I have two questions. I'm currently dealing with the following dilemma. I've done 6 HPDE events (Mazda Drivers, TrackDaze, etc) this past season in my 91 track miata (gutted, no ac, no ps, rollbar, hardtop, intake, straight thru exhaust, racing seats/harnasses, eibach springs/shocks, 3 sets of wheels). I'm done events at VIR and SummitPoint and been solo'ed at both tracks in the intermediate group.
I want to DEFINTELY do SPEC Miata racing. The question is: Do I keep my current track miata, spend another $500 or so and make it even better next season while I continue to get MORE seat time OR do I get a SPEC Miata and get seat time in that before I get into racing?????
Also, What is involved in getting a racing license? What is the fastest way to get one??? I keep spending $400 on HPDEs which is a neccessary expense but is that helping me get closer to SPEC racing?
What is your budget? Racing will cost you $800-$1000 a weekend (tires, brakes, entry fees & fenders). You will need a suit, gloves, shoes.... etc. A search on this site should give you an idea what getting your car race ready will cost. Don't go cheap on a cage; it may save your life one day
If you can swing it, take the schools, get your novice permit and start racing!! This is a GREAT group of people.
If you are in the DC region and going to run the SCCA MARRS series, I'd suggest running SSM. If you donít end up racing this year, crew for a couple of races. You will learn a ton.
Car #: 54
Year : 1990 Posts: 711
Neal makes a good point - check your budget - but if you can afford it you should go racing.
You are only going to get so fast doing HDPE - and it sounds like you've done enough of that.
It also sounds like your car is pretty close so you should think about upgrading the car with the parts required to make it an SM and good safety equipment - Go to your local region schools and get you novice permit - allot of regions run what is called a super school or double school you get two days of school followed by a race. You can get all your schools done in one week end and race on the novice permit for the rest of the season. That way you are on the track racing other racers not just driving laps.
In most SM races you will find drivers and cars of different prep levels and abilities so you will always have someone to race with.
Use the forum search function for info on schools - there are a bunch of threads.
Car #: 23 SSM, 36 SM
Year : 1992, 1990 Posts: 136
The following link will take you to the SCCA web site. Under the topic "GO RACING" you will find a description of the license process as well as the membership forms, medical forms and novice permit application. http://www.scca.com/contentpage.aspx?content=43
Car #: 47/479
Year : 1992 Posts: 418
I think the HPDE thing is interesting... I keep running across guys in the novice group in the NW that are really really slow, and you ask them what they've done in the way of driving, and they've "done 1 or 2 HPDE days" and jumped straight into racing. I did probably 8 to 10 HPDE days (edit: and a LOT of autocross) before I started racing, and I really consider that around the bare minimum you'd want to do.
What it really amounts to is that you want to start racing on a track you're very very comfortable with. That way, your first sessions in traffic you can focus on dealing with traffic, not both dealing with traffic and trying to figure out your racing line. That's not to say that when I started racing, I was the cat's meow around pacific and PIR, but I could lap them in an HPDE day with one hand behind my back, and was still fairly terrified on my first races on each track.
Region: NWR/Oregon; ICSCC
Car #: 70
Year : 1991 Posts: 1111
The other side of HPDEs is that you can (at least in my opinion) do too many of them. Because most HPDEs don't want you driving 10/10, you can end up very fast for a lapping day, but still be very slow for racing. I know that that happened to me; it took most of my first year of racing (just completed) to overcome that and learn how to really drive a little fast.
But I agree with David that it's a bit odd to go racing before you're one of the studs at most lapping days. If you're not fast at a lapping day, you'll be terrified in a race, with cars lapping you all the time, and nobody to race with.
Car #: 13
Year : 1992 Posts: 847
quote:Originally posted by sphinxica:
The question is: Do I keep my current track miata, spend another $500 or so and make it even better next season while I continue to get MORE seat time OR do I get a SPEC Miata and get seat time in that before I get into racing?????
You kinda answered your own question, meaning the answer is SEAT TIME. Get it anyway you can because speed is not what you need to go racing, that comes... You need awareness of what is going on around you and the only way to get that is by being on track with other cars.
Have you been running NASA's HPDE program?
If yes What level are you in right now?
If you have not run at least 3-to-4 in NASA HPDE Level 3 don't even think about racing yet.
Now, I can only speak to the NASA process and can say that it works. There are very few drivers/cars that I raced in the 2007 season that I would say were un-enjoyable to be around on track (read - makes unsafe risky low reward passes). BTW: 2007 was my rookie season after 4 races schools & 20+ HPDE events.
So, please don't take this the wrong way but IMO six HPDE events would not give you enough experience to go racing.
My suggestion: 1. Get all the safety gear you WILL need (Suit, proper helmet, shoes, underwear, & HANS). Buy good stuff so it will last.
2. Get/upgrade the safety stuff in your existing car. You can transfer most of if you decide to change cars.
3. Run HPDE's until you and your session instructors (NASA) say you are ready to take your competition class.
Take your time, there is too much to loose if you rush it. IM me your phone number if you want to talk. Good luck.
-------------------- Thanks, John Mueller NASA SM National Director http://www.Weekend-Racer.com #13 "Tiger Miata" - 2009 SoCal SSM Champion
Region: NASA FL / CFR SCCA
Car #: 25
Year : 1991 Posts: 374
My opinions/answers for:
Question 1: Turn your miata into a spec, your halfway there. Get a good SM legal cage installed professionally, get all of your safety equipment like Sn8byte said, and start thinking Spec Miata racecar instead of fast HPDE car. Complete an SCCA drivers school/NASA HPDE program to get your Novice permit and go racing.
Question 2: Build your car, take that $400 entry fee you would pay at a HPDE and use it for an SCCA drivers school (Roebling Road Double drivers school costs $400), get your novice permit and go racing. OR, begin transforming your track miata one part at a time (start with a SM legal cage) into a spec miata and start working your way up the NASA HPDE ladder program with the car your building/built, and ease into your racing license when your ready.
You already know you want to race, so your wasting time by not doing it. I knew I wanted to go racing after 2 HPDE's, then I devised a plan and went to work. It sounds like your comfortable with the HPDE's, so the NASA route might suit you better.
PM me if you need more info or help with anything.
Region: Des Moines Valley
Car #: 59
Year : 1991 Posts: 1910
If you can afford it and want to, get your competition license and go racing.
I've raced with experienced HPDE'ers, and I've raced with never-been-on-the-track folks. Either group is fully capable of running fast and safe, slow and dangerous, or any combination in between. The biggest variable is the driver.
Look out for yourself and your fellow drivers and you'll be fine.
Car #: 99
Year : 1990 Posts: 78
Lot's of great info above!! Just thought I'd throw my 2cents in here as I was in your position last year.
The suggestion to run with NASA is probably your best bet. Prior to this last year I ran with the BMW club, CGI Motorsports, and a couple of other clubs along with a few years of autocrossing.
NASA did the best job of preparing me for the track and wheel to wheel. If you can run with group 4 and the TT guys, passing in corners and feel comfortable your ready for Spec Miata. Prior to that keep having fun with lap days.
The best thing I did was check around at all the track's in my area. I found I could get almost unlimited track time at CGI motorsports in Mich for a very reasonable fee on a Monday.
Track/seat time is where it's at and you probably actually get more of it by running lap/TT days than you will while racing.
One other thing that wasn't touched on here is that something can be taken away from each experience.
Autocross is great for teaching you how to read a track and figure out a line or what might work for you so when you do go to a new track to race you won't be quite as lost and might even figure out something the rest haven't. It also teaches a lot about car control (inexpensively). Lap days and especially TT are good prep work for qualifying. After all that's what TT (time trials) are all about correct?
As far as schools go I'm a little biased there . I did the weekend mentioned above with the SCCA, 2 school days followed by a race. They put on a great event, well organized, professional and a lot of fun.
Finally remember to pick up some of the great books on our favorite sport. There's a lot out there and a lot can be gained from them. I picked up a lot about passing and racing that wasn't touched on in anything else and helped during the school weekend.