Today's "Ask Jack" comes from a reader who took my advice in the past—and, somewhat astoundingly, is willing to do it again!
Read the full article on Hagerty.com: https://www.hagerty.com/media/advice/ask-jack/ask-jack-putting-together-a-garage-banned/
Either find out if your local Autocross club holds track days so you can try it out or do a racing school. Buying or building a race car is not for the faint of heart. Want to know how to make a small fortune in racing, Start with a gigantic one. The absolute best way to get into racing is to use a car that you do not own. Even the budget limited 24 hours of Lemons races will end up costing you about $10,000+ for one race and that is if you have the skills to build your own car. If you don't have those skills then it can cost three times that. There are plenty of companies that will let you drive their car on a track for enough laps for you to be happy about it and they will charge you between $500 and $3,500 for the privilege of not having to own, store, transport, and maintain a car. If you don't want to go pro you would be better off getting some friends together, buying a small farm, building a dirt track and buying some beater used cars and spending about $2,000 each on some proper safety equipment. Once you decide you don't want to play race car any more you can sell the farm and get most if not all your money back and you will have some great stories about when you owned a race track.
I would add that he should consider joining the PCA. There he will have the opportunity to get track time with instructors. It will be an easy and affordable way to ease into racing his Boxster.
Jack, I think you went to step 4 by skipping steps 2 and 3.
Step 1 get a good road and track car
Step 2 learn its limits. That's autocross, also where troy will meet many like minded people. Owning a Porsche gets him access to PCA and the people in his region. SCCA and BMWCCA also have autocrosses and great people to guide him. Become active with what you have.
Step 3- Driver education days presented by PCA (BMWCCA wont allow with his rollbar I think). First learn what a lousy driver you are, then improve your skills with what you have. When Troy is ready for R compound tires and a track dedicated car go to step 4.
Oh, by the time he is ready for step 4 he may need a car with a baby seat so the Boxster may be worth its weight in gold since it will be his only toy. BTDT with a 944, now a Cayman.
If you are not already a member, join the Porsche Club of America. Most of their regions across the USA offer High Performance Driver Education events (basically track days) which are fairly inexpensive and usually offer ride-along driver instruction. It is a great way to get introduced to racing for very little money.
Really, you really did say this... "The thing to do here is to start by becoming the fastest driver possible,". So, the first thing you do is set the mind set that FASTEST is best. How about next time try this, "start by becoming the BEST driver possible". A great driver is first and foremost, better than his peers. We see it in all motor sports, the best drivers know their craft better than anyone else and they apply the tools developed in polishing their craft to help themselves be faster. By focusing on being the best, they have learned how to be the fastest.
True. After Troy can get everything out if that street legal Boxster on R comps he should go to the next step. Too many with more money than skill race, while many with superior skill stick to driver education events and race against the stopwatch for bragging rights. Cost a lot less, and cars are less likely to get balled up.
Want to bet Troy doesnt know driver education events exist?
What I am saying is to be fast you have to know the basics, the better you are with them, the more trophies you will bring home. In the article, we are talking about a newbie, a novice, someone who doesn’t know what they don’t know. Like someone once said (Jay Leno?), “Driving fast is like sex, everyone thinks their good at it.” Jack reinforced the thought that it’s all about speed. He could have set a different tone.
The article also set the stage for one of the biggest problems a HPDE Instructor has, the student who thinks it’s all about going fast. But they don’t know how, and if they are not inclined to listen, usually their day will be cut short either by damaging their car or being invited off track.
Hope you had a great Halloween.
I believe the actual quote was from his wife, “Give my old man a copper building large enough to work on chariots, and I shall never receive another Archimedean Screw ”. Hint regarding a set of golf clubs, "not fitting in a Miata" they will fit, easily. As with my Solstice, it's a golf BAG that will not fit. Burlap bags make great Christmas gifts for Miata owners 😉
In the spirit of the old VW "Rabbit Races" I loved at Road America, I humbly suggest filling a road course with Scion xB or Kia Souls, or both combined. Seriously, who wouldn't want to see newbie or professional racers piloting these vehicles around, and into each other?
IF you are not wealthy (as opposed to well-off), start slow. Do not discount club events and autocrossing- harder than it looks! If you don't have a garage, then you will need a place to store car and all the tools you will need to buy. $2000 or so is a good start. If you don't know how to fix, repair, modify a car, then you will need to learn as you go (not cheap), or hire it out ($100/hour or so). The path to becoming the best driver you can be, is knowing and understanding the mechanics of the car (Ref: Ford v. Ferrari).
Follow the slow path to instruction, as maturity processes it all. Unfortunately, you started way too late in life to ever go pro. Not impossible, but highly unlikely. So exactly what are your short term and long term goals? Start there and follow the paths here. BTW, karting has all levels of performance and skill. The younger guys will eat your lunch to start... But that can be a good incentive!
Troy, your comment "Right now in my life I’m single with no kids (I hope to change that)" is the "perfect storm" to end your dreams. As a road racer of 40 years (SCCA, IMSA, SVRA, HMP, etc.), see if you have "the right stuff" by going to an approved and recognized racing school lasting at least 3 days. Brutal ego-busting reckoning will follow if you don't finish in the "top three" of your class. At that juncture, you will know whether to proceed to race, or be content with "track days".
Joining the PCA is a great idea. And Jack should talk to some club members so that he can learn the difference between a first generation Boxster (picture above) and a third generation 2014 Boxster. 😂
I always wanted to be a race driver. Sadly, lack of cash prevented this from happening when young. So, at the ripe age of 47 I finally did it. I started by going to Skip Barber racing school (not what they are now). Did the school in Miata's and Open wheel.
When I went I thought I was a great driver and was going to rip that place apart. Let me just say that getting into an open wheel race care with NO electronic helpers sets you straight very quickly. It was actually pretty scary. But by day two I knew I was going to never get enough.
Moved on to track days with PCA. This is a mixed bag. The events are generally run well (at least in my area) but it took a few events before I got an instructor that could make me better and faster.
Eventually got an oportunity to go to the Porsche Experience in Alabama for a two day school. There was a small group of us with lots of experience on track so we got separated and had a much different two days than the others that attended that class. This may have been the best instruction I have received to date.
Now I run regularly with a ChampCar team. Love it.
After my experiences my advice is not far off from Jack.
Go to school first. As he has said in many articles, street and track are very different.
I'm all for HPDE. All seat time will help.
Once comfortable try and find a ChampCar team looking for drivers. I'm lucky as my team is not too expensive. Some are less some are much more. Try and find a good bunch of guys in a car that fits your budget.
Do NOT get you own race car until you have tried it this way and see what it takes. LOADS of work and money.
Now I just need to find a way to convince Jack to let me come race with him when he needs extra drivers.....Fellow Ohioan...