The journey to racing fame and racing mediocrity begins at the same place. At some point, all racers, whether they end up in the hall of fame or not, began their involvement in the sport with the decision to give it a shot.

For some, it's a natural extension of family involvement, but there are plenty of newbies making their way into racing for their own reasons. For some, there's the thrill of victory without the thought of the agony of defeat. For many, it's the sheer competition that's inherent in the sport. Some even go in search of fame or fortune, knowing the odds against it may be tremendous. Regardless of the odds, the only certain failure comes from failing to try.

Whatever your agenda, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. There is no certain path to success, but there are definite pitfalls that can derail a racing dream. It's more about missing the wrecks than getting the victories.

Realistic Goals
There are only 43 drivers who start a NASCAR Nextel Cup race each weekend. There are about as many in a NASCAR Busch event and a Craftsman Truck race. When you consider how many racers suit up each week, there's not a lot of room at the top. It doesn't mean you can't get there; it only means you can't get there yet.

Understand your limitations, especially when starting out. Sure, there are drivers who have won their first features in their very first starts. Good for them. But that doesn't necessarily indicate talent or become a barometer for success. Start out with realistic expectations. Set goals that are attainable, depending upon the real-world factors of your life-time and money being among the most important. There are countless former drivers watching you from the grandstands. They are there because the sport became too expensive or required more time than they could give. It may not have been their fault, but it doesn't change the fact that they are no longer competing.

Before making the commitment to become a racer, get to know some racers. Find out what kind of time and money is required. If you decide to pursue it, start thinking about help. While an entry-level effort can be supported by one person, it's best to have a corps of friends, family, and neighbors willing to help out. You need a crew that carries the same level of enthusiasm. While you experience the fun of driving the car, others don't have that incentive. It takes a special person to do the work and not get the glory. There have been many drivers who have found themselves in need of manpower halfway through the year. When there's no suitable incentive, crews get burned out and find other ways to spend time. A good driver/owner takes care of his resources, and those resources include the people who help move the effort forward.

Know the Rules
There are certain limitations for an entry-level class, and many of them are there for good reason. If you are building a car from the ground up, you need to know what is expected. Have a copy of the rules sheet handy when you're putting the car together. Check with the track to determine if there are any rule changes that will impact your class. While it may seem obvious, make certain that the class is going to be part of the plan for the next season. Tracks have eliminated classes in the off-season due to lack of participation, so beware. If you have any questions, ask the tech officials. This is the time to get everything out into the open.

Get a general feel for the procedure that will be involved. Before building your car, visit the pit area at the track. This will allow you to plan your race night experience properly. It's a good bet that there's not electricity at every pit stall, so you may want to consider a generator. The lighting may not be too marvelous in some areas where entry-level classes reside, so temporary lights are always a good idea. Stock up on mosquito repellent, too.