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Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #119: Making the case AGAINST spec racing... using two Neons?

Question: How is this column like the recorded catalogue of the Beatles? Answer: Beyond the obvious hits, there's far too much drama, self-destructive behavior, indulgence of cutesy ideas, and narcissism masquerading as enlightenment. Also, not everything happens in the order you'd expect. For example.
Intermediate Driver

"A hard-fought and clean battle" is truly one of the best feelings in the world. In the previous century I was a mostly competent regional motocross racer; the two-wheeled equivalent of a club racer I suppose. I led and won a few races from start to finish, but the ones I enjoyed the most and still remember are the ones where I had the kind of battle you describe. Even if it was for last place. Congrats on the loss!
Pit Crew

Even the last sentence was golden. Mazel tov, Jack!
Advanced Driver

Right on Jack.
At the beginning of a Long and Winding Road I raced a 109cc G Prod Sprite against 1147cc Spitfires, 1600 Datsun Roadsters, 1300cc FIAT X/19's, 1390cc Alfa Spiders, etc. It was some of the most ruthless, cutthroat, Helter Skelter racing ever. What a Ticket to Ride!
(sorry I couldn't help it....)

The cold harsh reality is racing takes money. Many are limited to what they spend so spec racing was created to keep full fields.

Now with that said many also fudge the rules in many classes. Some are simple brilliant in what they do. Few challenge as they too are not legal.

As Dale Jr has said if he did not have a crew chief looking for ways around things we would not want him for a crew chief.

Note I am only speaking on mechanical not anything safety related. I do not recommend NOS in the roll bar tubing.

Even in my sons soap box derby racing they were cheating in many ways. Even where the kids are to build the cars with family help. Many resort to paying others to build their cars for them.

We did build our own cars and we did generally stick to the rules and worked in the details that mattered. I once was told by an official our car looked too good in how tongue oil appeared on the main board. I asked where was the rule it said to do a bad job applying it.

While we never really broke any rules we were competitive. We best many of the illegal cars.

Now in stock car racing you had to cheat to survive. We did a number of things but so were most others. When the cars fired up it smelled like an airport due to the Av fuel that we were not to be using.

We were a low buck team but we were smart and used things snd did things we learned from a friend in NASCAR. We scaled and balanced the car in the 70’s when here now one was doing that. The lead weights really got them talking. It took a while before they figured it out. We won some, lost some crashed seldom.


I learned to work to be smarter than your competition, better prepared than the competition and only fudge the rules when you had to or knew it was when everyone else was doing it. 

We mastered a direct drive power glide and won a number of races till it was banned. It’s not illegal if there is no rule against it. 

The race starts at the shop. 


I've watched some classic BTCC touring car racing from the 60s and 70s and completely agree with you. My racing experience is near nonexistent, but I certainly get the most excitement from watching a varied field of cars compete with one another. Some of the 1960s BTCC races I've seen pitted V8 Ford Galaxies and Camaros against Mini Coopers and Lotus Cortinas. Really amazing races with no real clue as to who will come out first even though there were 100s of HP differences between the cars.

I'm pretty sure you can get good racing out of a spec series. The key is to have unlimited horsepower at the end of a throttle cable. Zero electronic engine management combined with more power than you can use at any place on the track will put the racing in the hands of the drivers every time; no matter how identical the cars are.
Intermediate Driver

I got my license back in the day in a Formula V. Raced it to a national license. Never enjoyed the racing. Essentially, after qualifying, and possibly picking off someone at the start, all you could do was hold station and hope the guys ahead screwed up. No amount of stupid bravery could gain you more than a spot or two. It was boring. Much like the old showroom stock or spec racing. I quickly moved to production classes. That was better. But the best was many years of vintage racing. Really. My Turner handled and stopped phenomenally. It was slower on the straights than quick Porsche 356s and Lotus Elites. Fast Minis and Lotus Sevens had their best characteristics. But the lap times were remarkably similar. The racing was great, lots of passing and dicing as each of us made the best of our car's performance.