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Gauging interest - Low frills F class arrive and drive


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First off, I think I should introduce myself. My name is Tyler Smith and I’m the involuntary team captain of Collectively Worse Motorsports. We run the #392 Neon. All 4 of our team members live in central Illinois. I’m a husband, father of one, 20 year 911 dispatcher, Airbnb host, lifelong automotive enthusiast, and recent endurance racing addict.  While I’m new around here I’m not new to building and racing cars.

 

We built our car together as a team and shared expenses. Two members of the team ,myself and @ColeTrickle85, have been bitten hard by the ChampCar bug. I have chosen to build a second Neon for personal use because I don’t think it’s fair to my teammates (some of my closest friends) to tear up OUR car doing multiple races a year if they only plan to race once a year. I am fortunate enough to be in a position to get near unlimited overtime (I’ll finish this year with 1176 hours of ot) so I’m investing some of that in fueling my newfound addiction. 
 

I’ve put out feelers about doing arrive and drives with other teams and there are some VERY impressive operations. One look around a ChampCar paddock is enough to notice that.  The downside of that is these “fancier” outfits are going to be too expensive to racers of more modest incomes. I’d lump myself in the not so distant past into that group. I’ve seen several posts bemoaning changing rules that drive up the cost of fielding a new team which could, at least in theory, push out newbies and make arrive and drives the bulk of the teams.  I’m not here to debate if that’s the case. I’m too new to have an opinion on the matter. What I do see is an opportunity with the new 300 point F class to offer less expensive arrive and drives that could on-ramp new people into ChampCar.

 

Heres what I’m planning.  Tell me if I’m crazy, dumb, misguided, or on to something. 

 

I have purchased a second 1st generation Neon and I’m going to keep the build very simple. Strip as much weight as possible out, 2.4 swap (the 2.0 is dead), Koni dampers, poly bushings, good pads, and RS4’s (to keep costs down).  That’s 95% of it.  This car won’t light the world on fire but it’ll be fast enough in traffic and fwd is forgiving for new racers. Since it’s very similar to my team’s car, my spares package is mostly already in place. I’m aiming to be able to put a driver in a car for 2 stints (1 per day) at as close to $1k as possible.  I see two main target demographics. First would be the street car enthusiast who has done hpde and/or autocross. Second would be current members who just want seat time and don’t care what class they are in. Anyone could build and race a 300 point car under the old A-D classes but this new class gives those drivers something to race for.

 

I’m open to all opinions. You won’t hurt my feelings. 
 

Thanks for your time,

Tyler
 

Edited by Lackluster
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Have at it, as a team that started with this series, we have a surplus of folks interested, it’s now turned into an extended family of three cars, there’s a fourth and fifth on the potential horizon, and one is slated to be F class… a totally stock infiniti.

 

The other is going to be a swap and C class, leveraging all rules, especially our acquired repurposing skills.

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Good morning Tyler,   if you could get the costs down to $500 a stint I could definitely see you getting interest.

I do not see this as a bad idea at all, but here are some of the items I would put some thought into.

 

-When calculating $500 a stint, take into account ALL factors (Race registration, Race gas, Race tires, Race brakes, Towing gas, Towing Tires, Trailer maintenance, then some costs for items needed but not per race (a use fee for trans, engine, axles, etc)). Things add up quickly and with how prices for everything are fluctuating right now, you might even want to add in a 3-4% safety net in case you book a race 3-4 months from now and then gas prices go up drastically.

 

-This type of seat will get you a variety of renters. You may get one or two regulars who just want to turn some laps, but I would guess the majority will be people new to champ and/or W2W racing. You will be constantly looking for new renters.  If you get someone who is really into it they will most likely get more involved and either build their own car or seek for a more competitive option.  Constantly vetting new renters and worrying if they are aggressive, hard on equipment, not fun to have in the pits,  etc would be stressful for me.

 

-Assume people are going to break the car and figure out how you want to deal with that.

 

In my opinion, running a team solo with only yourself and renters is a lot of work and cost wise is not too far off from just renting from another team.  To me the cost savings for running your own car is not worth the added time/stress.  Plus, once you rent for a few people and get to know more teams more doors will open and you will be able to drive different cars (which for me, learning a new car is a ton of fun).

 

Signed - Another Tyler

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You need to break down your operating costs per race and work backwards from there. Assuming you never want to get paid for what it costs to build the car....some of your big hurdles 

 

Brakes 400/2 races

Tires    800/1.5 races 

Fuel     7 Gal per hour, 15 hours $4.5 per gal = $475

Oils     $100

Hubs and Bearings  300/3 Races

Engine $1500/8 races (wishful)

Trans   $1000/8 races (wishful) 

Random Stuff you use up at the track $250

 

That's basically 2 grand to keep a car going that has been gifted to you ready to run, not including costs to get there. 

 

You will blow the next 2 grand quickly with entry fee and cost to even get the rig to the track. 

 

I think pricing in any paydown for building the car, keeping safety gear current and fixing any wear on the rest of everything you own....you quickly get in the 1000-1500 market for a pair of stints (4 way split for a 2 day event). 

 

I think the F class, done well can run for roughly $500 less than a reasonably well done normal class car per driver per weekend...which is still a pretty good savings. 

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41 minutes ago, Black Magic said:

I think pricing in any paydown for building the car, keeping safety gear current and fixing any wear on the rest of everything you own....you quickly get in the 1000-1500 market for a pair of stints (4 way split for a 2 day event). 

Good point on the safety gear. I had not even considered that.

Belts, seat, fire bottle all have expiration dates on them and will have to be paid for again at some point.

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I love the idea and think that's exactly what F class was introduced for. $1000 for the weekend is far enough from the $1500-2000 options that I think you'd be able to attract drivers. As long as 3 drivers x $1000 is enough to keep you afloat then go for it. I'm a one man operation as well, and these guys aren't wrong about the amount of work it takes - just up to you on whether it's worth it.

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Here's my Pitrace budget a few months ago. Granted that is 1000 miles away, vs Sebring 123 miles away.

Race Entry $1550 -

$400 tires w/mount, balance (.5 life after cmp)  

$ 400 Fuel to pitrac 1000mi/10mpg =100gallons x $3.57 per gal= $357×2 (there, then home)

$525 15hr x 7/hr x $5/gal race fuel

$1000 consumables ($128 walmart wiper blade, oil , Gatorade, brake pads@ $350/2 weekends=$175 )

$250 practice

$90 electric camp spot

=$4928

I would need to collect at least $4929 from 3 drivers, let them all drive first so I would know they got their time in (Saturday I didn't get to drive because the race was called early due to heavy rain) , then I finally get to drive if nothing breaks first.

 Before any of this happens I must  tow the car 16 hours from FL to Pitrace, then 15 hours  back to Florida  all while having built the car, and maintaining it for free.

 I truly enjoy  building a competitive and reliable rac car. However,  I am not going thru all of this for the chance that maybe I get to race at the end.

I use Hankooks that will normally last 2 good weekends, then they are probably ok for practices after that.

I use standard 87 octane in the Saab for towing,  and premium in the race car.

Brake pads are Carbotech

Edited by Chummy
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Thank you to everyone. I intended to be more proactive on the thread but work is nuts and my bank account was compromised (twice in a year, I’m beyond furious). I’ve just been reading and not able to reply.
The numbers I saw Black Magic (Can I call you Drew?) and Chummy are a little higher than I was calculating.  That said, my target price appears to be too low. I don’t plan to use fully built engines. I’m looking for sub 100k mile used and will put a new timing belt, oil pump, and water pump on them.  I’ve got one right now and have a line on a couple more.  Am I asking for trouble not tearing into them further? I do need to take truck and trailer maintenance into consideration. I just put a $2400 turbo on a truck I bought 6 months ago and and now it’s due for a clutch. Up to the point it’s been all “back of the napkin” math. I’ll delve deeper into the numbers on my days off. 

The goal is to be able to get on track 4 or 5 times a year. If I were to do arrive and drives as a renter as things are now I figure by the time I get seats, fly or drive there, get rooms, Uber or rent a car if I fly, dine out, and more I’m not considering it seems possible to nudge 2 grand plus per weekend. Multiply that by 4 or 5 weekends and we are talking a lot (for me) of money. I’m willing to exchange legwork up front for the ability to race if I can cut that number down substantially. My wife is very tolerant of my automotive hobbies but the bills have to be paid.
Plan B is to get adopted by the Sahlen’s family. Talk about an impressive operation.

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35 minutes ago, Lackluster said:

I’m looking for sub 100k mile used and will put a new timing belt, oil pump, and water pump on them.  I’ve got one right now and have a line on a couple more.  Am I asking for trouble not tearing into them further?

Depending on the engine, a new oil pump would be more then I would do, we run used, never opened engines typically 150k-200k with only minor maintenance (belt kit or timing chain guides {not chain} plugs, gaskets, front/rear main seal) and send it, lots and lots of pointy end podiums... The key is keeping it in a safe rpm zone, cool and oiled, often time I see fresh engines expire quickly because of some missed minute detail. Some things are better left alone.

 

Have never lost a head gasket, only 1 crankshaft related fail, the rest just wore out, usually rings after 3-4 years running 4 races a year... 60 races and counting.

Note: Automatic trans, never a $$ shift.

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On 11/15/2022 at 6:23 AM, Black Magic said:

Trans   $1000/8 races (wishful)

Are you really going through Neon transmissions every 8 weekends? What’s failing?  Does it frag the lsd when it happens? I am going to install a shifter with stops btw. 

 

1 hour ago, Team Infiniti said:

the rest just wore out, usually rings after 3-4 years running 4 races a year... 60 races and counting

This is in line with or better than what I was expecting. 

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1 hour ago, Lackluster said:

Are you really going through Neon transmissions every 8 weekends? What’s failing?  Does it frag the lsd when it happens? I am going to install a shifter with stops btw. 

 

This is in line with or better than what I was expecting. 

Also

Get a decent camera to keep a eye on both the driver and the gauges as what is often reported after a crash or mechanical fail may be vastly different then reality, nothing nefarious, our brains often do not store things as expected during sensory overload... Newbies are most at risk, but sometimes it can happen to anyone.

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@Team Infiniti 

One of the guys on my team is in IT so he put himself in charge of video. We have streamed 2 races now(1 CC and 1 citrus). I’m going to replicate the setup he bought for the team car.  Having a video of your stint on YouTube is a cool thing to be able to have/offer. You make a great point that it also clears up some questions after an incident.  Hopefully it will never come to that but it’s probably inevitable. 

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This year has definitely been an uptick in rental costs for my team and the first time we have consistently been over $1000 per weekend. However, I have only charged more than $1500 for a weekend twice, once on a trip to Laguna Seca with a test day and 3 race days and once on a trip to Utah where each driver had almost 5 hours of seat time. I have no doubt I'm spending money on things that I'm not accounting for (tow vehicle wear and tear is a good one) and I have 10+ years of built up spare parts and knowledge to draw from, but I think you can do it and I applaud your efforts and trying to keep this series affordable 👍

Edited by ABR-Glen
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/16/2022 at 1:05 PM, Lackluster said:

Are you really going through Neon transmissions every 8 weekends? What’s failing?  Does it frag the lsd when it happens? I am going to install a shifter with stops btw. 

 

3/4 shift fork pads, 3/4 syncros and bearings will die\break from stiff clutches or poor rebuild quality 

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On 11/28/2022 at 5:54 PM, Black Magic said:

 

3/4 shift fork pads, 3/4 syncros and bearings will die\break from stiff clutches or poor rebuild quality 

So I need a second trans and I need to find someone to rebuild it or learn myself. 

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On 12/2/2022 at 8:55 PM, rallyfreak said:

If you build it I will come. I’ve raced on 4 different Neon teams and am a sucker for more punishment. Based out of Michigan so likely within driving distance to tracks you might go to. 

It’s getting built.  I’d love to have feedback from someone that has been in other Neons.  I’m finalizing which races I’m going to do.  Autobahn for certain with the team car.  I need to talk to my teammates and make certain it’s ok to bring both cars. If so I’ll have seats there. I’d like to make it to Gingerman and Ozark. I took time off for the December Sebring race but that’s not local for either of us!

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On 12/4/2022 at 11:04 AM, Lackluster said:

So I need a second trans and I need to find someone to rebuild it or learn myself. 

 

Take the time to find spares in the 3.94 final .81 5th gear ratios you want. They can take some time to source.

 

Use mobil 1 or other good engine oil in the trans. Use stock pt cruiser clutch and make sure your shift cables\cable adjustment is set.

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