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Author Topic: Drive to track?
Rocket
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Does anyone drive their car to the track or does everyone tow it?

Jim Boemler Verified Driver
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Yes. Try a search, it's been discussed a LOT.

jim

--------------------
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jason dave Verified Driver Made Donation to Website Series Champ
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I will save you the time: HAUL IT!!

This past February, my friend drove his Audi A4 to Willow Springs for a track day. Near the end of the day, his power steering failed. As it turns out, the pump self destructed. Our first thought was to cut the belt so he could drive it home (about 150 miles). Unfortunately, it also drives the alternator. Long story short, a $290 tow bill. Not to mention the hour and a half we waited at the track for the flatbed.

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"Wide open till ya see god, then brake!"

Jim Boemler Verified Driver
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My counterpoint would be "drive it". I've totalled the car once, and blown an engine once, but (largely through the help of friends near the track) the car has never once failed to get me home. BTW, home is usually 200 miles away, and never less than 50.

jim

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Jim Daniels
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Jim, you are the VERY rare exception. Driving the SM to the track with open exhaust, 700 pound race springs and (in most cases) missing the safety items a street car has was not what "low cost racing" was supposed to mean.

It can be done obviously but this better suits auto crossing in a lessor prepared car. IMHO

Then there is the time put on the shocks, springs and drive train. Even the crate motor is worthy of getting as many race laps out of it as you can, again IMO.

With that said, if driving to the track is the only way, I say drive it!

[ 04-29-2006, 09:32 AM: Message edited by: Jim Daniels ]

spdmonkey Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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I'll echo Jim's comments. There is always a crew of "friends" ready to lend a hand in any situation at the track. I know as people have helped me out of small and enormous jams--see avatar! I have hauled others cars home for them on my trailer and let them drive my old SS cars and driven my car so someone could use the trailer. Sure its not always feasible or easy, but in a pinch it can usually be done.

Now point 2 is that a trailer makes it a huge amount easier. You can pick up a used trailer for under $1000 and a tow vehicle can be almost anything beyond a compact when you are pulling a Miata. I was told once that a trailer is worth 1.5 seconds a lap in the back of your mind for that piece of mind. Sounded odd 20 some years ago, but it became true when I rented my first tow dolly from U-Haul a few years later. Still rings true to this day. If you can afford it use a trailer, but if not don't let it discourage you from racing. Just remember to leave that little bit on the table-especially if i'm racing you. [Smile]

cam Verified Driver
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Just sharing my personal experiance, I went to the first few races driving my car with spare tires stacked in and on top of the car. A very small cooler and min tools. After seeing so many other cars not being able to drive home I finally got a cheep open trailer and an equally cheep 10 year old Toyota 4Runner to tow it with. It has made my racing weekends much more enjoyable. I have never crashed the car but have blown a few rear ends. I now carry the tools and parts to swap out a rear and other minor repairs and two sets of tires. And in my part of the country (Texas), it is nice to be able to turn on the AC on the ride home. IMHO, if your budget means you have to choose between a HANS or trailer, get the HANS first and make new friends at the track. Stay safe and have fun [Smile]

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"The problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."
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vanarkel Verified Driver
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As usual, I disagree with Jim D. There is probably no better definition of "low cost racing" than driving your car to the track.

It's the guys who show up at the track with $15,000 worth of car and $150,000 worth of stuff to get the car there that have it backwards.

channelmaniac
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Just make sure you wear your helmet if you are driving to/from the track. You don't want to get a little pop to the side of the car and end up smacking a roll cage with your head. "Game over man!"

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Jim Daniels
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quote:
Originally posted by vanarkel:
As usual, I disagree with Jim D. There is probably no better definition of "low cost racing" than driving your car to the track.

It's the guys who show up at the track with $15,000 worth of car and $150,000 worth of stuff to get the car there that have it backwards.

"With that said, if driving to the track is the only way, I say drive it!"

I use an open trailer and my roofing work truck BTW, car not close to 150k but I'm trying. [Razz]

Thinking back, not one of the guys who built the first cars drove them to the track, I guess they were "backwards" (boy the class has suffered as a result of them not driving their cars to the track" [Big Grin]

Nothing about low cost "RACING" should include driving your "RACE CAR" to the track. Then again, some SMs are not really race cars so I guess we are lucky that SM provides this option.

In our state (I assume many others) cars not passing emissions cannot be tagged. We could not dive them if we wanted to (city folk that is).

Surely you SM purist would not want to damage our ozone, right? [Smile]

Jim Daniels
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quote:
Originally posted by vanarkel:
As usual, I disagree with Jim D.

What was the other time, going national with SM, pro motors, weight reduction on the 1.8, I forget?

Rocket
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Thanks for the many replies. I did try a search, but "drive to track" brought up just about every message on the board!

I agree with both sides. I guess it is a matter of personal preference.

But it is good to know that it is indeed possible to drive to the track if one desired to.

Thanks again.

Lucky Kid Verified Driver
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My tow vehical is less reliable then the car...Last year I drove to the track...if your wallet won't let you get a rig then drive it. Just try to run diff pads on the street.

AAA Gold is the way to go... 4 Tows/year 90 miles a tow!

Roy

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IMSA RS 69
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While not exactly the same thing, when racing SS I always drove my cars to the track, with average distances of 300-600 miles... figuring the difference in cost of gas for the four banger vs the gas guzzling van you could afford to go back and get your car about every sixth race and come out even... same applied to the Renault Cup cars...

Fortunately, it was seldom necessary and as noted above those with trailers were always helping one another out...

As for comfort, I never had an SS car w/o A/C and it only bit my fanny in one instance (a case of 150 lbs. extra weight vs the usual 50 lbs. 'cause of the old style boat anchor size piston type compressor it had)...

Hell, way back in the ol corp rac'n days some of us even drove our RS Sedans to the track, and they were mechanically modded out more than SMs...

IMSA RS 69

whenry
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I have never driven the SM to the track but did slap a license plate on it and drove it to the Miata at the Gap event that is held nearby. We used mainly back roads and tried to keep moving the whole time. It was fun for awhile on the 313 curves of the Dragon but it got tiring. I was ready to get out of that car by the time I got there and then on Saturday nite, the group wanted to drive over the Skyway and eat in Tellico Plains. It was a long drive and I felt every bump and crack in the road, not to mention all the surface undulations. Remember that most of our races are 45 min on very smooth asphalt. Two or more hours in the SM is going to seem like an eternity. YMMV

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Tamiya
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I would consider a trailer just a small investment for long term goals. Assuming that you believe that you'll have enough interest to last for a few years, it would be the best route to go.

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Tamiya USA, Inc.
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Jim Boemler Verified Driver
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This is my fifth year, so interest isn't a problem. As I've mentioned before, my problem is that while I can afford a trailer, and a truck to pull it, I can't afford a different house to park it all at. This stuff ripples through the rest of your life. So I drive to the track, about 200 miles each way. No biggie.

jim

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Glenn B Verified Driver
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I have the same issue as Jim, nowhere to park a trailer. Would a tow dolly be a better option than driving?

Jim Boemler Verified Driver
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Personally, I doubt it. A dolly brings most of the down-side, without giving an up-side. That is, you don't have any more room for spare sets of tires, spare parts, that kind of thing, but the hassle factor still goes up. I'd consider a dolly to be the worst way to go -- but of course I'm in the minority on the towing score.

jim

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Greg Bush Verified Driver
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I looked at putting my car on a dolly once, and I don't think it would work. These cars are low enough that the dolly "ramp" would hit the underside of the car if anything other that pool table smooth roads are used.

We store our trailer off-site because we don't really have the room, and having the trailer gone for a weekend telegraphs the local low-lifes that the house is vacant and ripe for burglary.

We learned that the hard way, but fortunately the 200 pounds of dog that we left behind held down the fort.

We are lucky in that the storage place is close to the house and only $40 per month.

Greg

m2 Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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If you drive it, better make sure you have it registered, licensed, and insured; or if you are a dealer, then a transport tag will do. [thumbsup]

BUT, I'd hate to get pulled over by a police officer in a race car! [boggled] Can you imagine the tickets he/she could write you? Let's see: No horn (improper equipment tkt), No registration, Too low (they can check your bumper height) to the ground (maybe), too loud (and improper exhaust if you've taken off the cat converter), no parking brake (improper equipment)! Yes, they can write you plenty if you don't have the above. [yep]

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Colin MacLean Verified Driver
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A trailer is one of the better investments in racing. You can get a lot of your money back when you sell it. I know storing the trailer is a pain, most of us have to store it off-site. You can typically store for around $50 a month. If you don't race very often, and have to store, it may be worth looking at renting a UHaul trailer.

For example, if you buy a typical open trailer for $2000 and own (and store) it for 2 years then sell it for $1000 your total cost of ownership is $2200. UHaul charges around $50 per day to rent a trailer. That's 15 race weekends (3 day weekends) If you don't race that often it may make better financial sense.

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Colin MacLean
Flyin' MacLean Motorsports

Jim Boemler Verified Driver
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Mike, mine is 100% legal, except for not having a cat. I'm willing to take the risk of someone wanting to check (I've never heard of anybody in my state being checked on the road for that). It's registered and insured, and relatively quiet (about like the MC exhaust). Since most of the time it's on the road it's pulling a trailer, my biggest fear is getting a ticket for towing in the left lane, which I do -- along with 60% of the other trailers on the road.

As long as I drive like a sane person (which I try to do on the street), I'm not any more worried about a ticket in the race car than in any other car. BTW, the cops don't generally give it a second look, and those that have looked twice have done so with interest and approval -- a cop is as likely to give a friendly wave as anybody else.

jim

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Just a clown

Christine B Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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I drive my car to the track - for now. Not an ideal situation for sure, but with 2 cars and one 20' trailer it's the only option. We hope to get a two car trailer this winter.

In the meantime it's drive the car or don't race. Yes it's insured, and of course if pulled over by the wrong officer having a bad day I'm sure I'd get a stack of paper to take home. [Big Grin]
I do agree with the clown that it is unlikely and have motored past troopers without a second glance.

I do suggest taking the time to think about what you really want/need in a trailer before buying a trailer. I've seen people buy open trailers or just big enough enclosed trailers only to re-purchase a year later. Also by looking around a little you'll really be able to spot that deal when it comes around.

Good luck!

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Christine
#40 SM NWR

m2 Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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I understand Jim. I have plenty of courtroom stories to tell from traffic court where police officers wrote tickets for some pretty off-the-wall stuff so I don't want anyone out there with the notion that driving their race car on public roads is "technically" legal. You take your chances.

I agree with Colin too. Buying a used flat bed trailer can be about $1000, and, trailers don't depreciate that much.

Face it. Racing takes money. And $1000 in race bucks isn't all that much. IMHO.

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Mike Martin
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gbaker
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Needing to check on a helmet-related issue (long story), I stepped into a street legal race car for a quick trip around the block--with helmet, of course...

Me: "Is there a problem, officer?"

Officer of the Law: "Not if you're lucky, but you sure look illegal."

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Gregg Baker, P.E.
Isaac, LLC

SoCal_SM
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Around here (SoCal), the Uhaul trailers have angled steel plates on the inside of the open bed to prevent a car's wheels from falling into the center gap. SMs may scrape this angled plate when coming onto or going off the trailer. I don't recommend UHaul trailers for this reason.

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Mark Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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I used Uhaul trailers for several weekends (six or more) before buying an open trailer. I didn't have any clearance issues. Your setup may be different than mine so YMMV there. I did have beaucoup problems with their trailers though. Invariably the wiring was always bad and hacked up at best. Wheel bearings and tires were other issues that had to be dealt with. Of course none of this was ever discovered until the Thursday afternoon pickup which means the whole schedule is now in emergency mode. With a Thursday pickup and a Monday return I was spending 160.00 or more per weekend just on the trailer. It didn't take long to do the math and buy a NEW 18 ft open trailer for 1700.00. I used that trailer for about 9 months and then sold it for 1800.00 in order to buy an enclosed trailer. Granted I was very lucky. The market here in socal is very good for open trailers, I would not hesitate to buy one as I believe there is a very good chance of recouping most of your investment.

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Mark
http://www.ironcanyonmotorsports.com

m2 Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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True. U-haul equipment is often very unreliable.

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Mike Martin
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Casey Z Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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One other thing to note on the U Haul route. They will not rent a trailer to be pulled behind a Ford Explorer (Which is my tow vehicle).

Got my open 16 footer new for $850 with pull off tires.

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Z Brothers Racing / East Street Auto

Casey Z - 1.6 Kettle
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Blake Thompson Verified Driver
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$850 conversion van
$1000 used open wheel trailer
$1000 for class 3 hitch and brake controller.

5,000 trouble free miles.

im replacing the thermostat and water pump ($40 total) now...

i dont really see the argument to be honest. driving to the track is a serious risk for a lot of reasons.

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Jim Boemler Verified Driver
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What "argument" don't you see, and what "serious risk" are you afraid of?

jim

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Just a clown

Matt Johnson Verified Driver
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On the uhaul will not rent trailers to be pulled with explorers: just tell them you are pulling it with a Mercury Mountineer... I would be willing to bet a beer that they don't question it.

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Matt Johnson
1990 SM #73 - yet another red miata.

Casey Z Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Johnson:
On the uhaul will not rent trailers to be pulled with explorers: just tell them you are pulling it with a Mercury Mountineer... I would be willing to bet a beer that they don't question it.

Just FYI, I tried this route, but it is kind of hard to convince the guy at the Uhaul place when you go to pick up the trailer in an Explorer.

I tried, others might get lucky. It would really suck to get denied the day before a track event.

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Casey Z - 1.6 Kettle
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Dusty Bottoms Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
99 all the way!

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I don't rent from U-haul for a couple of reasons. Twice on the day of a move, with a reservation, I've showed up and they have no truck for me. Another time I got a truck with a pedal that went to the floor. Then I saw a U-haul that had rolled on I-35, broken hub is what it looked like. They are the sh*%tiest trucks I've ever rented. Penske and Budget always seem to have better equipment but I don't know if they have trailers.

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Andrew C Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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I'm not allowed to rent from u-haul anymore... I'm on their "list". About 4 years ago, I rented a truck, returned it, no problems. About 2 weeks later, I see charges on my CC from a u-haul in WV, then one from Ohio, then NY. Apparently the local u-haul in MD was passing my CC number around the country and making fraudulent charges. I call u-haul and their "security" dept. says there is nothing they can do. I call my CC and they remove all the charges without question. Everything is fixed.

About 2 years later, I call a different u-haul (in VA) to reserve a truck. The guy on the phone says, "huh, the computer says to call the security hotline"... u-haul now refuses to rent to me because my CC reversed their fraudulent charges. I laugh and explain the whole thing to the u-haul security agent to no avail. Oh well, no great loss for me. I never liked u-haul anyway, they were just the cheapest option.

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Andrew Coe
WDCR SSM #46
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TC
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I still drive my SM to the track. I stick 3 wheels/tires into the passenger side and a 4th wheel/tire in the trunk. All the tools, jack, gear, and cooler fit in the other spaces.

It's not ideal but it's the best option for me at the moment. I don't have a place to park a truck/trailer, and sometimes, I just can't get off work until late Friday evening so I just wake up early and drive to the track on Saturday morning.

I know my shocks/springs/drivetrain have taken a beating and my motor has a lot of miles, but this way I can still make a race even if I get home from work at 8/9/10pm on Friday night.

Regarding cops, yes, they always take a look at me and my car. But I don't drive like a knucklehead on the street nor do I try to evade them by switching lanes or making an obvious exit off the freeway. So far so good, and I have yet to be pulled over in 3 years...

BentleyJava Verified Driver
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In regards to making the car road legal, how do you get around the driver window issue. In VA the inspection guidelines state that the drivers window has to go up and down...

Greg Bush Verified Driver
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Depending on your cage design, there may be room for a fully functional window.

Otherwise, get a spare door and run it just for your annual street inspection [Wink]

Greg

Jim Boemler Verified Driver
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Mine works fine -- electric, no less, which is the right way to go, given how little swing the handle has with a cage installed.

jim

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Just a clown

RacerX Verified Driver
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I know this was a few posts ago, but for those of us who can not park a trailer at their house, try a self-storage lot. I pay $50 a month for a secure outdoor space. Yeah, I know it's another bill. But in the grand scheme of things, another $600 per year to go racing is minor compared with the convenience of having your own trailer whenever you need it.

I rented a U-haul trailer once. And once was enough for me.

Roman
SM #32

BentleyJava Verified Driver
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quote:
Originally posted by G Bush:
Depending on your cage design, there may be room for a fully functional window.

Otherwise, get a spare door and run it just for your annual street inspection [Wink]

Greg

Now that's a great idea! [scratchchin]

Dusty Bottoms Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
99 all the way!

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Any chance you can install some snaps on the door and hardtop and just get a Jeep-like clear vinyl window for the inspection? It will go up and down. [Big Grin]

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"Your victory is tainted! Asterisk! Asterisk!!!"--Lisa Simpson

Stitches
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Slightly off topic, but do most people drive +/- 2 hours to the closest track for a race?

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Steve
1999 Track Day Miata

Jim Boemler Verified Driver
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For me, the closest is about an hour, most common is over 3 hours.

jim

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Just a clown

BentleyJava Verified Driver
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quote:
Originally posted by Antonio Garza:
Any chance you can install some snaps on the door and hardtop and just get a Jeep-like clear vinyl window for the inspection? It will go up and down. [Big Grin]

That's another good idea. They wranglers pass inspection somehow...

Mark de Regt Verified Driver Made Donation to Website
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quote:
Originally posted by Jim Boemler:
For me, the closest is about an hour, most common is over 3 hours.

jim

Same here (I wonder why).

Like Jim, I drive my race car to the tracks, dragging a tire trailer behind the car. I haven't yet been able to convince myself to go as far as Spokane with this setup (and, besides, they seem to have races there only when it's 130 degrees out there, which isn't my idea of fun).

Jim Boemler Verified Driver
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BTW, there's a variation in trailers as well. I tow a little (4-foot) Harbor Feight trailer, that's fairly tightly packed, but works quite nicely. Mark's trailer is twice the length of mine, so he can pack with a back hoe if he wants. I think his is only a hundred pounds or so more than mine (which tips the scales at just under 500 pounds).

Other than slower acceleration, I can hardly tell I'm towing anything. I suspect Mark's is even easier, since it's not quite as short-coupled as my little one.

jim

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Just a clown

Sean Yepez Verified Driver
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For me, the extra sense of security that comes from not having to drive the same car home is worth the added expense and effort.

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2008 San Francisco Region SMT Champion

Jim Daniels
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True SM would be like the one lap event, drive our cars and drag our tires. Sounds like great fun 7 years into my SM regiment!

 
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