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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

$2000 Challenge: A low-budget racing bonanza

"Like most good ideas," said Tim Suddard, founder and publisher of Grassroots Motorsports magazine, "it started with too many beers." Suddard and his drinking buddies had been discussing the cost of racing. The high cost of racing. Which, truth be told, really needn't cost a fortune, Suddard surmised.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/motorsports/2000-challenge-a-low-budget-racing-bonanza/
17 REPLIES 17
hyperv6
Racer

Look every form of motorsports starts cheap. But there is always someone who is willing to spend whatever it takes to hold an advantage to win. This drives up cost at all levels.
Used to be all racing was inexpensive but then the cost go up as people pay for more tech or advantages.
I though the Soap Box Derby was cheap. How expensive can it be to just send a kid down hill in a homemade race car.

Then we found you had to several thousands dollars in tools including a set of scales just like you use in ,midget car racing as balance is the key to a good car along with alignment down to the thousandth of an inch. Kids no longer build these cars. Families no longer build these cars. You find there are guys who have been building them for others for a number of years now. Well we build our own did ok.

We used to local stock car race but there again some guys had more in their clutch and rear gear than we had in the car.

We never dominated but we did win at each and that was a major victory on to its own.

The worst enemy of racing is tech and money.

Note I always admired Roger Penske as he had the unfair advantage. But he had the money to pay for it. In the end was it really good for the sport? 

 

On the other hand Smokey Yunick held some unfair advantages. But most times they involved legal at the time or some not so legal modifications that generally were not all that expensive. I admired that even more. 

Tinkerah
Engineer

Many years ago I was assigned to a team to build a Pinewood Derby car because the shop boss wanted to impress some kid's mom. The technology we brought to bear on that thing was criminal: polished "axles" (the nails in the kit you had to use), trued and crowned wheels, CNC profiled body, even a cavity that held steel pins to fine tune the weight on the scale at the event. We never even met the kid. I didn't feel so bad when I found out our car had LOST. None of us could imagine what the winner looked like.
Tcoradeschi
Intermediate Driver

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. When my son was a Cub Scout, one year I decided to build a car for the "everyone else" race. Extended wheelbase, 3 wheel car, etc etc etc. His car (I think he was maybe 9 at the time) beat mine by 2 car lengths. The only thing he did not do on that car was cut the profile of the body (some sketchy Dad handiwork with a jigsaw). Oh and he beat me repeatedly. Every time. Yeah...
Caddylackn
Pit Crew

The only way to make these events fair from the competitors building these off of "once in a lifetime finds"(like a $80 Bradley GT) is to do it like $2000 claimer bracket racing. Anybody can buy your car for $2,000 (minus removable safety equipment). This will really level the playing field and get it back to grass roots racing. Anybody that has ever built a car from parts, know that $2,000 is barely realistic to build and setup a car even if the car and drivetrain are close to free. Have you checked out the price of steel lately? How about the cost of welding and paint supplies?

If this was $2,000 claimer racing and you want to show up with your "$2,000" modified twin turbo corvette, or your 800 hp turbo drag race car; good luck going home with it.
CJinSD
Instructor

Include the safety equipment and make it a $5,000 claimer class. You wouldn't even have to police the budget.
Smasher
Intermediate Driver

Excellent point on the $2000 claimer idea. It does seem like this is subject to abuse with "free" stuff they get. As the story tell us, the entry numbers are falling once one find out it's hopeless in trying to win when someone's company gave them a $10,000 valued car or engine.
Still, it would be fun to watch cars like the vacuum machine or the zamboni make a run.
Tinkerah
Engineer

I was thinking CLAIMER CLASS! before I finished the article.
CJinSD
Instructor

I used to enjoy GRM, but then they came out in favor of Burn Loot Murder and the authoritarians trying to destroy the bill of rights at the SPLC. All they had to do was keep their racist and anti-American impulses to themselves, but that was too much to ask.
bblhed
Instructor

where exactly does one source a Zamboni? Asking for a friend that lives in a neighborhood with a private beach on a lake that freezes that also has private roads you can drive anything on.
Reinhold_Weege
Instructor

Municipal auctions in cities with ice arenas, or I would imagine pretty much any private ice arena.
Smasher
Intermediate Driver
Werblink
Pit Crew

Govdeals.com. It's a nationwide auction site for government entities to sell their surplus items. You can do a location search on this site (within certain miles of your zip code) if you're not interested in long distance travel. And yes, I have seen a Zamboni on there before, along with about anything you could think of.
DaveB
Detailer

that looks like a ton of fun. Wish it were closer or I had more time.
speed6
Pit Crew

Ha! 30 years ago we did something similar at our local drag strip. Even with a LOT of "horse trading" and swap meet / used parts procurement, it was dang near impossible to build a car with the $5k budget we had set.
JonMiller
Intermediate Driver

Low/limited budget racing is an oxymoron. Talent + Time + Money = Fast. It does not matter if you are racing a bicycle, building a pinewood derby car, making a GRM machine, or preparing for LeMans, the equation is usually true.
Bracket drag racing and autocross events are a good way to enjoy racing while not breaking the bank, until you start breaking parts!
Caddylackn
Pit Crew

If you want to watch a good realistic $3k budget drag race, watch the original $3K Hooptie Challenge on Motortrend.  That was a realistic representation of a real $3K challenge.  There were only a few questionable ringers that exceeded the $3K budget, but most of these cars I would no way spend $3K on to buy it from them, except the Caddy powered Gremlin, of course......

MattK
Detailer

The Article states Andrew Nelson's Pontiac Sunfire. The car first pictured in the article is his #7 1980 Pontiac Sunbird, a very different car than a Sunfire.