Getting Started with Motorsports
I struck up a conversation with someone online and began explaining how to get started with motorsports, and I figured maybe other people would be interested too.
Autocross is definitely the way to start. Its a time-trial through an obstacle course. Because you are racing the clock, not any other cars, so you can use your own street car. The course is setup in a parking lot or on an old runway so there is little chance of an accident.
The club “SCCA”:http://www.scca.org/, “NASA”:http://www.nasaproracing.com/, or “a local club”:http://www.cumberlandmotorclub.com/ sets up a series of cones and you have to drive through them as fast as possible. Each cone you hit costs 2 seconds, going outside the cones is a DNF (Did-not-finish). Any car is eligible, assuming it passes a tech inspection (generally ok mechanical shape, battery is tied down, it brakes straight, no bad wobbles). Cars and drivers are divided into performance categories for scoring.
The cost of an autocross is usually around $25 a day, it takes the whole day, and you have to help out by fixing cones other car’s knock down. You usually get 5 to 6 runs of about 1-2 minutes each. Its a big time dedication for not a lot of track time, but its cheap and a good way to start.
The club usually provides loaner helmets if you don’t have one, and that’s all the safety equipment you need. “Here is a good getting started guide”:http://www.sfrscca.com/solo2/survival.html.
I started with the “Cumberland Motor club”:http://www.cumberlandmotorclub.com/
The venues CMC uses in Maine are usually smaller than the SCCA events at Fort Devens, which is both good and bad. Its a smaller club, so they are less formal, easier to get to know, and ‘looser’. They allow passengers in the car for example, but the SCCA doesn’t. The downside is they are usually driving in parking lots.
RallyCross is the same thing as an autocross, except its on dirt, for a more Rally-racing type experience.
Another option I haven’t done yet is a ‘high-performance driving school’, often run by a brand-club, for example, the BMWCCA or Porsche Club of America (if you happen to own one of those). “NASA”:http://www.nasaproracing.com/hpde/index.html also runs them. They basically will rent out a whole race track and pair you with an experienced driver to get you started. Again you can use your street-legal car assuming it passes some tech inspection. It is NOT a race, no passing is allowed on the track unless the driver in front of you waves you past them. They are VERY strict about this.
The cost is much higher than for autocross, maybe $150-$300 a day, but then again, you’re able to drive all out for a much longer time.