Finding a good crew is critical. There's more work on a race car than one person can handl
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.
Once you're on the track, you can expect to see some action. If you can race with the lead
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.
Expect the unexpected. Even with the most realistic expectations, you can be sure there wi
While you're building the car, think about safety. The first calls should be made to safety equipment dealers. Even the veteran racers are susceptible to injury if they are not properly prepared, and there's still a fair amount of drivers who don't do everything possible to be safe. You can follow that path of potential harm, or you can take the right step from the start.
As we have pointed out, the race track is not responsible for your personal safety. You assume the risk once you make the decision, so it stands to reason that the decision to be safe is a logical one. It will help assure that your experience with the sport or hobby continues until you decide to stop.
While track rules generally include the basics of safety, there are areas where the driver/owner can make improvements. A reliable fire extinguishing system is a must. It should be easily accessible to the driver and safety workers in the event a driver is unable to activate it. New belts should be used. If you buy a used race car, it may come with the belts. But there's a good chance those belts have little value, as they may be old or weathered. It's not a chance worth taking. Get new belts and install them properly. The manufacturers are only a phone call away with helpful advice.
There was plenty of thought put into the layout of this car. The fire extinguisher is in p
The nature of the sport allows that there could be an accident waiting to happen. It doesn't matter how or why-it just happens in racing, and as a novice, you are at increased risk of being involved. Reactions may not have developed to a level where you can drive around a mishap. Part failures can put you into harm's way. It's nearly inevitable. Even the pros get caught up in accidents.
The important part of the accident experience is what you did on the front end to lessen the damage on the back end. Properly mounted seatbelts will hold you. Layered clothing, including Nomex or similar fire-retardant material such as underwear and socks, provides the starting point. A quality fire-resistant suit that is clean will continue the layers of protection. One point to note-protection is the most important aspect of a racing suit. It should be removed when working on the car to prevent oils and fluids from getting onto the fabric.
Gloves are a wise investment. We use our hands to work on the car (wearing mechanic's gloves is also a good idea) and likely have a job that requires our hands-the job that pays the bills that allow us to go racing. Self-protection should be instinctive.
The teams in this division are keeping it real. Some would like to have enclosed haulers,
Understand Your Place Your talent may not come bolting through in your first race. Unless you've had substantial practice, this is your first opportunity to place the car in competition. Be realistic when you're on the track. Get comfortable in the car. It's a good idea to check the lineup board well before your race to understand where you will be starting. It will allow you to get a better understanding of the competition. You will likely have some new racers and some veterans mixing it up. Understand where you need to be at the start of the race, and be ready when the call comes for your division.
Once you take the green flag, drive smart. If you cannot keep the pace with the leaders, accept it. Do not let the car wander all over the track. Try to maintain a racing line, regardless of the speed. Be courteous to the leaders as they approach. Understand where the slow lane is and get there. Be aware of your surroundings. If you don't, someone may lose patience and help you get out of the way.
There's a difference between racing and getting seat time. Do not expect to go racing in your first foray. That seat time is important at all stages of racing. Even the professionals get seat time in testing. They're not racing, only getting better at what they do (and making the cars better).
The tech man is your friend. He can be a great source of information when building the car
Be Honest You can't win them all, no matter how hard you try. The competition may have years of experience and hundreds of sponsor dollars that you haven't gotten-yet. You have your own set of talents and strengths and can develop them in a positive way, but give it time. Don't expect to dethrone the big dog, especially when there may be four or five drivers who dominate. Above all, do not be discouraged. One thing you should plan to do is have fun. If it's not fun, what's the sense in doing it?
Don't try to keep up with those who have more, simply to keep up. If your budget allows you a pickup truck with a toolbox in the back, pulling an open trailer, so be it. Racing expense is best directed to the items that make the car faster and safer. In time, you may develop the budget to expand your equipment, but don't expect it to happen from the start. You have your bills, and they have theirs.
Even though the rules are the same for everyone, drivers have different styles. Use your knowledge to develop what is best for you. Some may use different setups or higher-horsepower engines. They may have the latest, greatest parts that help them win. In reality, it may not help you for a number of reasons. You have to do what works for you and let the rest of them figure out their own plan.
Even though you may be racing in one of the lower divisions, your on-track and off-track image is vital to racing success. Many successful racers will stress the importance of keeping clean. You never know who is watching. Many sponsors want a driver who stays away from controversy. They look for marketability, as well. Maintaining your equipment further states that you're serious about what you're doing. You can earn the respect of the competition by keeping your nose clean. You have to walk a tight line down the middle at times, but it may be worth it in the long run.
Let's Go Racing If you think you have what it takes, by all means, go racing. Be prepared to experience the lowest of lows while in pursuit of the highest of highs. The disappointment will be there. Regulating it will be the challenge to success. The disappointment can be thwarted through attainable goals, realistic expectations, patience, and common sense-especially in safety. You can always develop ability. All you need is the opportunity.