nimblemotorsports Reader
1/23/20 8:45 p.m.

I am starting a new racing series in Northern California.   (If you race in norcal, please send me a message, I'd like your private feedback)

Something that I've been thinking about is open-wheel vs not-open-wheel (full body, what you call it??)

Open wheel racing seems a lot more dangerous than having the wheels protected, so why is it still so common/popular?

It seems to me open-wheel cars are cheaper to build, but maybe not.   

I am planning to build an electric race car that will run in my series, and have an open-wheel idea, but then I question if its too unsafe(r).



LanEvo GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/24/20 10:49 a.m.

Doesn't seem like a great idea to mix open-wheel and full-body cars

Tom1200 Dork
1/24/20 12:54 p.m.

As someone who just ran their very small formula car (F500) at a track day with large American cars (Mustang, Vettes, Camaros)and as someone running a sedan (Datsun 1200) in a run group that also has open wheel cars (Formula Vees), I will chime in on both mixing cars and the general safety of open wheeled cars.

When mixing cars the issues are as follows:

I'm not worried about getting "run over". Open wheelers are so much lighter that they will simply get punted out of the way. I've seen a Triumph Spitfire hit a Vee in the right rear as the Vee turned into a corner. The Spitfire driver misjudged the braking and the lighter Vee got punted off.  The issues come the driver your passing couldn't see your low car or getting drilled from behind because formula cars do no have brake lights.


If a formula car gets t-boned by a big production car the result is going to be worse than a normal t-bone. Getting T-boned in anything is bad and most formula cars do not have a lot of side impact protection. F500s have full width side pods as do Formula Mazdas. F-Vee, Formula Fords and Formula Continentals do not.  So you're now stuck with possibly allowing some open wheel cars and not others

If you are running on a track with lots of run off room than being shoved off is likely going to be no worse than if you went off road in a formula car all by yourself. Not that it's a good thing.

The General Safety issues and why the cars are still popular: 

Interlocking wheels isn't the major issue. People driving formula cars are aware of the vulnerability of the driver and drive accordingly (for the most part). The major saftey issue is simply that these cars are lightly built. Older tube frame formula cars only use 1' diameter tubing in many places so they are just not that stout. The newer generation of carbon tub cars (like Pro Mazdas) are very stout and pretty safe. For most formula cars there simply isn't going to be the kind of energy absorption you'll get in a modern production car. You really do not want to crash in these cars.

Now as to why they are still popular; I bought my F500 used and have $4500 in it, for that I get a car that pulls 2Gs and accelerates on par with 450-500hp road cars. My old D-sports racer (Yamaha 1000 powered single seater) was within 1 second a lap of the Trans-Am car lap record. You can buy an older D-sports for 10-20K. When you're driving a 1000-1200lb car on slicks it will do things no road car will do.  For what one would spend on a semi competitive Spec Miata you can buy a car that goes 10-15 seconds a lap faster. Once you get into something like an SCCA P1-P2 car or Pro Mazda no road car can approach the performance. Just take a look at the lap records for Sears/Sonoma, Thunderhill or Laguna as they will give you an idea why so many of us love single seat cars.

Single seaters need to be taken very seriously when you drive them so they're not for everyone but they are amazing to drive.

jimbbski SuperDork
1/24/20 3:17 p.m.

I drove an old FF at a Skippy school many years ago and after the very fun 3 days of shcool I promised myself never to sit in one again if I was going to go wheel-to-wheel.

I like a roof and body work around me. Heck I won't even ride a motorcycle. I race in the midwest and for the most part we don't mix  these cars with the possible exception  of Spec "Wreckers" and Spec "Pinatias" which I have seen share the track on occasion but they deserve each other anyway.

Most "sports racers" and formula cars are built to a "spec" which are very specific sets of rules that tell you what you can do and what your can't.

The means engines, tires, wheels, etc.  There are some classes where someone could build a car for that class from a pile of steel tubes but that's rare today for someone to be successful doing that.

Most of the "cheap" formula cars that I've seen for sale are usually uncompetitive or worn out and need a total rebuild. How is that cheap after you spend buckets of cash to rebuild the engine/trans, the shocks, suspension, etc.

Granted once you get one of these cars up and running they are not that expensive to race. I have a friend who races an old Formula Ford in "Club Ford" .

His engine is a few years old but still runs strong.  He does all his own  work other then the engine rebuilds and the major cost for him is tires after entry fees but he can still get a number of races from a set.


But I'll still stick with my "tin top" cars.  I like to stay dry when it rains! 


nimblemotorsports Reader
1/24/20 7:42 p.m.

I know from r/c racing, that the open wheel buggies crash out when the wheels touch vs the full body touring cars.

I could build a car either way frankly, but it seems open-wheel are lighter without all the extra bodywork.

I was thinking of the Legends car, which actually have fenders, but don't cover the tires any significant amount.

See the recent 'pickle' car, which is an open-wheel hotrod.

nimblemotorsports Reader
1/27/20 11:00 p.m.

Been watching videos on these Legend cars, and caught this one that shows one running right up onto the rear wheel,

which if solid fenders would probably just stop/smash?


_ Dork
1/27/20 11:04 p.m.

In reply to nimblemotorsports :

If you have to ask, you likely aren't qualified to "start" a racing series. Not trying to be a dick, just pointing out what's likely.

_ Dork
1/27/20 11:07 p.m.

Tom1200 Dork
1/28/20 11:33 a.m.

Comparing bull ring circle track racing to open wheel road racing is not really a valid comparison.

If you've been around club racing long enough you've likely seen open wheel cars tangle but cars actually being launched is rare. Most drivers of open wheel cars are mindful of their vulnerability and drive accordingly. Stop watching the Formula Ford Festival highlights. As open wheel driver I'm way more concerned about tagging a wall feet first or being t-boned than I am going airborne. Bouncing along on the pavement is ways less traumatic then a sudden stop. 

My concern as an organizer would be more about the types of open wheel cars than anything else. I've seen Legend cars on a road course and some of the guys still drive like they're on a bull ring. Formula Ford guys aren't looking to bump their way by.

I've always looked at it this way; you are much more likely to have a contact/be in a crash in a sedan but when you do crash in a sedan there is a lot more protection (by virtue of having more structure to crush). I came from road racing motorcycles so an open wheel car is a huge step up in safety.  

nimblemotorsports Reader
1/28/20 2:05 p.m.

For the new racing series, the electric cars are only running Time Attack and not wheel-to-wheel racing,

But eventually they will be running wheel-to-wheel.   

The roundy-round speeds are usually much lower than road racing, but they do run these Legend cars on road courses too.

I think they are much too narrow for road racing.   Maybe widen them and less fenders but wheels tucked in?

The point is to get a lightweight car so less batteries.

Don't they race the Ariel Atoms too?    You'd call that open wheel?


_ Dork
1/28/20 2:19 p.m.

In reply to nimblemotorsports :

With fiberglass or carbon bodywork it may as well be open wheel. There's no structure to keep wheels from colliding. And when wheels collide it turns into 1/4 midgets or f1 with airborne vehicles and life flights and funerals.

nimblemotorsports Reader
1/28/20 8:25 p.m.

In reply to nimblemotorsports :

Looks like they take the fenders off when racing..


Found 2011 Posting from Judge Phil.

"After the Cavalier bashed the wall and flipped at the first Infineon race in March '10, Jay started strict enforcement of the "Three Black Flags = Three Hour Timeout" rule (sometimes it's four flags, if a race session is especially long and/or crowded). Prior to that time, it was pretty common to have one or two rollovers per race (I think five was the record, set during a rainy MSR event). In fact, we had rollovers in the majority of races prior to the March '10 Infineon event."


Tom1200 Dork
1/29/20 11:25 a.m.

@_dork  the front wing on the Ariel is going to make contact before the wheels do, the mini side pods also make it very difficult for these cars to interlock wheels. At Saturday night oval track, especially on dirt,  open wheel cars do commonly get launched. Road racing the is a very different story; especially amateur events. Formula Fords are not built like TQ Midgets/dirt cars; I've seen Fords suffer severe damage from simply dropping a wheel in a chuck hole, the owners/drivers are keenly aware of this and take far less chances then one would in a sedan. From my experience the likelihood of your Formula car being launched into orbit isn't the concern it's often made out to be. Again I'd be worried about contact with a solid object

As for Ariels being open wheel cars; technically no as most track days allow them because they have fenders. My local PCA track day events allow Exocets but they have to have fenders, this leads me to believe it's an insurance thing.

Also note most open wheel cars do not have that much space in them. In my F500 the suspension pick up points are actually in the cockpit (right next to your ankle), the 1' frame tubes are only covered by 3/4" of impact foam, you have to slide your feet under and past the steering rack to get to the pedals. I do not drive it with anywhere near the abandon I do with the Datsun.

I totally understand on lighter car less batteries, that makes sense. If I were making a car I'd be inclined to do an Ariel, Exocet or Lotus 7 type car. Spec Racer Fords are built like tanks if you could do a open wheel version like that you'd be able to mitigate most of the issues with single seaters.


nimblemotorsports Reader
2/1/20 4:29 p.m.

Look what I dragged home today:    However, me thinks a 914-ish clone might be the best car.   

That said, these tiny 34 fords are ultra cool, who wouldn't want one?


T.J. MegaDork
2/1/20 9:52 p.m.

I like it when a thread takes an unexpected turn. 

nimblemotorsports Reader
2/5/20 12:59 p.m.

Thought I'd post this video of legends road racing, they get some pretty fast top speeds on a road course.  They are really pushing their traction limits,

makes for exciting racing.. 

Tom1200 Dork
2/5/20 5:47 p.m.

Contrast that with the link below and you'll see why so many of us love single seat formula cars.

Note I do think Legends cars are pretty cool I just like formula cars better.

nimblemotorsports Reader
2/6/20 1:13 a.m.

Very different indeed.  I did not see any passing for 25 minutes.  140mph is scary fast.

The 240tw street tires (Federal 595) required for the Legends makes them traction limited,

and I think that makes the racing more fun (and cheaper), which is our goal for the new series.

We are going with 200+tw for now, but next year it will be 240+.   

Carbon UltraDork
2/6/20 6:03 a.m.

I want a street legal legend car so bad.  

frenchyd PowerDork
2/6/20 6:27 a.m.
_ said:

In reply to nimblemotorsports :

With fiberglass or carbon bodywork it may as well be open wheel. There's no structure to keep wheels from colliding. And when wheels collide it turns into 1/4 midgets or f1 with airborne vehicles and life flights and funerals.

Corvettes are fiberglass cars. Carbon fiber is merely a stronger, lighter version.  I think you need to actually have some experience or knowledge before you make such a sweeping statement which isn't valid. 

chaparral Dork
2/6/20 6:57 a.m.

Forza 6 allows you to mix open-wheeled and full size closed bodied cars - try running a Formula Mazda against NASCAR stockers or vice versa to see the issues. 

Tom1200 Dork
2/6/20 10:51 a.m.

@nimblemotorsports I'm also a fan of dreaded treaded tires, which is why I also have the Datsun. 4 wheel drifty goodness is indeed loads of fun. The Legends cars do combine a bit of both so it's a good concept.

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