BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/11/16 10:08 a.m.

To set the scene, I've changed jobs recently and have moved from an office-based software engineering job to a customer facing consulting role that will involved a lot of travel. Like, away from home for 4-5 nights almost every week type travel. Oh, and we also expect to move (most likely to the PNW) in the next few years. Timing of that depends very much on how quickly the consulting business picks up there, though, but I'm guessing the time horizon is something like 2-3 years. At that point I'd like to move the fleet without having to hire someone with an 18 wheeler car transporter just for the fleet.

Obviously that'll seriously cut into my wrenching and general project time, although it shouldn't normally cut into "fun time" during weekends - everything I've seen and heard suggests they're very dilligent about making sure people are home for the weekend.

Oh, and I'm also a physical away from a regional race license, so there'll be a properly prepared race car in the not too distant future.

At the moment I have the (in)famous 996, an ND, an RX8, a truck and a bunch of motorcycles. The 996 is likely a keeper (my wife uses it in the summer as well), the RX8 is my current track car and occasional runabout, the ND, well, sits a lot when it's not used as a fun car with some commutes thrown in. The truck (an early 90s F150) is what I call my "home owner" truck for runs to the dump and Lowes Depot, plus I currently use it as my airport car because I haven't got all seasons or snows on the RX8.

What I need car wise is slightly different:

  • A trackable car can potentially can do double duty as the airport car. That includes driving down to Sonoma, Thunderhill or Laguna Seca with a second full set of tires in the car, all the track junk including helmet etc and enough clothing for a week. The RX8 only partially fulfills that requirement right now and falls down on the ability to carry a set of wheels w/ tires and all the other assorted junk in a manner than I can still pull into a client's car park and don't look like I robbed a tire store. Budget for this is only about what I have in the RX8, let's call it $4k-$8k. At this point I'm looking for relatively simple to wrench on with good to very good aftermarket.
  • A race car - I'm thinking sports racer or formula car (I'd really like a Formula Mazda). Formula car also rules out taking it to track days, hence 1).
  • A tow rig. I currently have a '92 F150 with a 351 and even though it appears to be set up for towing (it's got a 7500lbs hitch, additional trans coolers and a rebuild trans), towing motorcycles across the Sierra on a U-Haul trailer is already a struggle. I don't want to know what towing a race car even on an open trailer is going to be like, so I'm currently thinking mid-90s F250 with either a 460 or the 7.3L Diesel or maybe a 3/4 ton Dodge with a Cummins in it. Budget for the tow rig is about $8k, with a hard cap at $10k. I know that'll buy me a leggy Cummins, 7.3L Diesel or V10 Ford 4x4 and leaves a bunch of room if I looked at F250/350s with 460s.

For the trackable car I'm thinking something hatchback-ish to get all the junk in. I guess sticking the wheels on a roof rack might work, but it's not ideal if/when I am on a multi-day trip in Silicon Valley combining work with pleasure as I'd be concerned about people deciding they really need my wheels more than I do. That combination also rules out towing the trackable car down there if I'm there all week, although it'd be amusing once to hand the keys to the whole shebang to the valet parking guys at some of the clients' places...


Huckleberry MegaDork
12/11/16 10:20 a.m.

Trackable car that fits tires inside: E36, preferably M3. E46, preferably M3. They still run with the big dogs with just a little suspension and weight redux and are as comfortable or terrible as you make them to go faster.

Race car: SRF because... SRF

Tow rig: Any modern truck with a weight distribution hitch. The less you want to pay attention to it the bigger you need. I sold a 2500HD Duramax diesel that pulled 10k lbs on cruise while I napped and am now towing with a 2017 6cyl Tacoma. It moved a 3600lb car on an open trailer safely but not so as you didn't have to pay attention to the next hill. It would pull an SRF or Miata like nothing. What do you really need?

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/11/16 10:46 a.m.

In reply to Huckleberry:

SRF is on the radar, I'm planning to rent one next year for an event to see how much I like it. I know I like the FM, I drove one at Bondurant and something just clicked in the way that the Viper I drove there didn't. I do like the Viper though, but the FM is on a different level.

Re the tow rig, I just realized I forgot to add a budget to that. I'll fix that in a sec, but for that I really only have about 8k-10k to play with as an absolute max.

What I really need for a tow rig? Well, I have to tow over the Sierra Nevada to get to the closest tracks, which means towing over passes that are 7200'-8000'. The F150 eventually gets up the pass, but going down at least with a trailer that doesn't have electric brakes was a little too much for the brakes IMHO. And that was when pulling an estimated 1200lbs. I do make use of the full size long bed on the F150 surprisingly often, too, so that's something I'd like to keep.

Re the M3 - the last few trackdays I went to, I was surrounded by them. It does however look like they're not a big improvement over the RX8 in the tire carrying capacity - I can get 4 wheels and tires into the RX8, but only if I put a whole bunch of assorted junk in front of or on the passenger seat. M3 seems to be the same or very similar. That's why I was thinking hatchback (maybe of the variety that requires a "VTEC YO" personalised plate). Oh, and M3s worth having out here tend to be out of my budget.

Huckleberry MegaDork
12/11/16 10:56 a.m.

Put brakes on your trailer and change the final drive ratio of your truck. Done.

Now you have an extra $7k for the other 2 categories.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/11/16 11:03 a.m.

In reply to Huckleberry:

I'd need to buy a trailer first though . At the moment they're all rented, but yes, if/when I buy a trailer it will have electrical brakes - the truck is already wired for a brake controller. The truck is 4x4 so changing the final drive is going to be a little more expensive.

Jcamper Reader
12/11/16 12:57 p.m.

Since you are coming to the PNW I would say SpecE46 for a race car. I race PRO-3 and love it, but folks seem to be moving on to SpecE46 a bit? Allows you racing in SCCA and ICSCC, could use the e46 as a street/track car while you built it up maybe?

intrepid New Reader
12/11/16 1:10 p.m.

I continue to recommend club ford as a great class for amateur racers interested in open wheel cars. You can race both vintage and SCCA, the class remains popular throughout the west coast and midwest (somewhat less on the east coast), and good cars are readily available for 15K or, in some cases, even less. Not as fast as FM, but fast enough to be fun and challenging, and the racing is generally intense throughout the fields.

The cars are easy to set up and drive like real race cars. I've posted this link before, but Peter Egan is a real advocate as well...

BTW, many open wheel cars are sold with a trailer, so I wouldn't necessarily feel compelled to buy one first...

-chris r.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/11/16 6:48 p.m.

CF sounds interesting, thanks for the suggestion. I might also consider FV, although the parts situation there concerns me a bit.

In reply to Jcamper:

Not really interested in a street car converted for race use, more interested in a purpose built car. And I know better than to convert a street car to a race car, especially with the lack of spare time. Any money if I had to pay someone to do the work .

Jcamper Reader
12/11/16 7:27 p.m.

I understand where you are coming from, but I would say you have 4 real options for deep fields in road racing in the northwest, and SRF is not one of them. Spec Miata, PRO-3, soon SpecE46, and finally GASS (stock cars). Racing seems pointless when just a few cars in your class show up.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/14/16 8:45 p.m.

In reply to Jcamper:

I hear you, although I'm used to running time trials in classes with few participants. That said I'm not sure if I'm willing to make a car choice right now based on a potential move a year or two in the future.

My bigger problem is to figure out what to do with my current fleet. I like most of the cars I have most of the time (ie, when I'm not trying to fix them), but I'm not madly in love with them.

G_Body_Man SuperDork
12/14/16 9:11 p.m.

For the trackable/airport car, what about an E39 540i/6?

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/14/16 9:25 p.m.

I don't like BMWs. I owned a bunch of them, still don't like them.

chaparral Dork
12/15/16 10:39 a.m.

I think your track car should be a kart. That'll simplify the towing/hauling.

KyAllroad UberDork
12/15/16 12:56 p.m.

Keep the ND as a weekend toy/commuter. Sell the RX-8 and embrace towing a dedicated Spec-Miata on a shiney new aluminum trailer. Spend the savings on consumables.

drdisque HalfDork
12/15/16 2:53 p.m.

For the trackable airport car - how about an EF Hatch or EG Hatch (preferably one already built by someone without a flat brimmed hat). Just make sure it gets frequent carwashes until you move to the PNW.

octavious HalfDork
12/15/16 3:22 p.m.

Tell me about this 996. Lol.

I think the toughest would be a trackabke car you can cram stuff in and still show up at a clients place. Could you time the racing and work separately? Then you could have a dedicated track car and do whatever you wanted with the work car and hauler.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/17/16 12:35 p.m.
drdisque wrote: For the trackable airport car - how about an EF Hatch or EG Hatch (preferably one already built by someone without a flat brimmed hat). Just make sure it gets frequent carwashes until you move to the PNW.

EF and EG hatches are on the radar. I'd also consider an R56 Cooper S, drove a few and really liked them. Not sure where the frequent car washes come in though? I live in the desert in Northern NV, rust is something we get after the sun burnt through the paint .

octavious wrote: Tell me about this 996. Lol. I think the toughest would be a trackabke car you can cram stuff in and still show up at a clients place. Could you time the racing and work separately? Then you could have a dedicated track car and do whatever you wanted with the work car and hauler.

I believe I've mentioned this 996 often enough that it even has its own thread .

Regarding the track car/work car/hauler situation - the racing part will be timed separately anyway. The trackable street car comes in when I have engagements in the Bay Area (say Mon-Thu) and Friday there's a track day at Laguna Seca or Sonoma. In that case I'd rather carry my stuff down there and hit the track day on the way home. That's a scenario that's not really possible otherwise. A lot of companies in the Bay Area don't even have dedicated parking and the ones that do might take bit of an issue with me showing up with a full size truck pulling a 24' trailer.

There is one other scenario I'm considering, which would be to sell both the RX8 and the ND, then get a 911 SC or C3.2 to replace both and use that as the trackable car.

GTwannaB GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
12/17/16 1:34 p.m.

RSX type S. Presentable hatchback. But if you clients are in SF instead of Silicon Valley save your window replacement and just hand your race wheels over to the street punks.

GTwannaB GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
12/17/16 1:35 p.m.

Or SVT Focus. Biased suggestion but plenty of room for stuff.

docwyte Dork
12/17/16 4:18 p.m.

You keep turning down the BEST track/airport car in your budget. Dude, just buy an E36 M3 already!! Step on over from the Dark Side and join all of us in the Light.

They're nice, they hold lots of stuff, they have a huge aftermarket, they're really easy to work on, they're shockingly fast on track and oh yeah, they look nice when you pull into a clients parking lot or need to take one out to lunch.

All in a package that you can easily buy for under $10k.

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