Does anyone here actually race cars?

So, me and some buddies have a group chat going, and we were discussing what motorsports stuff we want to do next year. This year was spent primarily karting with the OVKA, and next year I’m definitely putting forth more effort to hit up other tracks and series … thats also made me realize its been over a year since I’ve done an actual track day with my Toyota. But I’m kind of at a crossroads because I definitely get more of a rush wheel to wheel karting vs HPDE’s or autocross. I feel like the only thing that can “top” karting is wheel to wheel racing in a car.

Which leads me to my main question, does anyone here actually race cars? If so, what class and/or series do you run? And does the race-craft in karting translate to w2w in a car?

I have several friends that do the whole Time Attack thing with the SCCA and GridLife, but I don’t really know anyone who does any real w2w racing.

This is me and my AE86 at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green KY.


I did for a while in the naughties some open wheel and tin top. This year autoX’d my M5, but wouldn’t call that racing. It was so damn comfortable to drive though and I did really enjoy hanging out with car people which I didn’t know how that would work out for me honestly.

I’ve found it hard to beat karting for convenience, competition/grid sizes, availability of track time, proximity, the driving experience and general value for dollars.

Gridlife and drifting are VERY appealing to me and I have a stretch goal to do a NASCAR Xfinity race for my 50th in 2040 as a grid filler. Would have to be a road course unless I’m able to find a way to up my oval game. With me being Irish, the allure of something as ridiculous as NASCAR is strong. Figure I’d rather do that vs some driving experience in a neutered vehicle.


The autocross crowd is so interesting … I did a full season in my Toyota and they get so competitive and detailed, all to race around cones in 2nd gear. I had fun because it was something to do on a Sunday morning but I didn’t know anything about karting at the time.

Not going to lie I had to google “Tin Top”, never heard that term before, but that’s the kind of racing I’m curious about!

I went the other way… from autocross, where I learned car control, to road racing (I crewed for a owner/driver at regional and national road racing events along with the Runoffs - he gave me a car to use to get my competition license) to karts. We ran tin top first generation Honda CRXs in GT4/HP/ITB/ITC.

To me, the vibe of the paddock in grassroots racing is very similar. Generally, everyone does their best to help other competitors out. I have lots of stories of competitors helping/being helped out from my years crewing everything from regional SCCA races to the Runoffs to 24 hour endurance races. I have gotten lots of help at my club track as I get up to speed in a kart. Once I start nipping at the fast guys’ heels though, all bets are off!

All what @KartingIsLife said is true. I’ve seen what it costs to run a season of tin tops in SCCA IT or HP. I can run most of a season of club kart races with a couple bigger events thrown in for about the cost of a set of tires for the CRXs. I can fit two karts and all our equipment in a 6x12 trailer and pull it with our Ford Flex. I’m in karting because it fits my needs and budget.


I don’t race sprint karts anymore but did from 1999 to 2022. Now I’m running a vintage Formula Ford. The race craft and understanding the written and unwritten rules of racing etiquette (seems like the wrong word to use in conjunction with racing) are all useable. Situational awareness experience (no mirrors) as a karter really helps, as there are winged cars that are much faster on the track at the same time.

The driving experience is different because of the speeds and potential costs associated with loss of control to your car and competitor’s car, so the risk is much higher and more so for open wheel cars than closed wheel cars. The seriousness of an big error such as going off track at 110 MPH in a vehicle that weighs 1000 lbs is more than with a kart that has a top speed of 60MPH and weighs 350 lbs but that is what makes it interesting.


How much are we talkin’? Obviously I know its a lot more than karting, but those are the kinds of classes I’ve always wanted to partake in.

Now that’s awesome! what kind of engines do those have?

Besides the “change of pace”, Is it safe to say that your years of karting helped your confidence the first time you raced one of those? For example compared to someone who’s never been wheel to wheel before?

Now that’s awesome! what kind of engines do those have?

1600 cc Ford 115 HP

Here’s a link to one race.

Besides the “change of pace”, Is it safe to say that your years of karting helped your confidence the first time you raced one of those? For example compared to someone who’s never been wheel to wheel before?

Yes, karting helped big time. Mind you I’m racing with a bunch of old farts like me but I was competitive pretty much right at the start and won a few. I’d say that the your karting provides the wheel to wheel experience and the Time Attack experience provides the big car roading racing part of the equation.

My memory is the cost was on the high side of 15k for a season but that was a long time ago and includes having to rebuild a car we just built (literally - finished the car on Thursday evening and it was upside down into the tires four turns into the feature on Sunday). Larry’s point regarding speed and risk is a good one. You have to be willing and able to write off the car at anytime. Crash damage can be a pretty big line item in the budget. If you tweak the frame… :scream: If you’re racing a production based car you can reduce some of the cost by finding donor cars for parts although you’ll always buy some things new… braking systems and components come to mind. Backing a car into the tires is a potentially much more expensive proposition in a car than a kart.

The best way to get a grip on costs would be to go to a nearby regional or national SCCA or NASA race and talk to some of the drivers/owners of cars in the classes you think you might like to run. They can give you an idea of the costs these days.

As always, speed is money… how fast do you want to go?

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I used to but budget was me working and paying out of pocket. So very few events and then I found the competition at the level I could afford pretty lacking. I imagine SCCA National events would be a blast but budget plus time off was never going to happen. Karting 10/10 is way more fun at way better budget. I have a fleet of nice cars and I have absolutely zero want to go racing with any of them. I do absolutely enjoy them as street cars though.

I spent as much on a single event back in 2004ish as I do for an entire season in 206 of around 16 races.


Moved into cars in 2021, good portion of a formula ford season that year and two weekends of spec miata to get my FIA license. Then did a full season of the National British Formula Ford Championship in 2022. Now working on getting sponsorships together to race USF2000 or GB3.


I did a lot of car racing, but almost all on the oval / nascar side. Karting absolutely translated and taught me tons of great fundamentals.

I don’t get auto cross. Similar to drag racing. I think it’s cool and interesting but I just….I can’t see myself participating. I’m happy those people are out enjoying cars and a car related sport however.

I’ve talked to a few autocrossers and they’re so funny talking about the prospect of wheel to wheel racing. ‘Gasp,’ “I would never do something so dangerous!” I get it I guess but….it’s so fun!

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My friends and I did ChumpCar about 10 years ago for a while, and while it was a blast, it’s a ton of money and time keeping used-up street cars race ready.

I’ve also done some auto-X and HPDEs at a number of tracks (Putnam, ViR, Road Atlanta) and while also very fun, you can never truly drive flat-out 10/10ths when you’re tracking your Daily. While working on technique is fun, it’s missing the wheel-to-wheel rush you get from actual racing.

For my money and time, nothing beats karting for the rush and sense of speed, and everything is much simpler to disassemble and inspect or replace to keep up reliability.


I have raced Spec Racer Ford and Spec Miata. I think both are great classes. You can manage your costs much better in Spec Miata. Spec Racer Ford is all sealed and they are in process of changing to sequential shift transmission that I think is something like $12k. With Spec Miata you can do the work yourself and only spend in areas where you need to advance your program. Both are great racing with good numbers at most tracks. Any other class in SCCA you have to do your research or you are likely to find yourself racing no one.

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As much as I really enjoyed Spec Miata I am glad to be back in karts. I am racing Margay Ignite LO206 class and Margay’s new Ignite 100 VLR class for much less than I raced Spec Miata. And I raced Spec Miata on a compromised budget. At June Sprints I used basically 1.5 sets of tires at about $1k a set. Many around me ran 4 or 5 sets. The Runoffs at Indy in Spec Racer Ford cost me more than $5k and nothing went wrong and I did not do the extra practice days. But I have a picture of me racing accross the yard of bricks. That is so cool!


This statement is an interesting one for me. Ive always viewed spec miata as my “end goal” when it comes to wheel to wheel racing. A big part of the reason why i started karting was so i can get cheap seat time, learn how to race, etc. So eventually i can make the switch to cars.

Its the weirdest thing ever. There’s two local guys that are BIGGGG into the SCCA Time Attack stuff. They both run k-swapped miatas and it seems like they’re always breaking track records. One guy was like “hell no, thats too dangerous”, and the other is like “ehh, It’d be cool for my son”. In my head im just thinking “why be so hesitant?! Its too much fun!”

On a general note, i appreciate the input everyone! Seems like the general consensus is “im not missing anything” when it comes to wanting to race cars. Maybe someday i’ll hit the lottery, but for now i think im just going to stick to karting haha

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This might be a dumb and loaded question, but how does the whole sponsorship thing work? Especially on their end, like, what are they getting out of sponsoring someones racing career?

Ive always been curious about that side of racing.

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Well, I get the head scratching about autocross, but that’s pretty much where I’m at with my karting, actually. It’s my 7th year karting and I apparently don’t have enough desire to get myself racing, but I’ve been having a great time nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get to this point overnight - I spent a lot of years competing in various wheeled-sports and these days I’m just not eager to thrown down with randoms over a $20 plastic trophy. Plus I’ve injured myself quite a bit over the years doing said competition, and that got old too (and expensive). So far - zero injuries autocrossing my kart.

As a not-small added bonus, I can run whatever equipment I want for pennies on the dollar compared to if I had to be legal/competitive for a specific class. In fact, I’ve often thought about trying to help promote this type of karting activity, because I think there’s a lot people who might be interested, and whole area of the market that is not served at all right now on any organized level.

There are threads on this. In any racing that does not have fans in attendance it is difficult to make it valuable for a sponsor. I saw one guy that did by putting together a lot of social media content. He rode the “sponsorship” not necessarily as money all the way to a job with Skip Barber.

It’s important to also consider the whole experience related to what car you want to race W2W vs a kart. For example, exiting a massively responsive kart to get into something like a formula ford might feel reasonably close to a like-for-like experience (with the FF = L206 or so).

Getting into a miata may leave you wanting more… more responsiveness, more cornering capability, more speed, even if the racing is good.

I raced FF many, many moons ago. After I got married, and had a son, I still had the itch, so my wife said I could race “something safe.” Pro7 (spec series for 1st gen RX7s - the predecessor to spec miata) was big in my area at the time, so I got a car and started racing. It was fun for sure, and the racing was good, but wheeling a production car was just not the same as a formula car. After going to a bunch of races and seeing that the formula classes were not the “crash & burn every turn” deal she imagined, she agreed to me getting a FF. I was back home, and all was right with the world. :grin:


I’ve always felt it’s better to do sim work and save for an MX5 than doing karts if that’s what you truly want.

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