is an interesting perspective to find a team like that.

cmcgregor HalfDork
Nov. 22, 2016 10:24 a.m.

The nice thing about Miatas (and other mainstream choices) is that if you try it and don't like it, they're easy to sell to like-minded lunatics who have their own delusions of grandeur. Building an oddball is great, but you're gonna have a hard time getting rid of it if you hate it when you're done.

Yes, the yellow car is my current autocrosser. It's not built 100% to the limit of the rules, but it's plenty fun. I'm way short on the talent required to win around here anyway.

RedGT HalfDork
Nov. 22, 2016 12:13 p.m.

If you have a stock class Miata, that is a perfectly valid Rallycross car as well if you want to do both.

cmcgregor wrote: I'm way short on the talent required to win around here anyway.

You just need more pirate ship in your build.

NickD Dork
Nov. 22, 2016 12:40 p.m.

Can confirm that Miata is a great way to go. Dead nuts reliable, fun to drive, cheap consumables, big aftermarket support and with them being on the upside of appreciation, buy one now and sell it in a year or two to make your money back and then some. I am also in the same boat as cmcgregor, underbuilt for my class and lacking in driving talent to win, but I still have a lot of fun.

take13care New Reader
Nov. 23, 2016 10:57 a.m.
cmcgregor wrote: If you want something now - get a Miata. I have one I'll sell you cheaper than ExpoLine, and it's the best time of the year to buy one and stash it away for spring. If you can wait until spring, come out to a few autocrosses at Devens and see what people are running. There's a lot of variety, especially at the SCCA run events. People are pretty friendly and happy to share info, too. Personally, I think ST* is a fun place to be in a Miata - locally there's a lot of competition and you can do a lot of the fun mods that you want for a street car anyway.

so now im interested... how much? lol he was going to sell that one for $1300

cmcgregor HalfDork
Nov. 23, 2016 12:18 p.m.
RedGT wrote: If you have a stock class Miata, that is a perfectly valid Rallycross car as well if you want to do both.
cmcgregor wrote: I'm way short on the talent required to win around here anyway.
You just need more pirate ship in your build.

LOL

Probably true. Eric Chiang is no slouch either.

OP, I can't beat that price. But PM me and I'll send you some details on the car I'm selling. Gotta get it posted here and on Craigslist anyway, maybe this weekend.

Lof8 HalfDork
Nov. 23, 2016 12:39 p.m.
take13care wrote: have you all read that story about the guy who took the, i believe '91, 3 series and competed in WRC and finished 3rd in his class?

Bill Caswell. "Build. Race. Party" great motto

Mister Fister Reader
Nov. 23, 2016 1:27 p.m.

Miata, because FWD is for commuter cars.

take13care New Reader
Nov. 28, 2016 7:01 p.m.

Ok so I have two options.

93 Miata with 190k cracked bumper and some slight rocker panel rust but runs strong has good clutch and is on coil overs

03 focus SVT hatch - needs battery has cracked windshield and runs when jumped but kind of rough... 175k

Both are 1g what do I buy this week?

thestig99
thestig99 HalfDork
Nov. 28, 2016 7:25 p.m.

All of these options sound fun.

From what I have seen, MINI's are BMW's and need to be treated or they can bite you hard... not unlike any other complex european car.

VT/NH CL posts, where are you located? I have a rough 1.8 swapped 1990 Miata that I would unload CHEAP right now in central VT.

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
Nov. 28, 2016 8:07 p.m.
take13care wrote: Ok so I have two options. 93 Miata with 190k cracked bumper and some slight rocker panel rust but runs strong has good clutch and is on coil overs 03 focus SVT hatch - needs battery has cracked windshield and runs when jumped but kind of rough... 175k Both are 1g what do I buy this week?

Its the rust you DONT see that gets you...Did you get to look under the carpets? The mechanical stuff on Miatae is relatively easy and parts are mostly affordable. A used bumper cover can be found in a day. But rust repair has a way of turning into $$$, and it can be hard to sell a crusty car to non-enthusiasts. Be sure to check the top as best you can for leaks...

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