One of our favorite parts of summer is laying on the couch on a warm Sunday and dozing off to the roar of the engines and the excitement in Darrell Waltrip’s voice with NASCAR on the TV. Somehow, we always end up dreaming about racing one of our own cars.
If you’ve ever had the same dream and want to do something about it, there are a lot of ways for you to test your mettle behind the wheel, no matter what you drive.
The easiest way to start is to find a local autocross event, usually offered under the auspices of the Sports Car Club of America (https://www.scca.com). You’re probably not going to be competitive in a bone stock Cruz, but if you’ve got a valid driver’s license, a helmet, and are OK risking knocking over some orange cones, you’re good to go. Since you’re only racing against the clock, any danger is minimized, and courses are usually set up in large, empty parking lots with a big safety margin in mind. All you need to do to get started is find an event near you: https://www.scca.com/pages/find-your-fun.
The best part is that a day of racing is usually around $50, although that may be the most expensive $50 you ever spend, because you’ll want to make some improvements to your car for the next race (or start eying a new Ford Focus RS). Autocross classes run the spectrum from factory stock through various bolt-on modifications, to cars built specifically for autocross, so there is a class to match your level of interest, finances, and skill.
If you like your fun a little more on the dirty side, SCCA also holds timed solo dirt track rallycross racing. Just like in autocross, the tracks are set up on flat ground with safety in mind, and are open to stock daily drivers as well as cars with slight modifications (studded tires, custom suspensions), and custom rally racers.
Once you’ve got a little more confidence, the SCCA also offers head-to-head racing, although this requires a larger investment of time and money. You’ll need to be an SCCA member, pass a physical, and earn a racing license from a certified driver school event. You’ll also need a proper racing suit and other equipment, and will want to bring a friend or two that know how to wrench to be your pit crew. At this point, to be competitive you’ll need a dedicated car that has been modified to meet race rules (available here: https://www.scca.com/pages/cars-and-rules).
SCCA also offers special classes and races for vintage cars, karts (a great way to start kids in racing), and even custom built college team cars, although these can be harder to find.
Of course, if you’re more into pure muscle, there’s also amateur drag racing. You COULD pull up next to someone at a stoplight and give them the traditional rev and nod, but that tends to get expensive once the blue lights start flashing. Instead, if you’ve got a local race track, you’ve probably got an opportunity to see what your car can do in a quarter mile. While there is not a single organizing body like SCCA for drag racing, most local tracks offer an amateur race, and there is almost always an entry class requiring little more than a working seat belt and a helmet.
Since we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t mention it, if you start racing and inevitably need to upgrade your car to compete, don’t forget to upgrade your garage with one of our Backyard Buddy lifts. As always, we are here at (800) 837-9353 from 8:00 to 5:00 Eastern time to help you find the lift that meets your needs. See you on the track!