Scca solo, NASA TT/ST/AI/AIX. What do you race and why?

Discussion in 'Corner Carver Racing Tech Discussion' started by white86hatch, May 28, 2015.

  1. white86hatch

    white86hatch forum member

    I was sitting around having a good conversation with a few friends about why we prefer solo and it got me to thinking. What's your drug of choice when it comes to competitive Motorsport? For me in my limited experience of drag racing, motorcycles, and now autocross. I much prefer the intense adrenaline rush that autocross provides. The cost involved with autocross isn't horrible either. I'm curious to see the responses to this thread. For those of you who compete in wheel to wheel how much is the price of admission? I find it interesting to see realistic numbers for cost between different levels of this sport. :head3:
  2. SlowJim

    SlowJim forum member

    #1 favorite - HPDE because I can't afford TT or W2W. Mid Ohio is about an hour from my house.
    #2 - A local "autocross" club which runs on a go-kart track. It can be challenging with such a large car but it is about 80% the fun of HPDE at 10% of the cost.
    #3 - Parking lot autocross is my least favorite because I have terrible depth perception and have trouble seeing the course through the cones
  3. Mike Rousch

    Mike Rousch Member Official Vendor

    W2W is cheaper then most people think (depending on class) You can get into CMC for around 10,000. I am talking a competitive car, spare parts, spare tires/wheels. A good friend of mine runs it and has a blast with it.

    AI figure about 25-30k for a competitive car plus some spare parts. AIX, well that depends on region. Figure that is out of the question for most of us.

    ST- Unless your a fantastic driver and a pretty big budget your going to get run over by C5's. I think its possible for a s197 (5.0) to be somewhat competitive, but that has yet to be proven.

    Since doing 1 track day at VIR I will never do another autocross, So HPDE is my home for a while.

    Drag racing, Well if you want to be competitive in any heads up class around the country going on right now figure dropping around 100k to start and about half that per year in just maintenance on the car.
  4. Mark Aubele

    Mark Aubele forum member

    Started out Autocrossing, still run a few events each year but started hillclimbing in '06 and have been doing it since. Time trial here and there as well. Well the first type of racing I did was bicycles, then drag racing, but never really competitively drag races and racing BMX got boring quickly had more fun just riding.
  5. Boaisy

    Boaisy Dark Knight

    I mostly do Autocross for now, but I like HPDE's more, just can't afford the upkeep to do HPDE right now.

    I prefer NASA over SCCA locally because NASA has a better crowd here, and I don't care for SCCA's classing anymore.
  6. csamsh

    csamsh forum member

    Interesting thread.

    I love autocross.
    - Cheap, (almost) anything can run, and I haven't done anything else that packs that much intensity into as short a time.
    - Short of ice racing, I don't think there's a better place to learn car control/handling at the limit/how a car works than autocross. I describe it to friends as a 50 second pass at the drag strip, if the drag strip had stops and turns.
    - No motorsport is inherently safe or absent risk to the car, but autocross is probably one of the safer ones out there, and the only thing I would take my brand new Ferrari F12 to. If I had a Ferrari.
    - It's great for setup as well. Caveat- there are some differing setup goals for a track vs. autocross car, but a car can feel fine on track and be terrible at autocross. I like to think of autocross as somewhat of a magnifying glass for looking at your setup.
    - Competition. The competition is real, and close.

    HPDE/Track Day
    - I have lost my love of track days. I know how to drive now, and a track day consists of me going out there and trying to make my Aim have the smallest number on it, and then I come in when the tires go off. It has no competition, and I need competition.
    - Can be high risk. At some of the less organized events/venues, they'll throw you out there with the dude in the convertible GT500 with fans on his brakes and 555R's on the rear wheels.
    - They're available. They happen often, you can do them in a non-trailered car, and they're pretty cheap.
    - So with all of this...I'm moving my track exploits to...

    Time Trial
    -For the competition and the free Hoosiers.

    I will never W2W a car, I don't have the temperament to not get in paddock fights. My combination of competitiveness and short fuse was great in High School when I wrestled and played defensive end, but it's kind of terrible to have anywhere else and makes people not like me. I was the one who would yell at the girls in PE for not covering second or not hitting the floor for a rebound.
  7. mitch

    mitch HPDE Instructor

    I'm an HPDE guy, and have been instructing for several years.
    I love the hobby and love getting newbies on the track and seeing their progress.

    No offense, I think Autox is boooring. Yes, I started there, and I think you should, but standing around all day for 10 minutes worth of driving is just not fun.

    As far as racing, I have several friends that race in AI, However, with the new AI Spec class, several are selling the AI cars and going AI Spec.

    My friend just built a competitive car for just under 20k, including the cost of the car.

    Taking 1st place at Sebring
  8. SoundGuyDave

    SoundGuyDave This Space For Rent

    As you all know, I'm one of those W2W knuckleheads... I've done the HPDE thing, the TT thing, and now the race thing. Along the way, I've raced in most of the classes that you can stick a Mustang into...

    TT: As has been mentioned, relatively cheap, you can use a street car, but not if you want to be seriously competitive. Triple-adjustable dampers that need rebuilds every 1K miles or so do not make a car DD friendly... These days, though, that's the level of prep you need to be really competitive.

    CMC: Raced an SN95 for a while, GREAT SERIES. Yes, $10K will get you started, and there is a serious premium on driving skills over how you built the car.

    PTB: Essentially the W2W version of TT, uses the same point system, so the two cross-class perfectly. Full safety package is, of course, required, but there's a lot you can do, and a lot of different ways you can spend the points on an 05-10 S197 to keep it in PTB, which is now the highest "letter class" out there. Note that a "perfect PT build" will not necessarily be competitive in TTB, as there can be some subtle design concepts that you'd want to focus on for each discipline.

    ST3/ST2: This class can be a surprising money pit. It's a nearly pure power-weight class (modifiers for factory aero in ST3 only, tire and other modifiers in all classes), but with an open rule set comes with a need for an open checkbook. Also, there is a native disadvantage to the S197 running here. Aero drag. We're up against the C5Z06 Mafia in ST3, and C6Z06 in ST2. Open aero rules means that you're looking at big wings, splitters, cunards, dive planes, vented fenders, etc. We start with the Cd of a garage door, they start with the Cd of a bullet. At short, power tracks, there is parity, but at anywhere with LONG straights, we're toast.

    SI: Spec Iron is a new class, aimed squarely at the FR500S market and concept. It's a spec series, so a (theoretically) level playing field that makes it a pure driver's battle. The cars are fast, have righteous bits on them, and it's growing.

    AI: This is where I am now. Limited aero rules, hard HP and TQ ratios, spec tires, and almost unlimited engine and suspension mods allowed within the power caps. Unlike Mike's assertion, $25K is NOT an entry level car. Plan on something more like $80-90K. Lots of carbon fiber, good aero parts, etc. The Boss 302S is so nearly a perfect AI car that people have joked about this being "Spec Mustang," and not AI.

    AIX: This is nearly a "sky's the limit" class. Take a car, cage it, keep the greenhouse structure, the firewall, and the front frame stubs, and the rest is fair game. NO power caps, NO tire specs, etc. VERY EXPENSIVE! I haven't read the rules in a while, but I remember some scuttlebutt about going to a pure N/A motor requirement, since the turbo motors were just starting to get silly. 1,XXX horsepower out of a 347 stroker? Sure, THAT'LL last a full season...

    Now, as to why racing and not TT? Adrenaline. With TT your entire focus is on executing that one, perfect lap. The car is built to do exactly that, and only that. Run more than 2-3 laps, and the tires go away, the brakes go away, the motor gets hot... It requires laser-focus, and is extremely rewarding when you are able to execute at that level of precision. To give you an example, I lost the 2011 regional championship by a total of one thousandth of a second. If I had just taken a crap before I went out, that would have been the margin of victory.

    Now, look at W2W. Picture yourself surrounded by 8-10 other ground-pounding V8 track cars, all in the same power-weight neighborhood rolling along the track at 35mph with less than a car-length between you and the guy ahead, AND the guy behind. There's also another car to the left of each of you, mere inches off your door. As you roll through the final corner, your attention narrows to the guy in the starter stand, waiting to see the twitch of his shoulder which would be the start of his throwing the green flag to start the race. You see the twitch. You MASH the gas pedal down, and get a slight jump on the guys around you. Bouncing off the limiter, you smack the shifter up into 3rd gear, still foot to the floor, but starting to pull away from the car next to you and the ones behind. Spotting a 7' wide gap between the two cars ahead of you, you start to slip your nose in between them, pulling hard through 3rd gear and going up into fourth, until you hit the braking zone. Knowing that you're not completely up to speed, you elect to go just a tick deeper before getting onto the binders and that slots you neatly in between the two cars that were ahead of you, and are now flanking you on either side, all three of you hard on the brakes, tails up and wagging, with literally inches between your mirrors. As you turn in for the fast T1, you KNOW that your tires aren't up to temp yet, so you're a bit off on grip, but so is everybody else. No trail-braking this time, just maintenance throttle to keep the car tight, and as the inside car bounces two tires on the berm to the right, you start to squeeze into the throttle, trusting that he's not going to slide up into you. As you add the gas, your rear end starts to slip out, and you're doing minute counter-steering, trying to hold your line, not hit the guy to your left who's crowding you trying to stay out of the marbles, and not GET hit by the guy on your right. Heart pumping? Oh yeah, and that's just the first corner! It gets even MORE interesting when you're battling for position and either catch slower traffic, or get run over by the insane AIX machines, or the ST1 Vipers, who are ALSO battling. That, my friends, is why I race. TT is NOT boring, but the level of sustained adrenaline and "need to execute" that exists in the W2W is in a completely different category compared to TT. And Autocross? Do what you enjoy, of course, but I haven't heard of very many people that have done HPDE that say "yeah, that was cool and all, but I'd really rather be hunting cones in a parking lot." TT is HPDE on steroids. And what was that quote? "Racing makes heroin addiction feel like a vague craving for something salty." Whoever said that had the right of it.

    No, it's not for everybody, it's taxing mentally, draining physically, and ruinous financially, but in all honestly it's so much fun that it really should be illegal!

  9. Mike Rousch

    Mike Rousch Member Official Vendor

    As always love your insight on things, glad your back posting again! I agree with everything you said except for AI in "our region" anyways. We have a guy in a cheap ass fox that literally kills the rest of the field in much more expensively prepped cars. He is a great driver though.

    Also the money statement was about a car that's bought not built. Chris Cabettos winning AI car just sold for around mid 35k with all kinds of extra stuff with it and if you have ever seen that car you know how nice it is. Certainly not trying to argue with you, just saying you can get into it for around that price if you find the right deal.

    You coming to nationals this year at VIR? Hope to see you there!
  10. ArizonaGT

    ArizonaGT Road Course Member

    NASA ST2 here. Dave is right-on about the Vette thing, but I hope to put up some serious competition this year at West Coast Nationals. Don't forget that Dean Martin won in a B302 a few years in a row (not that I can drive like Dean or have his setup abilities).

    On the local scale, I am in a position to be competing for the win at every event.

    Ended up in ST because of the basic power-to-weight classification rules and the base output of the car itself. Didn't do AI/AIX because I didn't want to make the car heavier or put a restrictor on the engine.
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
  11. frank s

    frank s at Play

    I like wheel-to-wheel racing best. I like the sensations of going very fast, racing against not only the track, but some other similarly-motivated nutcase. I did it with several different street-able cars, and gave it up in each case when my ideal became impossible: to be more successful without ruining street-ability. I took—still take—the plural "sports" seriously, with regard to uses of a sports car.

    Money was an important aspect, as well: I was growing a family and would have had to deprive them of something worthwhile, to race often enough to justify the investment sitting in the garage on non-race weekends. Eventually the non-racing lump in the garage was sold off, and I did without, until the next bout of short-memory hit, usually after four or five years.

    Road racing was my favorite, but during the time I had those suitable dual-sport cars, I ran whatever event was handy. With my limited budget and talent, I was able to squeeze out a couple local autocross class championships (when did they stop being "slaloms"?) and was second in class in the North-South California runoffs one year. There was plenty of fun in that, of course. My first slalom was in 1958; my last was a practice day last month. I agree that standing around hours on end for three or four fifty- or sixty-second bursts of joy just doesn't figure. There is a group that offers autocross with unlimited runs and no-work for about twice the cost of a local entry fee, but their events are more than a hundred miles away. Is a two-hundred-mile drive better or worse than standing around hours on end, etc.?

    The most joy-per-dollar-and-time investment was Solo I, which was what I believe Time Trials is today. Basic safety equipment, low entry fees, extensive point-by practice sessions, and two or three high-demand timed runs on genuine racing circuits. Riverside International Raceway, Ontario Motor Speedway, Holtville Aerodrome International Raceway, Carlsbad, Willow Springs "Big Willow" when it was "Only Willow". Due to an accident of turnout, I held the Solo I lap record for B Sedan at Willow for a short time. In a Chevy VEGA Kammback.

    I did wheel-to-wheel on most of those tracks, plus at Tijuana Playas Bullring-by-the-Sea course, and Old Tijuana Airport. Quarter-mile drag races at Carlsbad mid-late 1960s. For the past few years I've made it a practce to do the Friday-night RaceLegal eighth-mile drags with each new car to establish baseline reference in case any modifications happen to occur. Most that make for faster times conflict with my ideas of a good street car. I did one track day at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, great fun, but it's two hundred miles away, and not a good place to be from early May to October.

    I once figured my cost for getting on a genuine race track with a legitimate license cost $2,200 including safety equipment, transportation, licensing and entry fees, but not the car (5K-mile 1967 MGB, $2,500) or tires (Blue Streaks from Carroll Shelby's Pacific Beach, San Diego outlet, $160). CPI Inflation Calculator says that 1968 $2,200 would be $14,957.41, today; the car and tires, $17,404.98.

    Just sayin'.
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
  12. CobraRed

    CobraRed Creator of Tools

    Enjoyed reading you post, Frank. Thanks.
  13. fast Ed

    fast Ed forum member

    I started off doing Solo I and Solo II in my 5.0L Mustang back in the late 1980s, always enjoyed the track stuff more than the parking lot (and was marginally better at it). Some of my buddies moved on to w2w in the early 90s, and I did so as well. First with regional showroom stock in the Mustang (the Canadian rules were closer to U.S. Firehawk, not as restrictive as SCCA). I got my license upgrade to an FIA Pro-B to do some Canadian and U.S. Firehawk endurance races including a 24 hr at Mosport and a 12 hr at Sebring in other cars, those were huge fun and great experience from the amount of seat time and big fields. Got pretty carried away with financially though, and had to back away from the w2w by the mid 90s.

    These days I'm mostly doing in-car coaching at HPDEs at Mosport and Watkins Glen, been at that on and off since the mid 90s, currently with the 07 GT in my sig. Every once in a while I like to get my w2w fix, so I've been doing some Chumpcar occasionally. Was down at Watkins Glen last week to run with some guys in a little Civic, a 4 hr, and 8 hr, and a 6 race Friday / Saturday / Sunday. It was a freshly prepped car (but well done), with 2 novice drivers, 1 intermediate level (me), and 1 very experienced driver. We were pleased to have solid upper mid-pack finishes all 3 days, and a huge amount of fun.

    Dave said it right, HPDEs and time trials are fun, but being allowed to pass anywhere anytime makes it a whole different deal. I'm at the point where I don't have the craving to do w2w like I did in my mid-20s, but I do still enjoy endurance racing when the budget and time allows.

  14. claudermilk

    claudermilk forum member

    This has turned into a great thread. Epic posts from Dave & Frank. :bravo:

    For myself, I'm transitioning from Solo II to HPDE. I started out in GS with my '95 Probe GT and really enjoyed it (getting training from the regional champion in the MX6--same platform--didn't hurt), especially when I was fighting for the win each event with a good MX6 driver. I got away from it for a while as the car aged & life got in the way. After getting the Mustang, I've gotten back into the groove, but it's not quite as fun wrestling the big pony around the cones.

    I finally nutted up and tried HPDE a little over a year ago and have found a new happy place. The car is happier there, and I am happier there. While still a hack driver, I seem to have more aptitude for running an actual road course than dodging around cones.

    While I'd love to try my hand at W2W, I don't have the time, space, or financial resources to support such an effort. I'll just have to live that vicariously through some of you guys.
  15. SlowJim

    SlowJim forum member

    This is exactly why I can't justify having a dedicated track toy. My Mustang gets driven 365 days a year, even on snow tires in Ohio winters. Because of that I have to make a lot of sacrifices with the car setup, mainly with ride height and spring rate.

    Back when I was single I had a Nissan 350z and I was doing around 6-7 HPDE weekends every summer. The cost of new tires and brakes were driving me into debt FAST so I had to take a few years off. Now that I have a family to provide for I need to take it easy. So the plan is to stick with autocross and one track day per summer to keep costs down. Maybe when I'm retired I'll be able to afford/justify a dedicated track toy and do TT or W2W.
  16. Mike Rousch

    Mike Rousch Member Official Vendor

    Your doing dam good if your competing in ST2 with a Mustang, Not sure of your track layout but that is still dam impressive! For us here locally C5's pretty much rule out there. I am about 2 seconds off there qualifying times but also on 100tw tires and i could add about 25-30hp. Even still i do not think the tires will last more then a handful of laps pushing that hard.

    It must be different in other regions, in NASA Mid Atlantic we are allowed to pass anywhere with no point by's in group 3/4.
  17. Boaisy

    Boaisy Dark Knight

    NASA Mid-South is the same. HPDE 3/4 is no point passing.
  18. jayel579

    jayel579 forum member

    Started out Autocrossing, which is easily 90% of my driving experience. Started to get into it locally and nationally and had an absolute blast doing it, loved autocross when I was really into it. Then the ProSolo came to NJ a few years back and my region helped run it. I was the worker chief for the weekend and after that weekend I swore off autocrossing at any competitive level. I was argued with, belittled and even yelled at by some of the national level drivers. The ego's were completely unbearable and unreasonable. I do not ever want to be included into that group of people. So I started going to the race track with BMWCCA (in my Mustang) were you actually go more then 60 mph. Meet some great folks that I can and will now call life long friends. Once I turn a wheel in racing I sure that can change but in the end I have found it is all about the beer and laughing at the story telling at the end of the day. That comradery I have never had autocrossing.

    10k, seriously? I have seen Spec E30 and Spec Miata's go for more money then that!! Hell I am in the beginnings of building a Spec E46 car which will definitely run me north of 20k to complete all said and done. I heard over the weekend a SpecE46 car is already for sale asking 28k!

    All turbo motors go boom eventually!!
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
  19. tigercrazy718

    tigercrazy718 Junior Member

    Very cool thread. I started in Autox for a couple years, but after my first HPDE I was hooked and have hardly done anything but that since. The last autox I did was over a year ago, and that was in my Focus SVT daily driver (a pretty damn fun car to autox in). I eventually want to move up to TT in NASA, but want to do some driver and car mods first. I will have to say though, in regards to Mike's comment about learning car control at autox: while I learned a decent amount at autox about car control, it was nothing like going drifting for 2 days. I had my stock wheels and tires that had been sitting in my garage for a couple years, so I went with a friend to go kill them. I learned a ton about how the car responds to different inputs while on the edge, and it helped me immensely with being able to reel the car in when it gets loose out on the track. Plus, it was a stupid amount of fun!
  20. tigercrazy718

    tigercrazy718 Junior Member

    O and also, I agree with the sentiment that the adrenaline rush in W2W is unlike anything in HPDE. I experienced my first taste in a Lemons race last year, and even in those crap cans, it was a god damn blast.