Aug. 10, 2009 10:09 p.m.

Hey guys, just looking for some advice on a racing class to get started in. I'm the CA Bay Area so the NASA Nor Cal and SCCA Northern Pacific region is where I'd be participating.

I've gotten a lot of experience in through karting and track days, but no true wheel-to-wheel experience. I know that I have good car control and driving skills but of course "good" isn't good enough in competition so I guess I'll find out soon truly how good I am. Long story short I basically now have a sponsor who is being very generous in helping me get started in racing. He hasn't set a budget or any specific requirements, but obviously being as low cost and easy to participate in as possible is the goal.

I've been leaning heavily towards NASA Spec E30 because I like the cars, participation looks pretty good, and being one of the Spec series' the cost is probably reasonable as far as racing goes. I'm definitely not set on SE30 though and open to ideas. I know there are the non-spec classes that you can usually class any car into but I've been having trouble finding solid information on those. Can anyone provide some good info on those classes?

What suggestions and advice can you guys offer? Thanks!

confuZion3 SuperDork
Aug. 10, 2009 11:11 p.m.

Spec Miata. Buy an already-built car and go have fun. I tried to build one. My biggest problem was that it was too damn good of a street car, so I accidentally built a time trials car / street carver.

ReverendDexter HalfDork
Aug. 11, 2009 12:07 a.m.

Spec Miata, or maybe CMC/American Iron/AIX depending on what/how you want to drive.

For your comp license, my understanding is that it's better to go through the SCCA process, as NASA recognizes SCCA licences, but not vice-versa. You'll definitely want to double check that info, though.

Salanis SuperDork
Aug. 11, 2009 12:15 a.m.

Lots of options.

I'm in a similar boat, and thinking I want to do 944 Spec. Basically, RWD spec car with a good chassis, and noticeably less expensive than SE30 or SM. Most importantly, I really like the guys, and my local Porsche club. They seem friendly with their priorities in a similar place to mine.

Spec E30 or Spec Miata are all good too.

There's also Honda challenge. That's inexpensive and easy to get into. There's a little bit more leeway in the rulebook.

My best advice came from this board: Go to an (NASA) event. Hang out with the different groups in the paddock between races and just chat and hang out with the guys there. Pick your series based on the community you most want to be a part of.

CLNSC3 New Reader
Aug. 11, 2009 1:44 a.m.

I am also looking into getting into my first year of wheel to wheel racing in either the 2010 or 2011 season.

I have been looking hard at two classes with the ICSCC up here in the NW, both Pro3 and Pro7. Pro3 is e30 BMWs and Pro7 is the 1st gen rx7. Those are a couple of other classes that you could consider if they have similar classes in SCCA or NASA. I have also been thinking about spec 944.

I am still doing research and I am looking forward to other peoples responses to your question!

Good luck!

Aug. 11, 2009 3:21 a.m.

How many cubic dollars do you have to spend? Spec Miata is a good choice, because you can pick up a ratty one cheap (and clean it up if you can do the work), and it runs in SCCA and NASA.

SCCA Improved Touring might be another choice, if you stay away from the big displacement classes (A & S)..the rules creep over the last 10yr means you won't be fast, but it also means older cars are cheap, as the ambitious people abandon the class (ironically, usually to go Spec Miata!). You might be able to find a legal (but slow) ITB or ITC car for less than $3K.

IIRC, there's a guy here on the boards that just picked up two ITB VW Golfs for $5K..including spares.

aussiesmg Dork
Aug. 11, 2009 7:31 a.m.

One of the most inexpensive classes is the CMC with NASA, on the other hand one of the most expensive is American Iron.

I recommend CMC but I am biased.

ddavidv SuperDork
Aug. 11, 2009 4:44 p.m.

I would start in a 'slower' class. The expenditure and learning curve of a CMC or AI car is going to be expensive.

SM or SE30, either way you really can't go wrong. Pro3 is pretty popular in the PNW only. I don't get how Salanis gets the impression Spec 944 is cheaper than the other two...there's no way maintaining a E30 is going to be more expensive than a 944, and the build requirements are pretty much the same.

SM is by far the most popular class and you can run with both SCCA and NASA whereas the other classes really don't offer competition outside of NASA, though BMWCCA does now recognize SE30 but in a non-competitive class.

SCCA and NASA both have reciprocal licenses now. IMO, NASA's progressive licensing program is superior to the SCCA method and makes for a better, safer driver. But that's my opinion, and I'm sure some SCCAer will disagree.

You must go to the races, talk to the racers, price the cars (try not to build one if at all possible) and hang out on their forums to see what kind of people they are and if you'll be a good fit.

aussiesmg Dork
Aug. 11, 2009 5:20 p.m.

CMC is not expensive, it is a spec class and you can build a competitive car for less than $10K, you can buy a car for half that.

fiat22turbo SuperDork
Aug. 11, 2009 6:36 p.m.

I've always been told that while any of the Spec door slammer classes are a good start, that starting with a low powered open wheeled racer is a better place to learn car control. Specifically, Formula Vee or Formula 500. Vee's are so basic it is a doddle to maintain and they are all about momentum and speed conservation. 440/500's are essentially snowmobile powered Karts (larger and with suspension)

Spec Miata in some areas (not sure about your area) turns into Spec Pinata where the drivers are taking bump-passing to a new low. Not sure about Spec E30 or Spec 944, around here the classes seem smaller and a bit more behaved.

Aug. 12, 2009 3:18 a.m.
aussiesmg wrote: CMC is not expensive, it is a spec class and you can build a competitive car for less than $10K, you can buy a car for half that.

CMC? Great class, but do you really want that much power when you're a novice? Even a CMC car still has a big V8. Yeah, big power can cover up a lot of mistakes during a lap...but it can get you into "big trouble" a lot quicker, too.

ddavidv SuperDork
Aug. 12, 2009 5:19 a.m.

In reply to aussiesmg: Completely missed the point I was making. Bulding the car is not the expensive part. Running costs compared to SM or similar classes are. Tires are much larger, thus more expensive and you'll got through them faster carting around all that weight and horsepower. Ditto cltuches, brakes and yes, fuel. I don't believe starting out racing/tracking in a powerful V-8 car is a good way to learn race craft. It masks a lot of mistakes and creates bad habits. Learning to drive a momentum car has great long term benefits.

Salanis SuperDork
Aug. 13, 2009 12:08 a.m.
ddavidv wrote: I don't get how Salanis gets the impression Spec 944 is cheaper than the other two...there's no way maintaining a E30 is going to be more expensive than a 944, and the build requirements are pretty much the same.

Cars are much cheaper for 944 Spec than SM or SE30. In solid condition I have been watching 944 Spec cars go for $5.5-$8k. Solid SM seem to start around $9k for 91s, and SE30 is roughly the same price as the SM, but with the top-level prices lower.

944 parts cars are also plentiful and inexpensive.

In this region, the 944 guys tend to be less aggressive and swap paint less than SM. They also seem to be really friendly and more than willing to pitch in to help all their fellow competitors out.

Overall, I don't think there will be a huge price discrepancy. So, like I said, pick the group that you most like the folks you'll be hanging out with.

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