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Tom1200
Tom1200 HalfDork
10/13/17 8:31 p.m.

Regardless of age no driver enjoys being embarrassed; I turn 55 next week and some young guys at the track days I instruct at initially get a little hurt that a guy 20 years older in a slower older car catches and passes them. The same thing happens to me when 12yr old kids on 80cc motocross bikes blowing past me. My buddy gives me a hard time about trying to chase them down "you keep trying to pass them back and salvage your ego. My reply is always "no I'm trying hang on and see if I can learn something.

Racers are good people and love nothing more than mixing it up with friends; whether those friends are 20 years older or younger.

While the majority of the drivers are 40+ I do see lots of younger drivers. There are loads of low cost alternatives for vintage racing. Vintage Formula Vees can be had for 5K. I could put 1.6 Miata on track pretty darn cheap, it might not be a front runner but it would still be fun. So there are plenty of reasons for a young guy looking for fun. Also a Miata or 1980s car is going to be less labor intensive than a 50s or 60s car so I think the future is bright.

frenchyd
frenchyd HalfDork
10/14/17 9:12 a.m.

In reply to Tom1200 : I'm not so sure the future is all that bright,  while I agree that new cars can be raced without the normal thrash of building engines and rebuilding chassis, the simple fact is the new generation has less interest in cars than us baby boomers. 

We baby boomers see cars as fun and to a degree status symbols. The new guys see cars as expense and traffic jams.  

We baby boomers used cars to interest girls ( a very powerful motivator) the new kids have social media for that purpose. 

Our hero's were guys successful on the race track and we tried to emulate them. The new hero's are fictionalized super hero's with impossible skills. 

Baby boomers into motor sports could tell you who won the Indy 500 Daytona and some even who the formula 1 champion is. 

I'm about as serious a gear head there is and I can't tell you who they are.  

Seats in major motor sports events sit empty, sponsorship participation is falling off.  

Any sport has it's "Golden Age"  A J Foyt, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Dale Earnhardt are the tip of the tongue names.  

How many of today's youth even know who they were let alone want to be like them?  

 

Gary
Gary SuperDork
10/14/17 9:55 a.m.

In reply to frenchyd:

Well said

MazdaFace
MazdaFace Reader
11/10/17 6:05 a.m.

Lots of interesting views in this thread. I've played around with the idea of vintage racing but due to budget and cost autox in a stockish car is probably where I'll end up. If I did get into it it would be in something from the 80's, or a late model corvair. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 HalfDork
11/11/17 4:42 p.m.

There are several ways to stretch the budget:

Only run events within an hour or two; you are close to a coulple of tracks that have vintage races. Also limit the number of events, instead of 10-12 autocrossess do 4-5 vintage races.

Used race tires; up until 4 years ago I was using takes offs I'd get from John Berget racing tires, $250-$300 a set versus $800 new. I'd run them for the year which for me was 4 events

Keep the motor in a mild state of tune; it will go forever and run on pump gas.

Other than your helmet you can get most of your gear used; people buy race suits shoes etc wear them once and then decide they don't like it for one reason or another. If your suit is two sizes to big it doesn't matter. You can also find smoking deals on close outs for race gear; I try not to more than 5 years on a helmet so I've in the past bought the previous year Snell helmet (read Snell 2010 close out etc.) I have a Snell 2015 helmet at the moment because I got a deal on it. 

If you don't care about where you finish vintage racing is cheap; I'm usually the only car in my class but my goal is to make the top 5 overall. My Datsun is running a 1500cc motor instead of the 1200cc motor it should have. Regardless of which motor I run there likely  isn't going to be other cars in either class. I run the larger motor in a lower state of tune, it offers the same performance level as the smaller motor without the constant rebuilds. When I get bumped up into the B-sedan  (2.0 liter cars) run group there are still 3-4 cars that I have fantastic races with. Finishing 9th out of 17 cars doesn't sound as good as finishing 5th out of 25-30 cars but as long as you have a great scrap who cares.

The big thing is not getting cuaght up in arms race so to speak. A race motor would allow me to out the car on the front row in the small bore group and easily top 5 in the 2.0 liter group. The problem is it would cost me another $4000 to build (doing it myself) plus an extra $1500 a year in running costs.

The car you choose makes a huge difference. 

vintage Formula Vees can be had cheap, $4000-$7000 for an entry level car. If you run used tires and do the work yourself the budget wouldn't be much more than local autocross. Vintage Vees use the standard VW cooling fan so unlike modern Vees the motors will go multiple seasons. Also not using every last Rpm in practice goes a long way to helping the budget.  

Old Spec Racer Renaults are no longer SCCA legal and can be had for as little as $6000. They don't wear anything out. The two people I know who run these re-ring the motors every 4 years or so. One of them had about 25 races on the motor.  

1.6 Miata, if the group allows them, are incredibly cheap. I can put one together for 4K. It won't be competitive if there are any built to the limits Spec Miatas but if you leave the motor stock you can drive it to and from events. I used my Showroom Stock Miata as a daily driver. I wish I knew where the car was because I'd try and run it in Showroom Stock trim (it was a top 5 Runoffs car), this would be super cheap to run. A used set of race tires $300 and a $100 set of brake pads would be the only running costs. I'd also drive it to and from events within reason (anything within the 3 hours of the house) I've seen lots of racers doing this and simply camping at any track that allows it. 

One of the vintage 911 guys used to drive to all the events. The only reason he trailers it now is because he and his son share the car now.

As more 80s cars start racing vintage coming up with a budget friendly entry gets easier. Mildly tuned cars like a CRX, MR2 Corolla GTS or Miatas are sturdy as all get out. 

 

 

frenchyd
frenchyd HalfDork
11/13/17 6:38 a.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :Don't forget there are plenty of us vintage racers who for one reason or another have given up.  A lot of those cars can be had for modest money now that the bloom is off the rose so to speak.  

By that I mean only a tiny number of very historic cars actually sell for the prices asked.  Most ordinary vintage cars the owner gives up marketing it and it becomes a future barn find or is scrapped by heirs who inherit dads old car.  

This month alone I heard about a Jaguar XK120  and an Alfa Romero 

 

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
11/13/17 7:06 a.m.

For those involved, how about another thread discussing the major historic and vintage race groups in the different regions?  HAve a general perusal via Google shows a bewildering number of organizations.  I know there was an article in either GRM or CM a few years ago outlining the different groups, classes and regions, not sure when it was.  Might be an idea to update that again.

Tom1200
Tom1200 HalfDork
11/14/17 11:07 p.m.

Adrian I'll start up another thread titled "my vintage racing club" or something similar.

Drunkonunleaded
Drunkonunleaded HalfDork
12/4/17 10:39 p.m.

I don't normally comment in this section as I have absolutely zero involvement with what would traditionally be described as "vintage," but feel as though perhaps some might be interested in how the younger generation views this manner.

 

I'm a mid-20s guy who recently left his job and went back to grad school.  For what it's worth, I was raised primarily by my late-boomer father and greatest-generation grandmother, so my worldview is not one of the typical "Millennial."  Since high school, I've owned a smattering of GRM approved cars (79 Corvette, Foxbody, C5Z, Neon ACR, and a few lesser Neons, the first three I still own).  From my perspective, there's a few issues at play here.  I will try to address them in no particular order.

 

1) College and post-college employment.  I was fortunate.  I dropped out of Engineering school at 20 and knocked out classes at Community College to keep my mind sharp.  Spent time working behind a parts counter.  Landed a "real" job in the medical field where practical knowledge > a degree.  Made decent money, bought whatever I wanted, vacationed, etc.  Always had 2-3 project/fun cars kicking around.  It wasn't until I decided to "take the next step" due to boredom with my (then current) job that I decided to head back for three years to finish my Bachelor's and obtain my Master's

Unfortunately, many are not so fortunate.  They picked poor degree programs, etc.  This is pretty well documented and I won't get into it.  I will not say that the younger generation are not into cars or racing, but it is perceived as a hobby for more affluent people.  The reality is that combining the lower incomes of the current generation and their poor spending habits have a lot to do with this.  While I never received negativity from people for owning 4-5 cars at a time, many asked how I afforded it.  The truth is, it's easy to afford a car payment, a restoration, etc. when you cut out going to the bar every week.  That alone is worth a few hundred dollars per month.

 

2) Current automotive enthusiast landscape.  I blame the internet A LOT for this.  Things like GRM do not exist on the rest of the internet.  On a daily basis we are bombarded by the next "big build," with cost-no-object engines, motorsport-grade electronics, etc.  It's no longer enough to put together a clean driver with mild engine mods, decent suspension, etc.  If you're not running high-compression, forced induction, Motec ECU, Racepak, or similar, nobody seems to be excited anymore.  I won't touch on visual enhancements because they really don't have anything to do with this topic, but that certainly plays a part.  People are so jaded by SEMA/sponsored builds and other craziness on Instagram that they're out of touch with reality.  Even though I offered to completely fund building one of my Neons into a Chumpcar, I found few friends who would personally be willing to put in the work.  Either they were not mechanically-inclined or cared little about road racing because it wasn't "cool."

 

I've noticed that a lot of the interest comes in three flavors: hardparking, HPDE, or drag racing.  Scroll Facebook videos and you'll see a ton of content from places like 1320 Video showing 1000+ HP cars doing highway rolls.  I love how road racing has maintained some semblance of tradition because I appreciate those sort of things, but they do a poor job of reaching new demographics.  This is one area where events like Gridlife have really capitalized.

 

When it comes down to it, the era of taping your headlights and heading to the track are over.  As mentioned previously in this thread, I feel ego has a lot to do with it.  For whatever reason, the current generation is so risk adverse that they would rather stay at home than be "humiliated" while competing in any sort of activity.  Likewise, the ability to afford and house 3+ vehicles (tow rig, DD, race car) and a trailer is not something many can muster, let alone care to deal with. Most would rather just dump money into a better street car.  

 

3) "Vintage" car classification.  This has been discussed before.  I feel the suggestion of letting in old IT cars would be a GREAT idea.  There are tons of "outdated" GTIs, Omnis, Escorts, Neons, Hondas, etc. that have no place to really play.  Craigslist is littered with old IT cars for a few thousand dollars.  While they might be heavily outgunned at a normal SCCA event or similar, these would fit right in with a vintage event.  Not too many GenX/Millennials care about Sprites, TDs, and the like as they have no real emotional connection to those cars.  80s/90s stuff is pretty hot right now, and only growing in popularity.  This eliminates a lot of the more affluent/established younger people who either end up doing HPDEs, go back to street cars, or MAYBE entering something like Lemons or Chump.  Moreover, current generation car guys are A LOT more comfortable with ECU tuning than they are synchronizing SU carburetors and using a timing light.  Failure to adapt (for lack of better verbiage) definitely has a lot to do with it.

 

So this basically boils down to a cost issue, but not necessarily because "racing is too expensive."  I really tried to make this into something other than a "Millennials are killing X" rant, hopefully things did not come across too negatively.

jr02518
jr02518 Reader
12/5/17 1:23 a.m.

Tom,

I will be making the drive to Buttonwillow in January for VARA University, this will be my forth visit.  I find the combination of track time with instruction and the cars from a broad range of racing time frames like a vintage car show on the track.  I have shared the track with everything from current Camaro SS rental cars and Cobra replicas to a Cad Allard.  My personal challenge, I might get to drive a race car but I am not a race car driver.  On a track.

I have spent years embracing Solo2.  This year competing in a 13 event series, the only event I missed was in January while attending VARA U, driving in E Street.  I have a 1995 NA Miata.  But as my car is officially obsolete I drove as many other cars in our region that I could talk my way into.  So, given access to a total of five different cars over the season, I finished first in class.  But going forward, I will not be looking for the 1999 NB Miata that has to have Penske shocks to chase the local jacket.  Why not?  Because I found a 1987 BMW E30 finished in 2010 to a NASA GT2 spec and the fenders have not been cut.

The car currently has a 2.5 litter Non Vanos M50 under the hood.  In non BMW lingo, it's a twin cam 6 cylinder 24 valve motor with fuel injection and the cams are not effected by oil pressure.  The challenge, other than spending the time and earning the money to have the car worked on, is how and where to I get the seat time to learn my new toy?   Why at an Auto cross of corse and I have done two practice days so far.  What I have learned with out having to update the safety gear is first, I do not have the will power or desire to loose the 15lbs. that I swore I would before I buy the race suit.  Because it really is 20lbs.  And the car only has one seat.  And given that it's too new with the "Franken Motor", I get to run in GTO with VARA.  But it will be, on the track! 

David

     

 

 

LanEvo
LanEvo HalfDork
12/5/17 10:45 a.m.

I don't normally comment in this section as I have absolutely zero involvement with what would traditionally be described as "vintage," but feel as though perhaps some might be interested in how the younger generation views this manner.

The old definition of vintage may be part of the problem. Many "vintage" racing groups have embraced more modern cars. When you say "vintage racing," most people assume you mean cars from the '50s through maybe the '70s. But cars from the '80s and '90s are increasingly welcome.

The truth is, it's easy to afford a car payment, a restoration, etc. when you cut out going to the bar every week.  That alone is worth a few hundred dollars per month.

It may be easier to find interesting women in a bar than, say, underneath a rusty Corvair.

2) Current automotive enthusiast landscape.  I blame the internet A LOT for this.  Things like GRM do not exist on the rest of the internet.  On a daily basis we are bombarded by the next "big build," with cost-no-object engines, motorsport-grade electronics, etc.  It's no longer enough to put together a clean driver with mild engine mods, decent suspension, etc.  If you're not running high-compression, forced induction, Motec ECU, Racepak, or similar, nobody seems to be excited anymore. 

That's actually a very good point. If you live your life one Instagram "like" at a time (as many seem to do), then you're not going to be interested in building up a Mazda 3 with sunburnt paint. If your frame of reference starts with the megabuck builds you see at SEMA, then maybe you don't see the point of embarking on a modest project.

When it comes down to it, the era of taping your headlights and heading to the track are over.  As mentioned previously in this thread, I feel ego has a lot to do with it.  For whatever reason, the current generation is so risk adverse that they would rather stay at home than be "humiliated" while competing in any sort of activity.  

That may be our own fault. I still drive my racecar to the track. It's an '87 190E 2.3-16 touring car. It's pretty big, heavy, and slow to start with. And driving to events means I get one set of "rain" tires (aka, the regular street tires I drove to the event on), one set of "race" tires (aka, whatever R-comps were cheapest on TireRack that week), plus whatever tools and spares I can fit in the trunk.

Then I show up at an amateur club race where people have 20 Hoosier R7's mounted and ready to go in their covered trailers. Every once in a while, someone will "shame" me for using cheap tires (often Hankook Z214's, sometimes Toyo R888R's), not gutting the car (still have power windows!), and about a million other perceived violations. Just as often, I'll get some kind words (usually from old-timers) who applaud me for being there and having fun with it.

Clearly, there's an arms race going on with groups like NASA, PCA, and BMW CCA. People are spending what seems to me like a crazy amount of money on what's fundamentally a nonsensical hobby. Maybe sharing the track with folks like me who take a more grassroots (!) approach is causing some cognitive dissonance for that kind of guy. Ultimately, I find the vintage crowd a lot more welcoming than I had expected. I've been having fun with them!

3) "Vintage" car classification.  This has been discussed before.  I feel the suggestion of letting in old IT cars would be a GREAT idea.  There are tons of "outdated" GTIs, Omnis, Escorts, Neons, Hondas, etc. that have no place to really play ... Not too many GenX/Millennials care about Sprites, TDs, and the like as they have no real emotional connection to those cars.  80s/90s stuff is pretty hot right now, and only growing in popularity. 

Again, I think that's already changed. The group I run with is VARAC, based in Ontario. They run cars from the '80s (Goup 70+) and '90s (Group 90) in a mixed "classic" grid. It's one of the largest fields at each event. 

LanEvo
LanEvo HalfDork
12/5/17 10:53 a.m.
jr02518 said:

I found a 1987 BMW E30 finished in 2010 to a NASA GT2 spec and the fenders have not been cut...The car currently has a 2.5 litter Non Vanos M50 under the hood...The challenge, other than spending the time and earning the money to have the car worked on, is how and where to I get the seat time to learn my new toy?

There's definitely room for an M50-swapped E30 with vintage racing groups, at least on the east coat. There were a bunch of extremely modified E30s at the VARAC Vintage Grand Prix at Mosport last summer. And a bunch of E30 and E36 racecars running at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix:

http://www.pvgp.org/

http://varac.ca/vvgp/2018-vgp/

Here's a shot of my car, which was featured on the PVGP website:

frenchyd
frenchyd Dork
12/5/17 11:36 a.m.

In reply to LanEvo :

Racing has always had the silver spoon set versus  the grass roots type.  Ferrari vs MG Because I can have this..... that makes me better than you mentality

And we counter it with because I can do this/ build this, that makes me better than you response

I’m guilty of the later but I sure wouldn’t object if I were a member of the former.  Some of those guys make wonderful friends because we aren’t trying to take something from them we’re trying to have fun with them.  

 

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