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Where is Chumpcar heading? And why?


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I see that a particular topic is threatening to dilute the CTS thread, so I'll branch it off.

 

One of my favourite jokes from a while back was to pretend I was an interviewer and ask someone, " As an outsider, what do you think of the human race?" :P Except for maybe a couple more of the name tracks to the east that I'm still hoping to get to, I'm pretty well done with Chump events. Some people have noted that my participation on the forum has diminished and that I tend to focus on a few subjects. To me, they are the ones that I feel  will have long term influence on the face of Chumpcar.

 

What I see:

1. A large percentage of the field is made up of a certain brand of car, to be specific: BMW.

 

When I got into Chump, it was touted as cheap racing, $500 cars, entry level, etc. A newb looking to get into racing for the first time and attending a Chumpcar race back then would see a lot of cars that were most likely only a couple steps away from the junkyard: ugly, unwanted, bruised but still reasonably functional. Cars that got parked because the owner didn't want to pay for the $300 in repairs that it needed and bought something else instead. It had a claimer car feel: $500 for your finished racecar on jackstands in your driveway was the stated target/value.

 

Today, up to 40% of the field is driving around the track in BMWs, a car that most people couldn't afford to drive on the street. It started with a few BMWs, then grew very rapidly to what is happening today. Whatever the reason for it, is that where Chump wants to be? Will that percentage continue to grow in the future? In five years, will only former luxury sports sedans have a shot at the overall win? Is this the status quo that Chump wants?

 

2. A partial adoption of a weight-based points structure.

 

Partial, because the numbers used are not actual weights but weights based on the published numbers by the Chumpcar approved source. Partial, because instead of actually weighing cars at the track or even asking teams what their cars weigh, a fudge factor was introduced as part of the swap formula that was introduced with the intent of limiting what low point and therefore swap eligible cars could do to beat the high point cars who couldn't or wouldn't swap. Partial, because the fudge factor did nothing to change or address the issue that luxury cars can with little extra effort shuck 20% of their advertised curb weight while the cheap cars that initially appeared to be Chump's target market struggled to lose 10% and in some cases 0%. Reinforcement of the BMW trend, and also towards other luxury oriented brands like Cadillac and Mercedes. The rules and the math favours those cars now.

 

"Pick a car you know and race it" is no longer good advice if someone wants to have a shot at winning; "Pick a luxury sports sedan, strip it and race it" is.

 

More later.

Edited by mender
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10 minutes ago, mender said:

What I see:

1. A large percentage of the field is made up of a certain brand of car, to be specific: BMW.

 

They make the best car. It does not require much skill to make a 3 series a podium contender. I suggest to most new teams to race a 3 series. They are cheap, plentiful, durable, and fast. 

 

I really see no problem with 40% of the field being BMW. 

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17 minutes ago, mender said:

1. A large percentage of the field is made up of a certain brand of car, to be specific: BMW.

 

whatchutalkinboutwillis?  Sure doesn't look like a spec-BMW race to me.

 

 

 

I get the luxury/sports car point, but this is racing and those cars will have the power and the handling drivers want, so that should be expected.

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4 minutes ago, Bremsen said:

 

I get the luxury/sports car point, but this is racing and those cars will have the power and the handling drivers want, so that should be expected.

 And loads of weight to shed...

 

With the aero wars upon us I figure the Monte will start looking like this in a couple years.

 

645816835

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Over the long haul a 3 series is probably one of the most cost effective platforms to race.  They don't break if you take care of them, the aftermarket is huge and consumables are cheap. What's not to love? With how fast the Lexii, Honda's,  Nissans and other cars have gotten you can no longer show up with a stock basic e30 race car and expect to wind up on the podium.

 

As far as the direction of chump is concerned... It's where I started. It's amazing something like this exists to get completely green people racing on real tracks for minimal $. That said I personally am gravitating towards the newer endurance offerings a bit more because the skill level on average is substantially higher and their rules present new challenges. As much as I love the single class aspect of chump the others seem to have avoided the constant unicorn hunt we've seen here. I think this is just the reality of a single class trying to cover hundreds of cars. 

 

Chump absolutely kills it with ChumpCast and I hope that is luring more people to the sport, because in the end I think that is what Chump is all about.

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3 minutes ago, gr1vlet said:

As far as the direction of chump is concerned... It's where I started. It's amazing something like this exists to get completely green people racing on real tracks for minimal $. That said I personally am gravitating towards the newer endurance offerings a bit more because the skill level on average is substantially higher and their rules present new challenges. As much as I love the single class aspect of chump the others seem to have avoided the constant unicorn hunt we've seen here. I think this is just the reality of a single class trying to cover hundreds of cars. 

 

It is amazing, and I feel lucky to be alive when something like chump exists. Chump is just such good fun for the money. 

 

WRL is the only other series that is any good. I have raced with them quite a bit, and was the 2016 national point champion. The competition is good, the racing is good, and its fun. I don't like class racing as much, and I can't afford to build a GP1 car that is what I consider a good car for the rules. 

 

I have been having a REALLY fun time in chump recently, but WRL is a solid product no doubt. 

 

 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, gr1vlet said:

With how fast the Lexii, Honda's,  Nissans and other cars have gotten you can no longer show up with a stock basic e30 race car and expect to wind up on the podium.

 

A basic stock/budget 3 series can end up on the podium with good driving and strategy. 

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11 minutes ago, red0 said:

 

A basic stock/budget 3 series can end up on the podium with good driving and strategy. 

By basic i was thinking stock caged e30 without weight reduction and suspension tweaks. You have to put in some serious time removing weight or you'll have a turd. E36 might be a different story, they seem to be closer to ideal without much effort (which is a good thing IMO).

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I think your question is legitimate.  ChumpCar has existed for quite a while and has changed much since it's inception.  While some of that change can be directly traced to me since I have taken over, I have been around since the beginning and have seen it all.

 

Let's be honest - ChumpCar was founded by a guy who was liking what he saw in the 24 Hours of Lemons and started his own version of it.  $500 junkers and track time were the core of the endurance world back then.  The problem was that the world had a "Lemons" experience already and they didn't need or want another one.  Lemons does what they do well.  People who didn't fit it with the Lemons business model were looking for something a little more racey and polished (cars that is).  ChumpCar quickly became that place. 

 

Along the way our tracks filled up with BMW's and Miata's.  To this day, these are the two most common cars on any track in any club.  Why?  They are good and they are cheap.  Building a winning race car is difficult for a pro, almost impossible for an amateur.  One way to make it easier is to start with a factory car that is good at racing.  There is no shame in picking up a clean used E36, paying a guy to put a good cage in it and then go racing.  It is better that a new team joins our sport that way than give up trying to build or track a random car their neighbor gave them.  It's really no different than Samsung and Apple dominating the cell phone market.  There are plenty of other choices in smart phones out there but almost everyone out there buys a Samsung or Apple.  Why?  They work well and the aftermarket supports them.

 

While BMW's and Miata's make up much of our fields, there is still plenty of variety on track and on the podium.  Take a look at a few of our recent podiums:

Sebring:

1 - Lexus SC300

2 - Porsche 944

3 - Mitsubishi 3000GT

4 - Toyota Supra

 

Buttonwillow:

1 - Miata

2 - E36

3 - Miata

 

Gingerman:

1 - E36 (318i)

2 - Neon

3 - Civic

 

I for one like the variety and the close finishes.  One lap separated 3rd from 1st at Gingerman.  One might argue that all or most of the cars listed are expensive to acquire and this is evidence that we have lost our roots.  But what should they be driving?  Is there a list of cars that are acceptable for budget racing? In the end wouldn't every team want to build the car that gave them the best chance of winning a race or that they can buy the cheapest or enjoy the most?  Ultimately people will choose from what is available in their part of the country.  This selection varies.  While Datsun's are popular out West, you almost never see them East of the Mississippi.  Bad car choice?  No, they just rusted away years ago with the salt and humidity out here.  But I digress...

 

The cars have gotten nicer, cleaner and faster since 2009.  Some of this is due to the fact that we don't require cars to cost $500 anymore.  So whereas in the past you had to find and race a $500 E36, now you can buy a $3600 E36 and race that.  Some would say this is a problem, that we have abandoned the little guy and made racing too expensive.  I do not.  First of all, racing is expensive no matter how you slice it.  Race for a season or two and the cost of travel and consumables will soon out weigh the cost of the initial car purchase.  Many would argue that starting with a cleaner platform will save you money in the long run anyway with less worn out parts to replace.  Second, I have heard the argument that a nice looking car is too expensive and ruining our sport.  Paint and vinyl has nothing to do with how fast a car goes.  Appearance is optional.  If a team doesn't mind their car looking like it lost a fight with a tree, so be it.  But others enjoy the chance to recreate an old livery they they saw on TV as a kid, or just enjoying the look of their shiny race car.

 

You asked where are we going and I feel like I'm preaching.  I will tell you what concepts are in my head and that I check every idea against daily.

 

1.  ChumpCar is committed to keeping road course endurance racing accessible to the average Joe. 

2.  We are committed to keeping every driver safe on track and on pit road.

3.  We are committed to keeping the costs of racing as low as reasonably possible.

4.  We are committed to giving all our members a voice and actively seeking your input.

5.  We are committed to the growth and success of this member owned club so that there will always be a place for average Joe's to come race.

6.  We are committed to the fair treatment of all members with no regard given to how much money one has or who they know.

7.  We are committed to providing a professional experience for every member at the event.

8.  We are committed to giving our members as much track time as possible.

 

What does all this lead to?  We are adding more cars to our list of acceptable vehicles.  Newer models that in some cases are all the way up to current generation models.  We are constantly analyzing vehicle values to ensure as much parity as possible on track that leads to more close finishes like we've had.  We are looking at ways to improve driver safety and communication on track through technology and policies.  We are adding and stabilizing good dates at great tracks that work with your schedule and budget giving you the best places to race in North America.  We are adding staff to the organization that believe in these policies and uphold them consistently coast to coast.  We are using new and existing methods or communication to reach new racers that just don't know they are racers yet and grow our family of members.  We are and will continue to make changes that provide a better experience for our members up to and including our new name which will be announced in November of this year.

 

In the end, I'm not oblivious of the fact that we will not be the club that everyone wants to be a part of.  Some people have different goals and are looking to get something else out of their racing.  We can't be everything to everyone.  But we have a set of rules that I and many others believe in and we will hone our rough edges and practice what we do until we are perfect at it.  Along the way we will give thousands of average Joe's a chance to do what they never thought possible - race on world class tracks wheel to wheel with other average Joe's.

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I'd like to note a few things to @mender, Im officially calling BS on the weight reduction for "cheap cars that initially appeared to be Chump's target market".  Ive personally seen a dodge neon go across the scales at well under 1800#s. I know that my car is about right for weight unless someone were to go crazy with weight removal.  And I really do believe that the swap formula is right on point for what it would take to make my car a top contender (looking at possible options for next year to use up the remaining ~150 or so we have). 

 

The weights in the swap formula are likely pretty good, but there are probably some outliers in there like a Fiero.  Have you been in contact with Mike or Phil regarding this?  Given them any hard data to use to set the swap weight?  Have you submitted a petition in regards to such?  I am fairly certain that the weight values are not set in stone and asking nicely with a bit of hard information to go on would go a long way.

 

Ive said it before on here and will say it again, weight loss is FREE speed.  Makes it cheaper to race too since consumables are less.  Its not free speed to you because you have a shop and charge out your time, its free to me though as I have a salary and this is my hobby.  Don't create a disincentive for people to run lighter cars.  If two teams running the same model car want to do an engine swap, why should the guy who doesn't work to remove all his sound deadening, door bars in place, etc get to swap in a car with a higher HP?  More work = faster race car.

 

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Here here Mike, good note.

 

17 minutes ago, chisek said:

One might argue that all or most of the cars listed are expensive to acquire and this is evidence that we have lost our roots. 

 

Im calling BS on this one too.  There are plenty of cars out there that can fully compete AND be bought for nearly $500.  We bought our 1993 Mazda 626 for $600.  Little to no rust.  Strong engine, strong trans.  Even some of the newer cars on the list, if you search craigslist enough you will find plenty of options.

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You guys are doing a fantastic job as always. Like I said if not for Chump it's likely I would still be cone racing and dreaming about doing a track day "some day".

 

Ultimately different series have different products and that is great for everyone IMO. I've noticed more than just a few teams having multiple cars for different series and most chump cars can be raced anywhere. I think it's a great time to be alive, and at the end of the day ChumpCar is where real, competitive, inexpensive endurance racing started and you continue to innovate and evolve. 

Edited by gr1vlet
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I don't get the hype with E36s, they are great for beginners and people who don't want to spend time in the garage and get you a car that you can podium with.

But you can podium with "any" car as long as it's well built, good drivers and some luck.

 

And you can't utilize all that yummy aftermarket support anyways due to the points. I am sure you can build a super fast E36 track car if you don't have any rules holding you back.

 

I think the point system works!

 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, turbogrill said:

I don't get the hype with E36s, they are great for beginners and people who don't want to spend time in the garage and get you a car that you can podium with.

But you can podium with "any" car as long as it's well built, good drivers and some luck.

 

And you can't utilize all that yummy aftermarket support anyways due to the points. I am sure you can build a super fast E36 track car if you don't have any rules holding you back.

 

I think the point system works!

 

You can build a super fast E36 within the current rules, they are fantastic cars. 

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Thanks for your considered reply, Mike.

 

 I appreciate your willingness to openly address questions like this and I also appreciate that you feel my question is legitimate enough to do so.

 

Yes, the Chumpcar business model has changed considerably in a fairly short time, and the emerging market certainly drives the direction for the future. A reasonable plan might be to make Chump accessible to more people by absorbing some of the old SCCA cars that are gathering dust. I'm betting you've already had a look at their rules with the intent of easing those now outdated cars and classes into the fold. A ready-made source of cheap race cars just waiting for a new life in another series. Just a little digression of my own.

 

And yes, BMW 3 series and Miatas are everywhere and the support for them is excellent. No question that a typical amateur team would be wise to follow those known paths. A team that can race economically both time and money-wise can devote more of their effort to weekends at the track rather than at home in the shop, a win-win for the teams and Chump. BMWs  are the easy button and if the future of Chump is essentially the home for old spec series cars, so be it.

 

Yes, your results show that cars other than BMWs are on the podium, but I only see two of the ten on your list that are not either of the BMW/Miata group or of the luxury sports sedans. Any of those swapped? Is the swap formula the only place where weight is considered? I know you have stated that scales will not be in use at Chump races so I have to think that the whole weight scenario was only to make swaps a non-issue. If so, any further talk of rules based on weight are moot.

 

I'm looking forward to the new name.

Edited by mender
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I went to a BMW because I was tired of working on my Subaru at the events and not finishing.  I also had to learn the platform and do a lot of work to it to race it.  I have learned a lot and have been able to work on my driving and racecraft and not worry about working on the car at the track.  Now I feel like I can go back and finish my Subaru to make it competitive and reliable now that I have had a lot of fun racing and collecting trophies at well known tracks. 

 

By the way I have seen the real changes Mike and his team have put in place since the JC days.  Cars are getting faster yes because cars are more reliable and drivers are able to work on driving more than working on cars.  Not to mention we are attracting pro series drivers to come hang out for the weekend for such a small fee compared to what they are used to. 

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The second day at gingerman had a Honda, a swapped rx7, an E30, an E36 (or 2) and a Saab all battling for the lead.

 

I don't understand the big push for weight included in the rules.

 

If you wanted to, I bet you could use points to get to a lower weight.  Put on a fiberglass frunklid, doors, roof, and engine cover.  Use plexiglass for the windshield.  Make your exhaust out of titanium (who says you can't?).  If that doesn't save you 100 to 200#, I think the Fiero is just maybe an outlier in terms of how much weight you can reduce.

 

My opinion is that weight is one of the factors that is open for chumps to be as aggressive or lazy as they want.  It is a decision to be made for using points as well.  You want your car lighter, go for it.  Use some points on materials, put your energy into making it as light as possible!  If not, spend your points on a swap!  Or spend your points on Aero!  Its your choice.

 

 

This is just my 2 cents from a car owner who has no problem getting 10% of the weight out of the car.  My opinion may be invalid.

Edited by wvumtnbkr
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4 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

I don't understand the big push for weight included in the rules.

 

If you wanted to, I bet you could use points to get to a lower weight.  Put on a fiberglass frunklid, doors, roof, and engine cover.  Use plexiglass for the windshield.  Make your exhaust out of titanium (who says you can't?).  If that doesn't save you 100 to 200#, I think the Fiero is just maybe an outlier in terms of how much weight you can reduce.

 

My opinion is that weight is one of the factors that is open for chumps to be as aggressive or lazy as they want.  It is a decision to be made for using points as well.  You want your car lighter, go for it.  Use some points on materials, put your energy into making it as light as possible!  If not, spend your points on a swap!  Or spend your points on Aero!  Its your choice.

 

 

This is just my 2 cents from a car owner who has no problem getting 10% of the weight out of the car.  My opinion my be invalid.

 

I agree 100% with you Rob.  This is what makes Chump different from another series.  People get to be crafty in the garage.  Why should a person/team who is willing to spend the extra time in the garage finding the weight to take out not be rewarded for a faster performing car on track?  If you want to give up some weight for tenths then go for it....

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14 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

The second day at gingerman had a Honda, a swapped rx7, an E30, an E36 (or 2) and a Saab all battling for the lead.

 

I don't understand the big push for weight included in the rules.

 

If you wanted to, I bet you could use points to get to a lower weight.  Put on a fiberglass frunklid, doors, roof, and engine cover.  Use plexiglass for the windshield.  Make your exhaust out of titanium (who says you can't?).  If that doesn't save you 100 to 200#, I think the Fiero is just maybe an outlier in terms of how much weight you can reduce.

 

My opinion is that weight is one of the factors that is open for chumps to be as aggressive or lazy as they want.  It is a decision to be made for using points as well.  You want your car lighter, go for it.  Use some points on materials, put your energy into making it as light as possible!  If not, spend your points on a swap!  Or spend your points on Aero!  Its your choice.

 

 

This is just my 2 cents from a car owner who has no problem getting 10% of the weight out of the car.  My opinion my be invalid.

 

Your opinion is valid. I think you are spot on. 

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13 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

The second day at gingerman had a Honda, a swapped rx7, an E30, an E36 (or 2) and a Saab all battling for the lead.

 

I don't understand the big push for weight included in the rules.

 

If you wanted to, I bet you could use points to get to a lower weight.  Put on a fiberglass frunklid, doors, roof, and engine cover.  Use plexiglass for the windshield.  Make your exhaust out of titanium (who says you can't?).  If that doesn't save you 100 to 200#, I think the Fiero is just maybe an outlier in terms of how much weight you can reduce.

 

My opinion is that weight is one of the factors that is open for chumps to be as aggressive or lazy as they want.  It is a decision to be made for using points as well.  You want your car lighter, go for it.  Use some points on materials, put your energy into making it as light as possible!  If not, spend your points on a swap!  Or spend your points on Aero!  Its your choice.

 

 

This is just my 2 cents from a car owner who has no problem getting 10% of the weight out of the car.  My opinion my be invalid.

So 50% of the cars in the battle for the lead were BMWs; good to know. ;)

 

As I said, if weight is not going to be checked or used for tech, then there's no reason to have it in the rules.

 

Um, a Fiero body is already all fiberglass or plastic. A Fiero has a space frame and is fully functional with no body panels at all, which is why it is so popular with the kit car guys. Engine swaps are second nature. The exhaust system is 3 feet long. A Lexan windshield will save me about 15 lbs.

 

And your opinion, like everyone else's in Chump , is valid.

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19 minutes ago, mender said:

So 50% of the cars in the battle for the lead were BMWs; good to know. ;)

 

As I said, if weight is not going to be checked or used for tech, then there's no reason to have it in the rules.

 

Um, a Fiero body is already all fiberglass or plastic. A Fiero has a space frame and is fully functional with no body panels at all, which is why it is so popular with the kit car guys. Engine swaps are second nature. The exhaust system is 3 feet long. A Lexan windshield will save me about 15 lbs.

 

And your opinion, like everyone else's in Chump , is valid.

I just learned something!  I had NO idea that Fiero's were plastic! 

 

I think I know why they are so hard to remove weight from! 

 

I think I just gained more respect for those little Ferraris.

 

 

Do you have a solution that doesn't involve weight for the swap rule?

 

Edit: I obviously didn't understand your earlier reply and thought you were pushing for more rules regarding weight.  I apologize for the misunderstanding.

Edited by wvumtnbkr
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