Has anyone here participated in auto racing at any level?

Is there anyone here who has formally competed at any level of racing, whether it’s karting, Formula Vee, Formula Ford, or any SCCA class or form of stock car racing?

How long did it take from the initial entry level to earn the license and achieve a degree of competence? Were you backed by a team or a small crew or did you do it all yourself? And what was the financial investment, both up-front and over time?

I earned my user name the hard way. I competed at local short tracks starting in 1982, my last time was in 1992. Most of the time I raced it was in the lower classes of cars, hobby stocks, bombers. These are basically a street legal car stripped down and minimal safety equipment added. I also drove in a 4 cylinder class for part of the season. Drove a Chevy Vega, after blowing up an engine for the 6th time, I parked that car. I also drove figure eight cars for a couple years.

My first race car was a 69 Plymouth Satellite. It had a 440 in it and could be scary to drive sometimes. That winter I bought a 66 Dodge Charger, it had a 426 hemi under the hood. Sold the hemi and dropped in the 440. Totaled that car when I rolled it 3 times. Best car I ever had was a 69 Chevy Nova. Bought it as a decent car to drive on the road but that didn’t last long. Pulled the 6 cylinder engine and dropped in a Frankenstein engine, 4 bolt 350 block, 327 fuelie crank with rods and pistons from an old NASCAR Winston West engine. The heads were from the fuelie engine that was originally in a 64 Corvette. It spec’d at 331 cubic inches. I had lots of success in that car winning many main events and finished 3rd in points despite missing the first 5 races that season. That motor self grenaded itself the next year when I used it in a figure 8 car.
I spent most of my time racing at now gone Spanaway Speedway. I lived only 7 miles from the track. I also competed at South Sound Speedway for a couple years. Other tracks I drove at included Evergreen Speedway, East Wenatchee Super Oval and once at Elma on a dirt track.

The last year I drove full time was 1989. I raced 2 cars at 3 different tracks. I built and maintained the cars by myself, a cousin would sometimes help. I was also working a full time job too. By the end of the season I was exhausted. I decided to take a year off and that turned into just a few appearances driving a buddy’s car after he hurt himself.

Looking back I’m glad I did it. Sometimes I like to think I had the talent to have competed in higher levels but I never had the money to do so. I also think I was a bit short in the talent area too.

Back in the day my husband, his BFF and their BFF#2 had dirt stock cars. AFAIK the only license my husband had was his driving license.

Their first car was a Torino they modified. The next car was one they built from the chassis up.

With the Torino he won his first 3 hot laps but always lost the real races. I asked him why he faded away and he finally admitted his arms were just too tired by the end of the race. I inquired if there was a leak or something with the power steering (I don’t know much about cars). Turns out there was a problem which, after being fixed, lead to a few checkered flags.

The next car body was “gifted” to (sold at a minimum) them from his ex-FIL who also raced (top class/open wheel modified vs stock car). They also were able to get NASCAR stuff through the ex-FIL so enjoyed a few wins.

The team was DH, his BFF and their BFF (now and then during the week but always at the pit) and occasional help from other guys who would stop by their 2 car garage. They had everything stuffed into that garage plus a '68 drag mustang (which the BFF still owns). My role was to sit around reading books, hand a tool now and then and to be the designated driver on the all night work-a-thons which involved them drinking copious amounts of keg beer.

They were sponsored by the neighborhood bar and a few tool places. But otherwise they started out as 2 young bachelors who preferred spending their money on cars. They did drag racing for a couple of years, off road buggying and then switched to dirt circle racing. They stopped racing when we had 2 kids and needed a new house (landlord was selling it). We ended up moving 50 miles away from the BFF. 2 years later he moved 10 miles away from us, put up a pole building and they were back in the car tinkering business.

They have more tools than any normal garage because they do it all: body work, wiring, engine building and tire fixing, … but only for our personal vehicles. Plus the home fixing tools. They own everything 50/50. Whoever dies first the other gets the stuff. I already warned them if I am the last one standing I’ll be throwing a garage sale with everything marked $.50 which, considering the rarity of some of their stuff and the cost they have sunk over the last 30 years… they laugh.

Their motto has always been “He who dies with the most toys, wins!” They have a lot of toys. Dune buggies, mini bikes, antique tractors are their thing now. The need for speed subsided but they both have oil in their veins and dirt in their noses.

I did V and some other SCCA stuff and quite a bit of PHA (Pennsylvania Hillclimb) ---- not as much as another branch of the family though. Motorcycles were always more my thing. Back in the day it wasn’t that expensive to be somewhat competitive (depending on the class) and living within spitting distance of both Pocono and Watkin’s Glen helped as well.

I started in SOLO II which is one car on the course at a time in an autocross. The courses can range from a large parking lot to real race courses and even airports. I began in 1969 with my Triumph GT6. There are classes for stock sports cars and sedans through race prepped to specially built cars. By 1974 I was running a Tojeiro formula B in A modified, the fastest class, and managed a 3rd in the national championship. That was held on the abandoned Air Force base in Salina, Kansas.

I then went into SCCA sedan racing with a B sedan Pinto (don’t laugh, it was fast). It took most of a summer to get through the driver’s schools and novice races and get enough finishes for a national license. I raced against Paul Neuman a couple of times. Of course his car weighed less and had nearly 100 more horsepower then my home built. Paul was the national champion in B sedan back then.

Everything I raced I built with my own hands.

Dennis

Damn, thanks everyone for responding.

I can’t speak for car racing because all of my experiences were in road and desert racing motorcycles, but one thing to prepare for is finding out just what fast really is! I ran with a bunch of fast road riders and when I’d qualified for my track license (AFM) I’d be going into a corner on what I thought was the absolute limit, maxed out on the brakes, and some of the top riders in my class would go by me like I was tied to a stump. I did get much faster as my experience progressed, but holy shit no kidding, track fast is a whole new world! :eek:

Some drag racing ( bracket racing ) in the 1980s. It was exciting to me and friends to tweak/modify our cars ( while maintaining everyday driveability ) to get the best times and trap speeds. To humble, and be humbled. to talk cars with other gearheads. The best was the intoxicating soundtrack of high performance engines strutting their stuff.