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****YES THIS IS LONG, READ IT ALL ANYWAYS. IT WILL PROBABLY ANSWER 90% OF YOUR QUESTIONS!!!!!**** I would like to say I did not write all of this. Some of it is borrowed from "Erik the Awful" over on the Lemons forums. It is a well written write up and I have taken the liberty of changing a fair amount of things to apply a to ChumpCar. So let us begin. Thanks to Bruce, for the idea. Also I'm a Canadian, so it colours my spelling. How to be a Chump There are two ways to go ChumpCar racing: Arrive & Drive or Organize a Team. Arrive & Drive: The simplest is to Arrive & Drive with an existing team. Typically a team will ask you to fork over about $900 (give or take a couple hundred), bring your own gear, not wad up the car, and not act like a douche bag. In exchange, they promise a spot on their team, and promise to bring a car, but they don't guarantee the car will run the entire race. This arrangement is the easiest way to race, but there is a lot of risk in dealing with an unknown car and unknown personalities, and you may have trouble finding a team willing to take on an unproven driver. If you go this route, do your best to be a contributing teammate and not a primadonna. In this crowd keeping a good reputation is important. If you work out well for the team, they might make room to invite you back or recommend you to another team if they don't have room. If you act like a jerk, expect other teams to know it. Also, ask ahead of time what is expected of you. You don't want to show up late on Friday to learn they expected you to go through the tech inspection with them. Some teams also show up to race with unfinished cars, expecting their paying drivers to help finish the car. To most Arrive and Drive people this is unacceptable, make sure you know what you are getting into. It is highly recommended to Arrive & Drive with an existing team once before you try and organize your own team. Organizing a Team: Organizing a Team is expensive. Expect the complete team costs to run about $5000, or about $1000 per driver AFTER personal safety equipment (with a higher driver count). It is possible to come out a little lower, but not by much without compromising safety. Make sure your drivers know that they are NOT going to spend $500 split 4 ways. Prepare them for $1000-2000 EACH for their first ChumpCar race on a newly-built car. If you have safety gear already this may actually be as low as $700-1200/ea depending on what had to be done to the vehicle. Organizing a Team is a pain in the donkey (this cannot be emphasized enough). Expect at least half your teammates to drop out due to money or time conflicts. Expect personality conflicts. Expect spousal disapproval. Expect time crunches. Expect tow vehicle failure. Expect lack of attendance for car-work-days. If you still want to go this route, here's our advice, learned the hard way. Organization: The best way to manage expectations is to draw up a rules contract and make sure everyone signs and reads it. Once everyone is recruited, start making lists. You'll need a list of who's in charge of what part of preparation. You'll need a list of what needs fixing on the car with check boxes that you can initial off as each repair is done. You'll need a list of what parts and gear is needed and what has been bought. You'll need a spreadsheet of who's paid up. Most importantly you'll need a packing list for the race. The team captain pretty much ends up responsible for taking up the slack when it comes to funds. Get your teammates to pay up front. Getting them to pay up after the race is over doesn't work. If your team is short on drivers, don't settle for lousy teammates just because you can't find anyone else to be on your team. The corollary to this is "don't be a crappy teammate", especially if you're having trouble paying your share. Do your best to keep from putting the team captain in a bad position. If necessary you can sell your plasma for up to $300 a month. Arrive early on Friday so you can help get the pit area set up and help get the car through tech. If you can't find enough good drivers, forget building a car and Arrive & Drive. If you've built a car and your team bails, ask if there's a team that doesn't have their car finished that would be willing to pay to drive it. I would shoot for $1000 + a $1000 deposit for a decently sorted car, less for something you'll finish building at the track or something slow, more for a top-contender. Set an early due-date for fees. If your drivers are hesitant, you don't want to commit by paying for the race and then have them back out. Know before the due-date if they really are committed. If they aren't you will still have time to shop around for more teammates. Here's an excerpt from our new team rules designed around alleviating such stresses. Race Fees Each driver shall be responsible for one driver's share of the team fee, one driver's fee, paying their annual competition license (membership fee), one driver's share of the transponder rental, and, if camping, one camper's share of the camping fee (this largely depends on the track rules and set up). Each crew member shall be responsible for one membership fee. If he is camping, he is responsible for one camper's share of the camping fee as mentioned above. Drivers who have been notified they are on the team must pay a deposit of one-half their fees at least one week before the entry deadline. If they fail to pay up by that time, their position will be opened up to other drivers, to possibly include asking for drivers on the ChumpCar Forum. Their full-due date is on the entry deadline. If there are not at least four paying drivers by the entry deadline, [the team] will not compete in that race. If it's coming down to the last day to enter a race and it doesn't look like the car's going to be ready, consider your team. Would they be willing to show up with an unfinished car and complete it at the track, possibly missing track time, or would they rather pack it in and go for a later race? How much more work does your car still need? Paying for the event and then missing it really sucks. Car Selection: Pick one that's small and lightweight, made by a ubiquitous manufacturer, related to a performance model, and has a common wheel bolt pattern. Parts for cars made by rare manufacturers are expensive. Heavy cars are slower and burn through brakes, tires, and gas. Performance tires in less than 17" diameter are difficult to find and most older cars run 15" wheels, so having a common bolt pattern makes your wheel and tire selection much easier. An obvious choice for a ChumpCar would be a Ford Mustang, which had many parts that interchanged with the Fox Body platform. Ford Fairmonts and Futuras interchange well with Mustangs, but they're not lightweight. Honda Civics, are a dime a dozen and engine and drive train components can be used through different model years. Mazda GLCs/323s can accept some RX-7 parts, but be aware that early RX-7s have a rare bolt pattern and some people consider rotaries to be unreliable and difficult to work on. Also consider Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Supra, Ford Escort, Ford Focus, Mazda Miata, Chevy Camaro/Pontiac Firebird, Dodge Neon, Lexus SC300, etc. Manual vs. automatic transmission doesn't really matter. Manuals blow clutches, automatics fail if you don't keep them cool (and then sometimes just fail anyways). If you don't mind replacing a clutch in the middle of the race, go manual. Just be sure to bring spare clutches and pressure plates and make sure all your drivers know how to drive it before the race. If you go with an automatic, convert your A/C condenser into a super-sized transmission cooler. It's as easy as using a tubing cutter to cut off the A/C fittings and soldering some fuel tubing into the larger line. Use a propane torch and lead solder, not electrical solder. Car Prep: When prepping the car, start early! Prepping a car will take longer than you think, even if you just gut and cage a car. If you buy a car cheap, it's probably going to need a lot of repairs. Reliability is everything. Forget hot-rodding the car, focus on bullet-proofing everything. Visit websites and forums for the car you're racing and see what the common problems are so you can engineer fixes for those systems. Ask racers you know for advice on setting the car up. Ask if they've been to the track where you're racing and what to expect. You can get a big step up on your competition just by knowing what you'll be facing. Geographical separation can make car prep a real pain. If your teammates are neighbors it's easier to get everyone together for work days, but if your teammates are half an hour away, expect some difficulty. If you can talk your wife into watching a couple of extra kids while you and your teammates are slaving away in the garage, you might get more participation. The cooling system is the most important system on the car in an endurance race. Replace hoses and double-clamp them. Spring clamps from Japanese cars are great and cheap from your local Pull-A-Part. If your cooling system is barely big enough, put a second radiator on your roof. Spend money on brakes. You'll want calipers that work properly, good rotors that aren't under spec, and race pads that won't melt under heavy braking. Run the best cheap tire you can. If you can get Dunlop Direzza Star Specs or Falken Azenis, then do it. If your wheels require a size that isn't available in those tires, find something cheap and soft that's as wide as you can get. Everyone has to pass the Tech Inspection, and you can't pass Tech if you don't know the rules. Download the rules, read the rules, follow the rules during your build, and you will have a much better chance of passing the Tech Inspection. Count on misinterpreting something and having to go out and buy parts at 4pm Friday afternoon. To minimize your chances of failing tech, print off the Official ChumpCar Tech Inspection checklist and use it on your car. Then print off a few nice, clean copies to take to the race. They usually have some at the tech shed, but you need to have them filled out before you get to tech and it's a pain having to walk across the paddock and back for a sheet of paper you could have printed off at home. Test your battery shutoff switch a week before the race. Most first-time builders get it wrong, even when they know what they're doing. If you have to run 6 feet of 4 gauge cable across your engine bay, you'll want it done in advance instead of running to a parts store Saturday morning while everybody is already circling the track waiting for the green flag to drop. If you're actually worried about Penalty laps, bring the proper documentation per the rules. 10 Ads for your specific make and model of engine swap, transmission swap, or differential swap. Ads for any assembly that's home made, or needs to comply with a 2X rule, such as brakes or shocks. A couple weeks out from the race you need to get some track time with your car. Auto-crosses aren't quite endurance enough for a full shake-down, but they'll show you any glaring errors. This is also a good opportunity to try putting your car on and off the trailer. You don't want to be loading up at home on the morning of tech inspections and find out your car is too low. Check all the trailer tires for tread depth, bubbles in the sidewall, tread separation, and proper pressure. Pop off the wheel bearing caps to see what the condition inside is. Check all the wiring to make sure it's working and that it's not exposed to road debris. Make sure the ball socket works as it should. These are also good opportunities for driver training and seeing just how bad/good your teammates skills are. Safety: For the love of god, DON'T SKIMP ON SAFETY. The last thing you want to do is explain to a teammate's spouse that they died because you went cheap on the safety equipment. Don't underestimate the power of Mom when it comes to buying safety gear. I'm not saying mooch off your parents, but when my mother heard I was going to a ChumpCar race, she made a monetary safety equipment donation that allowed me to upgrade from a foam collar to a Hans. My recommendation is to get the 3.2A/5 suit, share a Hans with the team, and use DOM tubing for your cage. If you're racing in hot weather, a Cool Suit IS safety gear. On a 100 degree day most racers with neck donuts and no Cool Suit start making bad decisions after 15 minutes. With a Cool Suit you can run comfortably for about 45 minutes. Build your own cooler/bilge pump contraption or buy a used one from a medical supply store. Make your own Cool Shirts with cotton t-shirts and surgical tubing. Theme: Not a requirement for ChumpCar but it certainly ads a little flair to a team. Teamwork: Lead by example. If you're the team captain, be willing to go it alone if need be. You'll need that level of commitment to get it done in light of the usual obstacles, and the team needs to know that you'd push it through on your own and even drive alone if needed. Your teammates' level of commitment will be in proportion to, but never greater than, yours. That said, you'll still need to push them to hold up their end. Setting up and teaching by yourself on Friday can be a real pain, and the Officials will wonder what's up with your theme if you're the only team member there. Keeping your team involved is important. If your team loses interest you become a one-man arrive and drive shop, which is an incredible amount of work. Assume your teammates are more talented and experienced than you, and let them express that talent by giving them room to create and improvise. Any time you describe their work be generous with praise and credit, but not so generous that they get a big head and start demanding a pay check or threaten to go off and join Eyesore. If the car is street able and you can afford to insure it, drive the car around town so that their work is seen. Put their names on the car. Let them take the car out to track days, auto-crosses, or let them take it on dates after you've cleaned out the dead rats and turds. If nothing else they will have more seat time to get comfortable with the car. Hold social activities with your team. Team meetings can be held at a restaurant over enchilada dinners and Dos Equis, or at the home of whichever team member has a pool. Have an organized agenda of the various points you need to discuss, take notes, and keep focused on answering the questions. Once the agenda is covered, loosen up and brainstorm fun ideas, theme-related jokes, and costume ideas. Get all of your teammates' and prospective teammates' email addresses. At least once a week send out an informative email on your race preparations, even if nothing's been done since last week. Try to communicate every week! Don't put up with flaky teammates, and don't think that they'll get better on their own. They won't. Make sure your teammates have a sense of humor and know that ChumpCar is the place to let it show. Don't be an donkey-hole to other teams, who knows they may have some parts that could put you back on the track. Make some team memorabilia, such as team membership cards, t-shirts, framed team photos, photo CDs, DVDs of the race video, calendars with half-naked women (or men) posing with your car. When it comes to working on the car don't let team members confuse input with ownership. Only the car owner should pay for any part that goes on the car, and only the garage owner should pay for any tool you need. It is a very wise idea to have a set amount up front that everyone will pitch in on the car with the car owner actually doing the ordering and paying. If you go over the amount, the car owner takes up the slack, which is why he has the final say-so on what work gets done on the car. Learn to delegate. You can't be the whole team by yourself unless your name is Spank. Lean on your teammates. Break everything down into tasks they can help with. One of the rules of leadership is that you only put one person in charge of a task. If you put two people in charge each will think the other has it covered. For instance, put one person in charge of getting the theme work done. They have every right to ask others to help, but they are responsible for making sure it gets done. Who are you going to put in charge of your theme? The most artistic person who is the least mechanically inclined. Put one person in charge of researching what wheel/tire combo will fit on your car and finding the least expensive, lightest, most sticky solution. If you have a cage builder, put that one person in charge of getting the cage built. If you don't have a cage builder, put your most reliable person in charge of getting the cage done - the cage is going to be the biggest part of the build. Going to the race: Remember that packing list I mentioned earlier? Put it in action! Pack an extra copy of the packing list to use on the way home. Get plastic tubs that you can zip-tie the lids shut. Pack spare coolant hoses, fuel hoses, any spare brake parts you can find, belts, a spare set of tires, and most importantly, any tech data you can get your hands on. Even if you have a thorough knowledge of your car, it's wise to have a good manual on hand. You never know what you'll forget in the heat of the moment. Pack all the spare parts you might need for your car. If you have spare room in your tow rig and you have any really common parts laying around (spare Holley 4 barrel, generic fuel pump, gasket material) strongly consider bringing them as barter material. You'd be surprised how many teams run around looking for spare battery cables when their cut-off switches fail tech. Plan out meals and lodging in advance. Stopping by the local Wal-Mart on Friday morning with a fuzzy idea of buying a tent and some food doesn't count as planning. Simple planning is 1 package of Pop-Tarts, 2 sub sandwiches, 4 waters, and 2 Gatorades per person per day. Pack a small grill, plenty of grilling food, and an ice chest full of beer for dinner. Know where everyone is staying before you leave for the race, and make sure everyone has everyone else's phone number. Water is under rated. Bring as much as you can. If it is a hot weekend you will be surprised at how much you will drink, and how quickly you can become dehydrated. Finding that out halfway through a 2 hour driving shift is not good. If at all possible, caravan. Nothing sucks worse on a 6 hour tow than breaking down 5 hours away from the track while your teammates are pulling into the paddock. If you have a second vehicle available that is capable of towing the trailer, seriously consider bringing it in case the primary vehicle fails. At the race: What to expect (and do) for Tech Inspection, Registration and Gear Check at your first ChumpCar event: For racers and race teams new to the ChumpCar World Series, the process of getting through technical inspection, registration, gear inspection and driverâ€™s school may seem a bit foreign. ChumpCarâ€™s process is atypical (some say back-asswards), as compared to the SCCA, NASA or some other race orgs. Why? Because weâ€™re trying to save you time and money, and weâ€™re trying to save you from having to undergo repeated hassles from well-intentioned race officialsâ€¦ who (although doing their best, they still get stressed out once and a while) really do want to make your experience at the track, and theirs, more enjoyable. First and foremost, read ChumpCarâ€™s rules. Then, read them again and, this time, apply a highlighter felt pen to every section that you either have questions about or that you feel might be a concern (based on the car you have chosen to run or the modifications that you want to make when building the car). Most questions can be answered by going to the ChumpCar World Series â€œForumâ€ and posting your questions to the membership. Theyâ€™ve â€œbeen there and done thatâ€ and provide some reasonable answers. Also, send an e-mail to your Regional Director and ask him/her for the official response. Next, read and re-read the Supplemental Rules for every event that you enter. Print out copies of the race schedule and understand the specific rules as they apply to the various race tracks. Some tracks allow outside fuel to be brought in; some donâ€™t. Some events will have safety breaks; some wonâ€™t. Every event is different and itâ€™s YOUR responsibility to know what, where and when. Also, develop a check-list â€“ documents and log-book, equipment, tools, spare parts, driver gear, personal needs, etc. On that check-list, you should have two line items that say, â€œ(1) Print out all tech forms and bring all documents; (2) Research local junkyards and auto parts stores.â€ Have all of your documents, log-book, vehicle notebook, tech and registration forms printed and filled-out before you reach the track. And, call ahead and see what yards and stores carry parts for your 1983 Yugo, so youâ€™ll know who to call and where to go when you need parts. Okay, so youâ€™re packed up and at the front gate of the track. Itâ€™s 12:00 noon on Friday and they just opened the gate for teams to access the paddock. Hereâ€™s what youâ€™ll do to get started: Â· Sign the gate waiver. Everybody has to sign. Â· Drive into the paddock at 15mph (donâ€™t get thrown out of the track before you even get inside) and find a paddock spot. Allow room for you to unload the car but donâ€™t hog-up space. There will be lots of other teams joining you. Â· Unload the car and immediately get the car in-line for Technical Inspection. Yes, ChumpCar does tech inspection FIRST, not registration. Why? Because if the car doesnâ€™t pass tech, then the rest of the process is worthless. Thatâ€™s a waste of your time and ours. Also, if the car doesnâ€™t pass tech, youâ€™ll need all the time you can get to take the car back to the paddock and repair the issues. Donâ€™t waste that precious hour doing registration and gear inspection â€“ get the car right. Â· At tech, have your tech forms and any necessary value documents ready and in-order. Have one (1) person be the teamâ€™s spokesperson â€“ not 5 people giving 5 different answers to the tech inspectorâ€™s questions. Once youâ€™ve passed tech inspection, youâ€™ll be handed your tech sheet with your penalty lap assessment (if applicable). The tech inspector may also make some notes in your vehicle log book. While the team is pushing the car back to the paddock, the Team Captain or team representative should take the tech sheet to registration. Â· At registration, the Team Captain/team representative will provide the registrar the tech sheet. The registrar will pull your teamâ€™s entry file. If you have any driver changes to make, add a crew member, or owe a balance on the entry fee, all of that will be addressed right there. However, if your team roster has dramatically changed or if your team roster was never filled-out (on-line, as it should have been), you will be instructed to take a printed entry form, get out of the registration line, go fill-out the form, and then get back in line (at the back!). Â· If you need to buy a log book or tech stickers, buy a competition license, etc., all of that can be handled at registration. A log-book is required for every car. Typically, a log book will last 1-2 years. A competition license is required of every driver and must be renewed annually. Yes, there will be certain things that youâ€™ll need to buy at registration if this is your first event, so be prepared for it. Weâ€™re not sucking every last dime out of you... most of these are once-a-year purchases. Â· If your team is renting a transponder from ChumpCar for the event, that will also be handled at registration. Hopefully, you reserved one and pre-paid for it with your on-line entry form. If not, pay for one at registration. Â· Once youâ€™ve completed registration, youâ€™ll be handed a Team Packet. Inside youâ€™ll find all of your driver and crew wristbands, any vehicle pass stickers (some events limit the number of support vehicles allowed in the paddock), and any last minute schedule or event rules changes. Read everything carefully and hand out all of your teamâ€™s wristbandsâ€¦ or no one will be allowed in Saturday morning! Â· Okay, so youâ€™ve gotten the car through tech and youâ€™ve registered. You team has their wristbands. Now grab your driverâ€™s gear and head to Gear Inspection (either individually or as a team). ChumpCar officials will inspect each driverâ€™s suit, helmet, neck support device and support gear. Once approved, ChumpCar will place a decal on your helmet, allowing you access onto the track. If we donâ€™t see the right decal on your helmet for that year, you will be stopped at Pit-Out and not allowed on-track. Â· Finally, if youâ€™re totally new to road racing or itâ€™s been a while since you raced (and youâ€™ve been asked to take a refresher course), ask the kind and friendly folks at registration where the Driverâ€™s School will be held. The time of the 1-hour class will be noted in the Supplemental Rules but you can always ask to double-check. Get to the classroom area at least 5 minutes early. Late arrivals are usually assessed a penalty of a case of Guinness. Miss the class and you may be restricted from racing. Thatâ€™s it. Thatâ€™s the entire front-end process. Tech, registration gear check and driverâ€™s schoolâ€¦ in that order. Now itâ€™s time to get your head screwed-on straight and ready for some great racing. During the event: Treat the Officials with respect. They're putting their time and effort into making the event fun for everyone, and getting upset at them will never help your case. If you're involved in an on-track incident (or even an off-track incident), start by admitting your guilt. If you're not guilty, stop, reassess and figure out what you MIGHT be guilty of. Just because you don't agree with a call doesn't mean it isn't the right call. Repairs go faster when everybody is working what angle they can towards getting the car back on the track. If your pads need replacing but everyone is trying to cram into the engine bay to work on a water leak, grab the guy who's least needed under the hood who's also competent enough to slap pads and put him to work there. Need a tool? Grab the guy who's watching everything with a lost expression and send him on the mission. This goes doubly for pit-stops. Practice your pit stops before hand so that everyone knows how to do it. Running around like a bunch of headless chickens trying to get the car back on the track will raise tempers. Having a dedicated non-driving crew chief makes pit stops and repairs quicker. Give that person a numbered checklist of things to check before the car leaves the pits, like tire pressures, Cool Suit on, etc. Have them memorize it. Have them memorize the procedures for refueling, then have them stand back and supervise your drivers during the refueling process. Somebody screwing around with the car while they drivers are refueling? The crew chief should be chewing some tail. When repairs are going on, the crew chief should keep his hands clean and direct others in performing the tasks they're good at that will get the car back on the track the fastest. If it's your first race and you're in it to win it, good for you, but you better make sure your car is well sorted and you know how to drive well. If you have a couple of races under your belt, have a well sorted car, a set of good drivers, and have your pitstops well-orchestrated, then try and win it. Otherwise just turn laps and have a good time! Make sure your drivers understand it's an endurance race and not a sprint. Nothing sucks more than having a 50th place driver blow the motor trying to win it all in his stint. And I'd call that a lunch hour well spent. If someone wants to post up a checklist to use, or even as a general guideline that would be very helpful. For your regional info: With the creation of the new regional management teams, we're now able to provide more and better resources to answer your rules, vehicle, event and other ChumpCar-related questions, with faster response times. So, depending on what region you live in, save the appropriate e-mail address for ALL of your ChumpCar questions: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Updated: Checklist is now attached. This is merely a guideline and you will probably have things you want to add or remove from it. Available through the link below. ChumpcarChecklist.pdf