CLynn85 HalfDork
1/22/18 7:25 p.m.

Quick backstory - I've been driving legally for 16 years now, and involved in a ton of different motorsports, drag, autox, rallyx, stage rally, lemons, etc, but for some reason have never made it to just open track days. I decided to give that a try this year and started signing up for events like crazy, first one in a month and a half. 

The problem - I don't know what car to use. Our lemons car is too sketchy/slow (70 Plymouth /6), My project truck is too janky, my DD Vic is Janky and an automatic, and my toy car is too nice (2012 C6 Grand Sport). 

The 'vette makes the  most sense, I guess, but I'm afraid of the cost of wear parts, brakes, tires, etc, and it's kind of too nice to beat up on a track. I also feel like I should start in a lower HP car rather than being one of those losers that shows up in a performance car and then doddles around the track.

Do I just buy another Miata and have an expendable track rat? OR will that be too far of a jump down and I'll be cursing all the way down the back straight at VIR? 

The Vette in question:

(The fake ZR1 lip was on it when I bought it and gone now)

codrus GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/22/18 7:41 p.m.

If you have the budget and space, a Miata, E30, or E36 is a great starting track car.  The 'vette would do fine, but, as you noticed, has higher consumable costs and may generate some anxiety relating to walls.  There is specialty track day insurance available, but that adds even more cost.


Jaynen SuperDork
1/22/18 7:49 p.m.

A little forced induction and your miata won't have to flag half the field by everytime you hit the back straight at VIR. That being said it's always fun to make them let you pass on the front straight or at the esses because you are out turning them. Your vette looks too nice to me to use as a track rat. And consumables are much much more expensive.

New race pads and rotors for the miata are like 300 bucks

New set of HPDE/Race tires less than 500 bucks

New set for a vette is closer to 1500-2k

Are you going to THSCC at Vir in Feb?

CLynn85 HalfDork
1/22/18 8:18 p.m.

NASA VIR in March. Didn't realize THSCC did HPDE's, will have to look into that!

Other options I considered were a Toyota 86, but that's stretching the price range and not adding much HP, or a SN95 or S197 Mustang.

I know E30's and E36's are logical choices, but I've just never been able to like them, and I am totally biased against them thanks to all the a-hole drivers with them in the Jersey Lemons races!

I did get a quote for track-day insurance and surprisingly it wasn't as bad as I thought, ~$250 for a weekend of coverage, but with a $3k deductible!

dannyzabolotny Reader
1/22/18 10:28 p.m.

The SN-95 is a good cheap track beater but it's a bit sloppy. On the bright side, there's a robust aftermarket for them and you can upgrade them as your skills improve. I'd go for a 94-95 Coupe 5-speed, as that gets you the legendary Ford 302 which is a robust motor with a lot of performance upgrades available for when you need more power.

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
1/22/18 11:00 p.m.

A cheap miata with baseline maintenance up to date, fresh brake fluid and good pads is a really great way to start track days. It will take you a while to be able to drive it at 10/10, which will buy you time to figure out whether you really want a faster car. 

jr02518 Reader
1/23/18 12:10 a.m.

I have found the world of driving at a HPDE one of searching for "more".  Staring with the brakes. and before that, fresh fluids.  All of them.

The first year it was a 1982 BMW 320is, next year a 1994 BMW 325is and for the last two years a 1999 BMW Z3 M Coupe.  This last event the car had a supercharger.

The event I drove on one of those extremely hot California central valley weekends was in a 2017 Camaro SS with the automatic on the run flats.  The newer vets struggled with the heat, tripping into limp mode.  Other than wishing for a set of RE71's the Camaro was outstanding. 

I would also admit to letting the car shift on it's own and on those stock tires it was more comfortable with the nannies on than turned on than off.  The stock Brembo's, were as good as they are advertised.  The tires, truly limit the car.  Learning to track the car with the auto, could take some time.  More, time.


Blaise Reader
1/23/18 6:08 a.m.

Just get a Miata.

I never had an issue with power in DE2 with getting around Vipers/Vettes/etc. Once you’re in DE3 everybody knows better than to park it in turns and blow your doors off in the straight.

Even DE1, it’s the right choice. I started last year and did 20 events and I am SO glad I did it in a Miata. I learned faster and spent much less, while not needing to compromise on safety gear to keep the car streetable.

I went from DE1 to DE3 in a season. It’s been a  dream realized. Welcome to the the fun :) 

Just be sure you have a seat, harness, hans, and proper roll bar in the Miata. 


frenchyd Dork
1/23/18 6:39 a.m.

In reply to CLynn85 :

I’m not sure why you’d think your Corvette is too nice.  As a life long racer I’ve worked tirelessly to make my cars as nice as possible.  Well turned out cars always get a lot of compliments.  

As you know you control your car even on a race track. You should only go as fast as you feel comfortable.  That’s the only way to insure yourself from having an accident. 

But yes accidents beyond your control can happen. I had one accident in my racing career in spite of driving a powerful, light, short wheelbase car through most of it.  The repair took me almost 15 minutes to fix. ( but I was rather casual about it) 

Ask yourself if in the past speed events. We’re you involved in accidents?  That’s your answer. 

Having said all that a Miata is a good learning tool.  Do you need to learn?   If so getting one ready to race is going to cost as much or more as it took to get your Lemons car ready. 

Then you will be one of a bunch. Part of the herd. Be sure to paint it wildly different so you don’t accidentally get in the wrong one. 

Adrift Reader
1/23/18 9:04 p.m.

Use the Vette.  With your experience I'm sure you won't be doddleling after a few laps.

Yes, the consumables will be cheaper with a Miata.  However, there will still be consumables plus the price of a Miata.  And the cost of getting it up to speed with at least a rollbar. 

With the Vette you only have consumables.

The Miata would be fine in DE1, but you will probably move up quickly.  Although it's been more than 5 years since I've done a HPDE, the horsepower war (primarily a function of the manufacturer horsepower war) was already in force.  It's probably worse now.

If after trying a few events you really catch the HPDE bug, then consider a track car.  Since you are already doing wheel to wheel racing, HPDE may not "scratch your itch"


LanEvo HalfDork
1/24/18 2:48 a.m.

I can’t see the logic of buying a car just to do a handful of HPDE events. If you have a car you already enjoy driving, just use that. All you need is something reliable. I’ve done HPDE weekends in my then-girlfriend’s Mazda 3 winter beater, a Mustang V6 auto rental car, and my old Mercedes 560SL grandpa car. 

steronz Reader
1/24/18 11:30 a.m.

The back straight at VIR does indeed suck in a Miata, but, well, you just kind of deal with it.  It also sucks to be feathering the throttle in a Corvette through the climbing esses because you're scared E36 M3less to give it any more because you're already doing 100mph, and feeling lame because there's a 1.6 Miata stuck to your ass. 

That said, I agree with LanEvo, and I always say the best car to take to the track is whatever you have that works.  If you buy a Miata you'll have just a few weeks to make sure it's track worthy.  Long term it might be a better option, but for your first event, I see no harm in doddling through the corners and blasting down the straights.

GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/24/18 12:06 p.m.

Who are you saving the Corvette for? There's no such thing as a car too nice to drive on track IMO, although a car could be too expensive, and a Corvette could easily qualify for that, with its big expensive tires and brakes and achey-breaky wheel bearings (there are upgraded bearing & hub assemblies available, but they're REALLY not cheap).

If it's too expensive, take the LeMons car.

84FSP Dork
1/24/18 12:39 p.m.

Vette!  Learn to drive your toy at the limit and listen to that little voice telling you it's time to relax when necessary.  That thing is meant for it!

I want to know why Cooter is about tow away the General Lee in that pic of your Vette...

frenchyd Dork
1/26/18 10:48 p.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH :

I agree with gamebourmh what are you saving the Corvette for?

Back when I raced my Corvette I knew I didn’t have the fastest one because I had the absolute cheapest one.  I went out on old cheap tires.  I got one last race from a used up engine. My suspension benefited  from whatever I could do to improve it as long as it didn’t cost money.  

OK so once in a while I still wound up on the podium. Just because others blew up engines or ruined parts.  

I still drove as hard and as fast as I could.  It still was fun and better than the guys in slower cars. 

Yes a Miata is a slower car than a Corvette.  Now all you have to do is figure out how to race on what it would cost you to buy prepare and race a Miata. Hey!  You already own the Corvette!  I’ll bet the price of a prepared Miata will buy you a lot of tires brakes and other stuff

759NRNG Dork
1/27/18 8:57 a.m.
84FSP said:

Vette!  Learn to drive your toy at the limit and listen to that little voice telling you it's time to relax when necessary.  That thing is meant for it!

This right'll regret it in the long run......

GroupSects New Reader
1/27/18 9:13 a.m.

I ran a few DEs last year in an open top NC with a transformer bar/heavy aero penalty. Only place I wished I had more power/the ability to go faster than 105mph was Watkins Glen. VIR, Summit Point, NJMP, even Pocono were all tons of fun. 

Also that car was/is worth more than I could get my head around walking away from if I wadded it up so I ran with track day insurance. The main issue is that there's a bunch of sub deductible stuff that happens every event, rock chips, windshields, underbody stuff from an off, etc. I don't think I'd be comfortable taking something much nicer than that car out unless I was planning on never selling it.

I'd do the lemons car for an event or two and see how you feel about the vette/Miata. You won't cause any issues at all in DE1. I've been to a few events with a guy running in a 05ish Corolla on all seasons, everyone thought it was awesome.

Sanchinguy Reader
1/27/18 9:27 a.m.

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