Why go to a track when I can just go to the street races for free?
So you can't afford racing or expensive open track days anyway, right? Why pay for track time? Well consider this - a speeding ticket, speed contest or reckless driving citation will easily cost more than a day at the track. Not to mention how expensive insurance will be after your citation. And let's not talk about the fact that you could kill someone (including yourself) when racing on the street. Whatever excuse you have for not taking your car to the track, there is a better argument for it. Sure, you might have gotten away with street racing for this long, but sooner or later, it will catch up with you. And when it does, you'll wonder why you weren't smart enough to just go to the track instead.
How much does it cost to go racing?
It depends on the type of racing you do. For a practice day at the drag strip, it might cost $40 - it might even be free. Check with your local track. For Autocross events, I've paid as little as $30 to participate. And for open track days at various road courses, it can be a little more expensive. You'll find that several racing clubs organize open track days so that people like you and I can participate for a relatively low price. Most track days will likely range anywhere from $100 - $400 for a full day. That's 8+ hours of driving your car as fast as you want on an road course in a safe environment. When you do the math, it's not all that expensive. And it's a lot more fun than trying to drive fast on the street. You get to pay more attention to your driving skills rather than avoiding pedestrians and other cars.
What do I need to get before I go racing?
The first thing you'll need is a good helmet. Most tracks and organized events will require you to wear a helmet. You'll also need to make sure that your seat belts are in good working order, or consider picking up a racing harness. As long as your car is in good running condition, that's it.
High Performance Driving Schools
You can find racing schools all over the country. If you live near a local race track, chances are, there is probably a racing club already involved with the track that can offer low cost instruction. If not, look into your local SCCA regional group. They'll have information on the closest road course and autocross events in your area. You can also find information on racing schools and local instructors. Driving instruction is absolutely priceless. You'll learn how to drive your car faster on the track and will be better suited for day to day street driving. Most people think they know how to drive - they usually learn very quickly how much they didn't know. If you're looking for a racing school in your area, check this site. Read up on the Road Racing/Open Track Day Basics and Misconceptions
Types of Racing
So you know you like to drive fast, but you're not sure what type of racing you'd like most. Well, here are a few of the most popular forms of racing:
- Autocross Racing
Autocrossing is great because you don't need a race track to do it. Most autocross courses are built using cones in a large open areas like airports and large parking lots. They're typically organized by clubs like SCCA and anyone can participate. These are time trial events where one car races through the course at a time in an attempt to be the fastest car in their group. If you've been to an Autocross event, you've probably noticed that it's broken up into different classes based on the level of modications done to each car. The more modded your car is, the more difficult the class you'll be in. It's very competitive, very addicting, and best of all, the least expensive type of racing to get involved in. Many events, especially those organized by the SCCA have instructors on hand to help you improve your driving skills.
- Open Track Days and Club Racing
If you don't have a lot of money to spend, you probably shouldn't consider Club Racing. However, it's not as expensive as you might think to spend a day at a local road course tossing your car around the turns. There are several groups around the country who organize \"open track days\" where local enthusiasts are able to sign up and take their car out on the race track to test their skills. Now these open track days aren't for racing, and many clubs have strict rules that prohibit competition. The idea is to get out there and practice. Pricing can range anywhere from $100-$400 for a full day. Check out SCCA and NASA Pro Racing for info on open track days and Club Racing. Read up on the Road Racing/Open Track Day Basics and Misconceptions
- Drag Racing
If you like going fast in a straight line, you need to get out to your local drag strip. It's the best way to really test your drag racing skills and see how fast your car is. It's also the responsible thing to do. The cost of entry to the track is well worth the safety of yourself and others, not to mention the fact that you can go as fast as your car is capable of and not get a ticket. Support your local track. If you don't have a track in your area, get involved with the community and help organize an effort to give others like yourself a safe place to race.
- Rally Racing
So you've been watching WRC on Speed Channel and want to take your car through mud, gravel, snow, water and get airborne? Unfortunately, it's not very easy to find rally racing circuits in the US compared to road courses. The best way we know of to get into this type of racing is to check the SCCA website. They have a few programs for Rally enthusiasts.
How can I find racing tracks and racing schools near me?
We've put together links to a ton of local tracks across the US in our Regional Sections. We also found a great resource that lists all race tracks and speedways in the US. You can search for tracks by map, by track type, or by track name or city name. Use this resource to find a track near you. If you're looking for a racing school in your area, check this site. Contact your local racetrack and ask them about groups or businesses that organize track rental. In my area, we have a few of these groups. Those are the folks you want to get in touch with, as they do all the legwork of organizing the track day and all you need to do is pay and show up - and it's fairly inexpensive.
Want to discuss racing with other DSMtuners members?
Find others who are interested in racing in our Racing Forums. Talk about race setups for your car, discuss tips and tricks that have worked well for you and share experiences with others. If you are looking to gather some local DSMers to do some racing, be sure to do so in our Localized Event Forums. We want you to get together with other local DSMers and get involved with your local race tracks. We set up those two forums specifically for that reason. Please take advantage of those resources.