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Old 06-04-2011, 09:35 AM   #1
PitwrkzZ1
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Default $5000 track car-need ideas and opinions

Last year, I took my Bugeye on track at Lime Rock Park for the first time and had a blast. I want to go again, but I don't like the idea of a double duty track and street car (I know many guys do it, I just don't want to be one of them ). I am toying with the idea of taking an old beater, stripping out the interior, throwing on tires and brakes and safety equipment and making it my dedicated track car.

Easy enough right? Well, like it says in the title, I'm trying to do it for 5k or less. I'm not looking for any high hp applications, just something that is cheap on consumables, and will help me develop as a driver. I eventually want to get into club racing, so I'm considering a few specific cars-Miata (duh), E30 325i, and older Civics. If I decide to go into club racing I can build the Miata into a SM, the E30 into a Spec E30 and run the Civic in Honda Challenge. However, that is very far down the road...I know people say never to build your own racecar, but I'm a mechanical engineering student, and the build would be half the fun for me.

So has anyone undertaken anything like this? I have yet to price it out completely, but I think it may be doable as long as I do all the work on the car myself, which isn't a problem. Any thoughts?
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Old 06-04-2011, 09:52 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PitwrkzZ1 View Post
Last year, I took my Bugeye on track at Lime Rock Park for the first time and had a blast. I want to go again, but I don't like the idea of a double duty track and street car (I know many guys do it, I just don't want to be one of them ). I am toying with the idea of taking an old beater, stripping out the interior, throwing on tires and brakes and safety equipment and making it my dedicated track car.

Easy enough right? Well, like it says in the title, I'm trying to do it for 5k or less. I'm not looking for any high hp applications, just something that is cheap on consumables, and will help me develop as a driver. I eventually want to get into club racing, so I'm considering a few specific cars-Miata (duh), E30 325i, and older Civics. If I decide to go into club racing I can build the Miata into a SM, the E30 into a Spec E30 and run the Civic in Honda Challenge. However, that is very far down the road...I know people say never to build your own racecar, but I'm a mechanical engineering student, and the build would be half the fun for me.

So has anyone undertaken anything like this? I have yet to price it out completely, but I think it may be doable as long as I do all the work on the car myself, which isn't a problem. Any thoughts?
Cage or bolt-in bar? If just a bolt in, sure do it yourself. If it's a cage, you're going to have to have someone do it for you, and it will kill your budget.
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Old 06-04-2011, 10:16 AM   #3
greg donovan
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I think a fox body mustang might do the trick. NASA even has a spec series for them. Sure they are low tech. but that also makes them cheap.
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:20 PM   #4
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If you are doing weld in cage your best bet would be to check Honda tech and grab a cheep teg or civic for the track that is already done.
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:32 PM   #5
Psyklon
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Get a good deal on a RS or even an L. Do some delta cams, and some suspension/ handling as needed.

BMW 3 Series maybe.
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Old 06-04-2011, 06:45 PM   #6
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E-30 bmw. They have a spec series and you can find millions in the junkyards.
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:34 PM   #7
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VW golf.
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:02 PM   #8
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$5000 to spend? Go with the Miata, best bang for the buck. It's a sick handling car for those who can fit in it. Just down on power but that can always be fixed. SCCA class championships speaks for itself.
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Old 06-04-2011, 10:53 PM   #9
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My opinion, you better off buying a turn-key ready to go car with all the tech notes that has log book either in SCCA or NASA. You'll spend more time driving and less time wrenching unless you are more into building car rather than driving the car.

You can find turn-key car over at NASA forums. This has been the experience for me. As a matter of fact, I rather driving my car rather than wrenching my race car right now.
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Old 06-04-2011, 11:00 PM   #10
greg donovan
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What class has the best competition at the tracks around you? Find a car that fits into that class and go out there and get your butt kicked and learn a ton.
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Old 06-04-2011, 11:03 PM   #11
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I've owned race cars since 1976. Buy a built car. I know you want to do your own work, don't worry you still will. Mug23 is right, get a car you can drive now and work on later, not the other way around.
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Old 06-05-2011, 12:38 AM   #12
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since you aren't looking to fall into a particular class for a few years, I'd say go with a car that has been at least partially track-prepped with a cage in it. Then depending on the car, you can work on the suspension or power a bit, or even the aero to get your builder fix but still get out driving relatively soon in a caged track car.

then spend your off-track time getting to know some of the local club racers and organizations over the next couple years. by the time you're ready to race in a few years, you'll have a better idea of what class you might be interested in racing in, whether you can build your car into that or need to start a new one.
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Old 06-05-2011, 02:53 AM   #13
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Buy a miata. Upgrade suspension/brakes/tires. Kick ass.
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Old 06-05-2011, 09:31 AM   #14
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REALLY appreciate all the replies guys. I was planning on doing a bolt in cage. If I could find a car with a cage I would look into it, but I feel like that would put me way over budget. A racecar doesn't really make sense for me at this point because I would need a tow vehicle and a trailer, more expense. I want something that I can drive to and from track days. I already have and love my bugeye as a DD and autocross car.

Fox body mustang is an interesting idea. I'll definitely have to look into it.

From an autotrader search, there are a whole lot more Miatas than E30s areound here. SM is a very popular class in NYR and NE SCCA.

As far as building my own racecar...It would be VERY far down the line, but I really think it would be something I would enjoy (probably because I haven't had the chance to drive yet, so I don't know what I'm missing )
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Old 06-05-2011, 12:49 PM   #15
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I'm in this same boat. I want to build a car to drive on the track, but would still like to be able to keep it street legal enough to drive it to the track for now. I have a tow vehicle, but no trailer. This is really making me consider a miata though. I wanted an s2k, but they are a bit on the spendy side and at this point I don't have any track experience. I'd like to buy something just to get on the track with. I love my Subie and really don't wanna wreck it. The consensus here is if you want a "real" track car, to have someone else do the hard work, because I know nothing about welding.
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Old 06-05-2011, 02:19 PM   #16
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i run a fox body mustang in ChumpCar & Lemons. you can update the car to 96 mustang brakes / a arms / 4 wheel disks very reasonably. you can make or buy a watts link, weld a cage in and go racing.
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Old 06-05-2011, 06:10 PM   #17
PitwrkzZ1
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I've put together a list of mods for a Miata (prices from saferacer, tirerack and flyin miata):
Sparco Sprint V seat (x2) $638
G Force 6pt camlock harness (x2) $310
Harddog Rollbar $465
Star Specs in OE size $396
Hawk Race Pads $215
Rotors $86
Fluids ~$150
Total: $2260 (shipping not included)

Note that these prices are all for new equipment, without really shopping around. I would also need two seats and harnesses because I'd be with an instructor. So this leaves $2740 for a running car which I think is doable of you're patient and shop around.
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Old 06-05-2011, 09:00 PM   #18
0100
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Miata
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:32 AM   #19
BoboTheMonkey
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I'm convinced now that I'm going to sell the cycle and buy a Miata as soon as I get a 2 car garage again. My plan was to strip it down to essentials for weight savings too, so you could sell some of that stuff to get back a bit of cash to reinvest. Found some nice ones on Autotrader for about 6k. I could live with an 8k car that you could totally thrash.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PitwrkzZ1 View Post
I've put together a list of mods for a Miata (prices from saferacer, tirerack and flyin miata):
Sparco Sprint V seat (x2) $638
G Force 6pt camlock harness (x2) $310
Harddog Rollbar $465
Star Specs in OE size $396
Hawk Race Pads $215
Rotors $86
Fluids ~$150
Total: $2260 (shipping not included)

Note that these prices are all for new equipment, without really shopping around. I would also need two seats and harnesses because I'd be with an instructor. So this leaves $2740 for a running car which I think is doable of you're patient and shop around.
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:56 PM   #20
Greyman09
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I went the miata route. Go with the Miata. I moved from HPDE to TT. So many options that fit a miata. Aftermarket support is huge. Easy on consumables. The Miata has also made me a better driver than my EVO or M3.
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:06 PM   #21
REX8
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Since you're not going W2W yet, Miata + bolt in bar it is!
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:27 PM   #22
BoboTheMonkey
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The only other thing I can see needing is a suspension. so another 600 or so for a set of springs and struts or maybe even another 1000 if you wanted some cheap coils.
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:45 PM   #23
jasper24
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N/A 944 for sure. It is a perfect track car. Cheap, easy to work on, no turbo which means a lot less to go wrong, and a momentum car that will make you a better driver.

Once you learn how to drive them, they can be very fast. My father just set the 944 spec recored at Lime Rock with a time of 1:01.04. Not bad for a 144HP car lol.
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:00 AM   #24
Scooby921
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PitwrkzZ1 View Post
I've put together a list of mods for a Miata (prices from saferacer, tirerack and flyin miata):
Sparco Sprint V seat (x2) $638
G Force 6pt camlock harness (x2) $310
Harddog Rollbar $465
Star Specs in OE size $396
Hawk Race Pads $215
Rotors $86
Fluids ~$150
Total: $2260 (shipping not included)

Note that these prices are all for new equipment, without really shopping around. I would also need two seats and harnesses because I'd be with an instructor. So this leaves $2740 for a running car which I think is doable of you're patient and shop around.
I picked up my 1990 Miata for $2000. Needed suspension, steering rack, tires, a windshield, and a new top. Body was in good shape aside from dents or dings and some cracks in the bumper. It came out of Texas, so there is almost no body rust. Keep your eyes open and you'll find a good deal. I saw one listed locally for $3000 with under 150k miles and it had a hard top. If you find one with a hard top and decide not to keep the top they seem to fetch $800-1000 used, which would certainly help fund other parts .
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:51 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rigpin View Post
E-30 bmw. They have a spec series and you can find millions in the junkyards.
This, E30s are abundent and you usually score a specE30 for relatively a good price that's already built. Parts are cheap and easy to find and they're a blast to drive.
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