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opinion on track car?

Discussion in 'Tracking & Driver Education' started by Hawkeye, Dec 20, 2009.

  1. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye F1 Rookie
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    #1 Hawkeye, Dec 20, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
    Greetings,

    2009 was my first year doing DE events. Considering that I am a novice, I would like to buy a track car for 2010 and would like your opinion. In 2009 I used my '09 Scuderia on the track, however, it's an expensive option if something goes wrong.

    I'm looking for a track car because I want more safety features as I plan on doing more events and learning much more about driving from instructors. The question is, what car should I look at from a beginners standpoint?

    For a novice, is it a waste of money to buy a used 430 challenge? Should I or would you start with a 355 or 360 challenge? I'd have a trailer and spares but not likely that I will have technicians nor a crew of any kind. I really want to have fun, learn the most I can about my capabilities and driving and have the safety features of a car set up for the track. I plan on doing around 20 track days in 2010.

    As a side note, my instructor said it's a lot of fun to learn to make a slower car go fast, to understand the racing line and make up the "displacement difference" in the turns. I tracked a 911 for the first half and the Scuderia the second half. With the Porsche, I felt I was driving at 10/10 of my capabilities and it was not that much fun. With the Scuderia, I felt much better, more comfortable and enjoyed the experience. I don't know if was a weight and balance issue (with the 911) or the fact that you have to be (mentally) a few seconds more ahead of the 911 on a track.

    Thanks in advance for your opinion among the 355, 360 and 430,

    Chad
     
  2. ProCoach

    ProCoach F1 Veteran
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    Chad, it is not a waste of money to buy a used 430 Challenge car for twenty days a year on track. You'll find the car is more than up to it and far more of a proper learning environment than any street car. There is a lot to be said for proper seats, pedal arrangement, harnesses and safety equipment, especially if you're willing to make that time commitment on track.

    While I agree with your instructor that learning how to drive a slower car fast is invaluable, I believe that comfort and safety in the learning environment is paramount, and your experience with the 911 proves this. If you can do it, go for the 430 Challenge. You learn the same techniques whether you're in a Miata or a Challenge car. In the end, they're ALL momentum cars... :D

    The older cars are just that, older. More running costs and less capabilities. Just my .02

    Best, Peter
     
  3. pad

    pad Formula 3

    Sep 30, 2004
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    Buy a Z06 and with about $5K worth of upgrades (brakes, seats, harness, wheel and tires, and suspension upgrades), you'll be way ahead (pun intented).
     
  4. b-mak

    b-mak F1 Veteran

    Chad, buy whatever you like, you'll be happy that way.

    After that, be sure to pay for quality instruction from someone like Peter. Being taught to drive by volunteer instructors is like having Napoleon Dynamite give you tips on how to make love to a woman.
     
  5. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Three Time F1 World Champ
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    All --

    Way back when, I was first staring over the abyss, I talked to one of the top spec miata racers. When I asked him about his car, he said, "I hate it. POS. But, then again, why would anyone race a car they liked? Every time I race, I'm doing my best to destroy the car."

    Think about it.

    Dale
     
  6. KKRace

    KKRace Formula 3

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    I wonder what the same guy would recomend in this situation? My guess is he, like most other guys with a lot of track experience would recomend the Miata. I'm not a fan of production based track cars but if you are looking for a car that you can drive hard and learn a lot you can't beat the Miata. Even if you have a hard on for a Ferrari spend a year in the Miata and you will learn a lot and not go broke for making a few mistakes on track.

    For the price of a Challange car you could get 4 or 5 incredible racecars that will outperform any production based car. I think a lot of guys get intimidated by racecars and feel like they would be safer and more comfortable in a production based car and that they can just take it to the local dealer for service. I would not take any track car to my local dealer/shop unless I was sure they had experience with racing. The more HP the car has the longer it will take to learn to be a decent driver.

    I started racing in a Trans Am car but I didn't start to learn how to drive until I started racing a formula ford with a weak engine.
     
  7. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Three Time F1 World Champ
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    I'm still trying to keep my eyeballs focused with a SFR. Real race cars don't have doors.

    Jesus H Christ. How did you live to tell this story? :)

    Dale
     
  8. fastback33

    fastback33 Formula 3
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    Hint: buy a kart.

    It's cheap (compared to a 430 or any other car for that matter). And you can get the same skills from it that you would in a car, in fact, You will probably learn everything much faster, and better than in a car. (for a novice)
     
  9. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye F1 Rookie
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    :)
     
  10. Aedo

    Aedo F1 Rookie

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    I know I'm biased but what about an Elise or Exige? Entry cost is low as are consumables (a 900kg car doesn't wear out brakes and tyres as quickly as a 1300kg car). It is a modern and safe chassis with a mid mounted engine (no offense to spec miata owners - but they aren't!) so more comparable to your Scud. If you want track only you could go for a 2-Eleven which is lighter and faster than both the Elise and Exige...

    Just food for thought :)
     
  11. enjoythemusic

    enjoythemusic F1 World Champ

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    Agree, Miata so you can learn to drive the lines and carry speed. You are learning....

    But i know, some guys think it must be a FAST car to learn on a Vette or Viper or... (p@nis thing i guess).

    Seriously, i learned on a 308 and it was slower and more piggish than a Miata. If i was to do it all again would have never bothered with the Ferrari 308 and went with a Miata. REAL tracking means REAL expenses and expendables and TOTAL cost might need to be factored in. Of course if you have plenty of money, crashing a few 360/430 could be fun in a sadistic sorta way i guess and used 360's are getting pretty cheap pricing out there and dealer really could use the help in moving them out.

    You are LEARNING, so a Miata makes sense imho. Then move up to faster like a Z06... and hopefully eventually a proper formula/track car (F2000, FA, DSR, etc) where you finally rid yourself of that lowish 1.x G-force limit :)
     
  12. ProCoach

    ProCoach F1 Veteran
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    #12 ProCoach, Dec 21, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Hah! Here's a set of summary statistics of my Sports 2000 at VIR. 1.7-1.8g to the left, 2.1-2.2 to the right. Yes, my neck starts to get sore pretty quick!
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
  13. lmpdesigner

    lmpdesigner Formula 3
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    Filling that traction circle up nicely.....
     
  14. ProCoach

    ProCoach F1 Veteran
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    Looks better than it is. Plotting three laps instead of one. ;) Still, it has the "sinus" in it so I must be doing something right! :D

    Coming up this way sometime, Brian? Love to buy you lunch...
     
  15. KKRace

    KKRace Formula 3

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    I spent quite a few hours tracking a GT3 and it was not for the novice. The ass end of that thing gave me a real thrill when you started to drive it the way it was supposed to be driven.

    I've driven racecars and streetcars and although the Ferrari's/GT3/ZO6s are fine machines it's still like comparing a prop plane to a fighter jet, a P51 is a bad ass airplane but it's no F16. Considering you can buy a Sports 2000 car for about the same price as a brake job on a challenge car with ceramic brakes I don't see why there is as much debate as there is. For 3 brake jobs you could pick up a used Indy Car and make me insanely jealous.

    As far as people being able to see you, if you are fcar events you could be driving a school bus with flashing lights and some people would still not see you. That's why we don't let you pass in the turns.

    That said the Lotus or the Radical would be good choices if you can't get around the Miata that most of the intructors would recommend. Although you have no idea how much fun it is blowing by some expensive exotics in a well driven Miata.
     
  16. solowmodel

    solowmodel Formula Junior

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    KKRace sums it up very clearly in this post and his other; although this not address your original question re 355, 360 & 430.

    Lotus/Radicals are great options. A bunch of people at Ascari started off tracking their Scuderias, but after trying the SR3 and Formula series cars, many people bought these to track as it was a) cheaper in the event of a major crash and b) a more visceral driving experience.
     
  17. NWaterfall

    NWaterfall Formula Junior

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    If you really want to learn how to drive get a kart... Just ask Schumi..

    I've got a bit of time in a Lotus 2eleven and absolutely love the thing! Handles great, fairly cheap, low maintainence costs, and for a ?30 position traction control for learning with.

    My suggestion is kart, 2eleven, then in two years pick up a 458 Challenge :D
     
  18. BoulderFCar

    BoulderFCar F1 Veteran
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    I owned and tracked a GT3. I don't think it's that bad but I have a lot of time in 911's. Great touch and feel with the GT3 given the right tires. The C6Z was fast but not enjoyable for me. They're still heavy street cars.

    I have a lot of track time and do know how much fun it is passing a high HP car with a momentum one.
     
  19. J. Salmon

    J. Salmon F1 Rookie
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    As another novice, I will tell you that everyone always said once you had a dedicated track car (vs. road car with some track mods) you would never want to go back. Fact is, I was never really interested in the typical "track car" (Corvette or M3 were the usual offerings). It just wasn't something I dreamed about, and isn't it all about fun?

    If I could afford to run a 360 or 430 challenge car, I sure would. Big and safe, plenty fast, dynamic, sexy. What's not to like?

    I have spent a year running a vintage Formula Ford. It's perfect for me, but it's not for everyone. You cannot just run an open wheel car at most track events. If I were going to get into an incident involving something made of tires, I would sure as hell rather be in a 430 with a a cage, and not my little rolling coffin. But there is nothing quite like an open wheel car and it has killed my interest in road cars on the track. I also have run the same used brake pads that were on the car when I bought it, the same tires will get another me another years running, and a blown motor (I mean holes in the block) was less than a major service on a 430.

    At the end of the day, I think the best track car is the car you can afford that you are most passionate about driving.
     
  20. kverges

    kverges F1 Rookie

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    I predict you will not be dissuaded, but IMO it is a mistake for a novice to start out in a fairly big power and expensive race car like a 430 Challenge. That said, if all you want to do are DEs, then get a car you enjoy, subjectively. If you want to go fast, and/or race, get a race car that enough people actually race to know what a fast time is in that car. When you can run within 1 second of pole qualifying time for given conditions, you are ready to move up.

    All that said, if you have the bucks, drive whatever you damn well please, but at least be courteous and watch your mirrors for the momentum drivers who may not have as much equipment.
     
  21. DriveAfterDark

    DriveAfterDark F1 Veteran

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    ^ What is DE? Thanks.
     
  22. Eldo In The Weeds

    Mar 20, 2008
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  23. Ronbo

    Ronbo Formula Junior

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    My first track experience was in my 456. Fun, yes, but scary, too. Not just because I thought I would launch the car into the Armco but because I really couldn't afford to write the car off (and buy new Armco!) if I did something stupid.

    Wiser and more experienced drivers suggested that I buy a low-priced, low-powered car and *really* learn to drive. I'm far from an expert but I get a lot of pleasure out of driving (and racing) my Porsche 944. I bought the car as a rolling chassis, put in a nice (but stock) motor, a superior racing suspension, a welded cage and a pair of seats, harnesses, etc. I pulled the cats and run straight pipes. The Hoosiers ride on stock wheels. I added as much lightness as I could. Yes, your Honda still has more power but my car is light, agile, responsive and GREAT to learn in.

    In a couple of years I'd like to get a track car with more power - my dream is a 355 Challenge. But as a still new-ish driver I think I benefit from my car's low power. In addition to having more time to see what's coming, I can't learn the bad habit of tiptoeing around the corners and flying down the straights. I also get passed a lot, which I believe is a skill that drivers should learn.

    my $.02. YMMV
     
  24. BoulderFCar

    BoulderFCar F1 Veteran
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    That's my concern with running the Radical with street cars. The braking and cornering dynamics are so much differant that I'm not sure you would often get into that fun flow on the track.

    I drove a Radical on the 3.1m track in Pahrump while some of the intructors were in Lambos. It was a Lambo event. I could get along with them OK because I could trust their lines but I wonder if it would be a buzz kill on a regular open track day.
     
  25. lmpdesigner

    lmpdesigner Formula 3
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    Interesting discussion..... I have tracked a bunch of times in my Ferrari and now race/track a Formula Continental and a 2 liter Sports prototype. (Norma.) Plus i also design race cars for a living. So here are my observations:

    1.) The real race cars make the Ferrari seem like an overweight, rolly polly pig.

    2.) The real race cars are really tiny on the track vis a vis the production cars.

    3.) I was punted off at turn 5 at Road Atlanta during a NASA race by a Camaro. Guy turned in on me and just couldn't see me. Did 8k worth of damage as a result.

    4.) Proper race cars and production race cars don't mix well. You can do track days with both and get away with it if you follow rules and keep passing to "only on the straights" and only when the passing car lets you by. Then I have had no problem and feel okay running my open wheeler with the production cars. But you still have to be careful and I always err on the side of caution.

    5.) The real race car's biggest running costs are tires. $1000-$1500 per set and I can go thru a set in 2-3 weekends-maybe even one weekend if I buy the gumballs.

    6.) Engine rebuilds are also (can also) add up-but this is based on "how fast do you want to go?" If you want to give up 5-10 hp in a 150-250 hp engine then you can run a long time between rebuilds-but you will not be competitive in SCCA "real races". For tracking-it is better to go for engine lfe over power. (unless you have the $$$)

    7.) The real race cars are better in accidents--much cheaper to repair in the end. A production Ferrari that goes in tail first into a tire wall will cost you $20k-$40K-easy. A real racer will be $1k to $6-7K. You will also get the real race car back on the track sooner.

    8.) The production cars have a passenger seat which is nice for instructors or for friends/girls you want to scare the panties off of. The Formula car is lacking there but the sport prototype can wedge a passenger into it.

    9.) It seems like nothing is exactly optimum for tracking and/or racing. So I have had an idea:

    I want to build a 2 seat, closed cockpit track car/race car. Basically an SCCA C sports racer but with some growth potential. I want it two seater for the passenger/instructor effect. I want it a closed prototype for driver protection and so the production cars can see it. Initial design would have a 260ish hp Acura K20 motor or Duratec with Hewland FTR box but I want to design the rear end so that it can fit a Corvette V8 motor with a new gearbox. So if you want to bump up power to 450-500 hp range you can, but have a cheap and reliable motor. This way guys can race it in SCCA C sports and also have it as a bespoke track car.

    Looks, driver safety, ease of maintenance would be the main design points. I would be compromising the design as a top level competitive car in SCCA C sports racing to a degree but figure my audience isn't going to care too much over that.

    I figure the looks need to be very cool-not a dumpy Daytona prototype but more along the lines of a Bentley GTP car. Now Riley has done something like this but it is pretty butt ugly and expensive. I am looking at 100k to 150k price range-and maybe less if I cheapen up some of the content.

    In the end I want a car that can run with NASA safely with production cars, has a home in SCCA racing and can run it at track days and at the "track country clubs" and let the owner/driver have a blast but feel and be very safe and have a car that his friends will all be jealous of at a more or less reasonable price but is very reliable.

    So-any comments/feedback?
     

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