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How to Get Started in Auto Racing

Posted on October 20, 2020 by Martin Banks

Watching motorsport events can be exhilarating, but nothing beats being behind the wheel. If you’ve never dipped your toes into the world of racing, though, you may not know where to start. Thankfully, auto racing may be more accessible than you realize.

You can join many entry-level racing events with the car you drive daily, not needing any modifications. If you want to get serious about racing, you should get another vehicle, but you don’t need one to start. All you need to begin with is a working car and an event you like.

This late race accident by Jimmie Johnson helped give his teammate, Jeff Gordon, a chance to pass many of the race leaders and remain within contention for the Chase.

Choosing an Event

You have some options when it comes to amateur racing, each offering a different experience. Perhaps the most popular event is a track day, where racetracks open up to the general public. You won’t race door-to-door in these events but can compare lap times and get a feel for the track experience.

The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) hosts track days across the country you can look for. On top of letting you drive freely on a professional course, these will also give you some track driving tips and instruction. All in all, it’s an excellent first step in auto racing.

If you want a more competitive experience, you may want to check out autocross. Like track days, you can use your daily road car and won’t engage in any door-to-door races. Unlike track days, though, they take place on temporary courses and are more competitive, offering tournaments and prizes.

Autocross is typically cheaper than a track day event and is an excellent way to hone your skills. The SCAA hosts a range of autocross competitions, too, from racing schools to national championships. 

If you’re after something closer to the NASCAR experience, you should look into club racing. These are door-to-door races on professional tracks that racing organizations hold for amateurs. You’ll need a racing-ready car and some good insurance given the extra risk, but these events are surprisingly accessible.

Club racing will be more expensive than other options but is the closest thing to professional racing. You can find nearby events from the SCAA, National Auto Sport Association and other organizations.

Taking Care of Your Car

If you’re going to make a habit out of racing, you’ll need to perform some extra maintenance. Make sure you follow all the standard steps, like changing your oil every 7,500 miles or so. The new pressure from racing will require some extra care, too.

You may want to buy a set of track tires, so your racing doesn’t affect your daily drive. If you race frequently, you’ll also need to change your brake pads more often. You may also need brake fluid with a higher boiling point since you’ll brake harder on the track.

If you’re not already familiar with doing basic repairs and maintenance yourself, you should learn. Going to a mechanic for routine procedures will get expensive quickly when you’re racing. Knowing how to do it by yourself will save you a lot of money.

Anyone Can Get Into Racing

As long as you have a functioning car and a track within driving range, you can start racing. Depending on where you live and your budget, your options may be limited, but they’re still accessible. After you get started, you’ll meet new people and expand your connections in the racing world.

Whether you want to become a pro or just want to drive a few laps, there’s something for you. The world of motorsport is right at your fingertips.

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