How old is too old to start racing?

Discussion in 'Tracking & Driver Education' started by davemqv, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. Nuvolari

    Nuvolari F1 Veteran
    Sponsor Owner

    Sep 3, 2002
    Toronto / SoCal
    Full Name:
    Rob C.
    There are drivers who earn their primary living from driving a racing car and although the number is so small that it is almost a statistical anomaly it IS POSSIBLE and it does happen. That said the drivers that do get paid ALL started before their 30's and a LOT of money needs to be spent before anyone will consider paying you to race. Even so it takes a TON of work and a good dose of luck to end up in a position where you get paid and in most instances the fate of a paid driver is often in the hands of the racing program that is paying him. Even among paid drivers the number of drivers who would be in demand if their current gig closes shop is even rarer still. In the world of sportscar racing you can probably count these guys without taking off your shoes :)
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  3. fatbillybob

    fatbillybob Two Time F1 World Champ
    Consultant Owner

    Aug 10, 2002
    That's why there are so many coaches. It takes more than just being fast or a pro racer to be a good teacher
  4. mclaudio

    mclaudio Formula 3

    Dec 13, 2003
    Seattle area
    Full Name:
    How old is too old?

    If racing is in your bucket list, I say do it! At least, try it and see if you like it. There are relatively economical ways to go.

    Started racing in my twenties. I thought I was fast when I did ok in club racing. Realized I was a mid-packer at best when racing against others with career aspirations since 6 years old. I still wanted to be in racing so I worked in the pro racing industry as data geek and eventually race engineer. Then went back to the business world and ran motorsports-related businesses. Best experiences I've ever had. It does get very political in top tier racing - not too dissimilar from other industries.

    Each one of us has our own journey. Go for it!
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  5. Manda racing

    Manda racing Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Feb 25, 2015
    Bakersfield, Ca
    Full Name:
    #29 Manda racing, Jan 8, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
  6. Lotaz

    Lotaz Formula 3

    Nov 18, 2016
    Las Vegas
    Full Name:
    I started at 44 in Karts, it was a blast and taught me a lot. You can have a ton of fun with not much in funds. I started in 1/8 mile dirt tracks and went from there. Also auto-x is a blast to do. These are good ways to get your feet wet and see how well you like it with not much investment.
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  8. fatbillybob

    fatbillybob Two Time F1 World Champ
    Consultant Owner

    Aug 10, 2002
    Calclub of scca owns Buttomwillow minutes ftom bakersfield. Get licensed and come race. Most of the club are old guys who can afford to race.
  9. davemqv

    davemqv F1 Rookie

    Aug 28, 2014
    Full Name:
    Thanks everyone.

    Just to be clear, I don't expect anyone to ever pay me to race!

    My dream would be to have an old 911, drive it to the track. race it, and drive home at the end of the day.

    Not sure where one keeps the spare tires though!
  10. Ky1e

    Ky1e Formula 3

    Mar 4, 2011
    ProCoach had a great response and was spot on.

    I'd like to add a couple things. If you want to race your own car you are looking at about $10K per event (at min) that is if you did everything yourself. If you have a team support you and do the work its more like $15K for a typical PCA event in a Cayman or 911.

    If you want the most economical way to race then a Skip Barber Series, Lucas Oil Racing School Series or something like that is the way to go. Arrive and drive. Everyone is driving the identical small formula open wheel car that that the series supplies, you dont have any car, prep, consumables expense. It is excellent competition and will only cost about $3500-$5000 for a 3 day event.

    My advice is start with DE days at Chin with your own daily driver, then if you still like it, goto a Skip Barber or Lucas Oil racing school for 3 days to get your racing license to get your feet wet and see if you like that. If you are on a budget stick with the racing school series and do some races. If you have $200K+ in your budget buy a used race car for $50-$80K, hire a team to prep and manage your car and do PCA events.

    I agree that most in PCA and other gentleman race series are in their 40's-60's. I did my first DE event 18 months ago at 47, bought first race car 13 months ago, race license 10 months ago. Since then done ~50 races in 12 events (race events are usually ~3 days), plus another 24 test and practices days. I would guess about 75 days on track and am now in the Continental Series competing against talented pro's.
  11. singletrack

    singletrack F1 Veteran

    Mar 16, 2011
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Never too old as others have said. My advice is to focus on having fun and your game. You can't have preconceived notions about what results will make you happy. You can't control results, only your effort and skills.

    I highly recommend the Lucas school as a first stop as others have mentioned. It's a great platform and has a tremendous culture. Please feel free to ask questions or PM me. I probably have more seat time with them than just about anyone.
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  13. GTS Bruce

    GTS Bruce Pisses in your Cheerios

    Oct 10, 2012
    Orchard Park NY
    Full Name:
    Bruce Roche
    I would stay away from Karts. Karts are fast,fun,a great wheel to wheel experience BUT they have no suspension and literally beat the crap out of you. Maybe you can handle the beating, maybe not. Give it a try. Track days and maybe hooking up with chump car might be a good testing experience. GTS Bruce
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  14. gatorgreg

    gatorgreg Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Dec 13, 2004
    Procoach advice is good. Try a racing school.
  15. spicedriver

    spicedriver F1 Rookie

    Feb 1, 2011

    In order to drive a street car on a track, you are going to have to at least upgrade the brakes. Stock brakes won't last very long on a race track. Then you could probably do some sort of "track days", where street cars are allowed on the track, and it's basically a lapping session.

    For wheel to wheel competition, most sanctioning bodies are going to require extensive safety equipment on the car. E.g. full roll cage, fire suppression system, etc. In order to be competitive you're going to need to run slicks. So the car is really not streetable at that point. Most wheel to wheel race cars show up on a trailer.

    Maybe just put a roll bar on so you can do SCCA Solo 1, and some track days events. SCCA Solo 2 (autocross) only requires a helmet.
  16. innerloop

    innerloop Karting

    Jan 17, 2010
    Houston Heights, TX
    I am a big convert when it comes to the fun of Chump/LeMons racing. At first I was dismissive of them as just a bunch of guys flinging crap cars around. But now after doing four races in 2016, I am a fan. I still miss the competitive feedback of a spec racing series (i.e. where I can measure my competitiveness based on my driving ability and not any differences in the cars' performances), but it is a great way to get on track and really race as opposed to track days which I have also done and do not enjoy.

    For the OP specifically, I would say that Chump car also would give you an idea of the commitment required to go racing. There is all of the time and money preparing the car before the race, the time of the race weekend itself plus the travel back and forth to the track, and all of the other activities and hobbies that you're going to miss because of the time spent in the garage and at the track... it can be an eye opening experience.

    But hey, if you can con two or three of your buddies into joining you it can be great fun. Buy or build a car for safety and reliability. Hopefully one of you already has a truck or SUV big enough to tow with so then you just need a trailer. After that you'll need some pit equipment and logistical stuff and assembling that stuff will give you more of an idea of what it takes to run a racing effort.
  17. JV's89

    JV's89 F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Jul 18, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Full Name:
    While more physical than cars, driven properly, karts don't necessarily beat you up. A good rib vest and a day or two of coaching should be enough to get you started without too much trauma. :)
  18. fluque

    fluque Formula 3

    Jul 30, 2004
    Above 2240m
    Full Name:
    Depends on the class. There are 4 stroke don't have much torque and are easy with the body. A 125cc shifter is tougher if you are not in some shape but it will be sometime for a rookie to move up the ladder anyway.

    Unless you have particular health issue IMO karts should be just fine. I have a back ailment and never had an problem driving a European shifter kart with lots of torque.

    As JV's89 said, get a good rib protector.
  19. davem

    davem F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Jan 21, 2002
    Stepford, Connecticut
    Full Name:
    dave m
  20. Ky1e

    Ky1e Formula 3

    Mar 4, 2011
  21. ProCoach

    ProCoach F1 Veteran

    Sep 15, 2004
    VIR Raceway
    Full Name:
    This is correct. At the ROAR, out of the hundreds of drivers there, there were less than three dozen who earn their primary living and would be hired without hesitation should their current ride go away.

    There is a subgroup that brings sponsorship money to the team, be it their own money or someone elses, and THIS group is the meat of the pro racing sandwich.
  22. ProCoach

    ProCoach F1 Veteran

    Sep 15, 2004
    VIR Raceway
    Full Name:

    And you ARE COMPETITIVE with these talented pros!

    That's the cool thing. Pro's bleed red like everyone else.

    I've been impressed not only by your rapid progress, but even out of the box, you were a lot better than the average duffer. <grin>

    Good luck this year. David Russell is such an asset, just like Chris is...
  23. spirot

    spirot F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed

    Dec 12, 2005
    Full Name:
    Tom Spiro
    I'm 49 - and fat, and I run in karting ... Lo206 - and have done some odd Tag stuff... its fun, I'm usually the slowest guy out there in the races - I'm carrying an extra 50Lbs over the rest of the class, but even then I've finished on the podium... Karts are a lot of effort physically... but its good effort. if you do a Tag Kart - its way faster driving than you get in a car... perhaps not ultimately as fast, but you are always moving... and the cost of karts are a LOT lower.

    I did the Formula Renault thing when I was in 20... and while I was ok... I was not great... so as sad as that is to realize, I saw how being a pro driver is WORK. teams don't hire you to have fun, they hire to you win.

    All that being said - you are never too old to start racing!

  24. drcollie

    drcollie Karting

    Dec 15, 2013
    Racing is not an age-thing. What it is (as others have said) is 1) Money 2) Maintenance and most of all 3) Time. And it's the # 3 that is the most difficult to manage.

    When you buy a race car, and the support truck and trailer, you leave out on a Friday afternoon to go to the track and stay there until late Sunday Afternoon. And that's just the time-on-track part of it. During the week you have to work on the car, or drop it off at a shop of your choice and have the maintenance done, which is pretty extensive even when something doesn't break. Tires and brakes evaporate pretty fast.

    Also, if you crash (and you will) then you are out-of-pocket for repairs. No insurance covers it and if you race a uni-body car rather that a tube-frame they are pricey to fix.

    The notion of owning and running a race car is very romantic, but the reality is it can ruin your family life and marriage as it dominates most all the spare time and spare money in the household.

    What I would suggest is you start by signing up for a race series where the turnkey cars are provided. Everyone knows about Skip Barber, but Bertil Roos is less money and you'll have just as much fun. Want to go racing? Write the check and show up and get your car. End of the day, hand it back to them and go home. It may seem expensive at first, but its far cheaper and hugely less time consuming than owning your own. Plus they are spec cars, so you're not chasing the cheaters trying to field a Top 5 car. If you find out its not for you, there is nothing to dispose of, you just don't return. Also, these little Formula cars are SO much fun, but won't beat you to death like Karting. If you blow the engine up, no problem - they give you another car. What could be better than that?

    Try one. Start out with a single training day and see what you think. Highly Recommended and their home base is Pocono, so not too far from you OP. I've no affiliation with Roos other than being a very satisfied customer along with a number of my friends.
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    WILLIAM H Three Time F1 World Champ

    Nov 1, 2003
    Victory Circle
    Full Name:
    #47 WILLIAM H, Jan 12, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    I did a season of Formula Ford w Skip Barber when I was 20. Been doing track days since I was 25.

    In my 30s did a season in Argentina in a. Ford Falcon

    I got a lot more serious around 50 w my Corvette Daytona Prototype. Love this car and we have lots of fun.

    40 is no problem, I'd guess 70 is too old to start
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
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  26. ProCoach

    ProCoach F1 Veteran

    Sep 15, 2004
    VIR Raceway
    Full Name:
    I think Dennis Macchio, the excellent principal and owner of the Bertil Roos School, is moving much of the bulk of the school to Dominion Raceway in Fredericksburg, VIRginia, just south of D.C. Great guy, great option.

    Just learned today that the Lucas School cars are getting Cooper slicks for 2017! This will make a good car even better!

    No shortage of choices, but I think the most important realization is that you don't have to "go pro" or even choose that track in order to a) go racing and b) have fun.

    I've noticed in some threads in several forums in answer to the OP's question, that some (a very few, but strident) posters lead people to believe that if they don't do it at a high level, with big commitment and a large budget, that doing it at all is a waste of time. And that's just NOT true.

    Over 100,000 people on any given weekend are doing ride and drives, HPDE events or club racing around this great country, and almost all are just having fun doing it, with no expectations or insecurity because they're not doing it "at the highest level."

    The most common comment I hear when working with clients starting in their forties, fifties, sixties and seventies is "why didn't I do this sooner?" :D
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  27. bpu699

    bpu699 F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Dec 9, 2003
    Full Name:
  28. UConn Husky

    UConn Husky F1 Rookie

    Nov 11, 2006
    Full Name:
    Dave, come on up to Lime Rock, they have a fun autocross up there...not your standard cones and parking lot. You get in A LOT of laps to see what works on each corner...very cheap and easy to get started. Then step up to some track days there, there's many clubs you can run with.

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