Amateur Racing 101 — A primer on race car driving
For some, the thrill of amateur racing — the need to defy speed, the urge to hear tires squeal, the desire to feel gritting teeth — beckons. What gets your motor revving? Autocross, drag racing, rally racing? Maybe another type of racing? Whichever type of amateur racing is for you, here’s what you need to know to start fueling what could become your new passion.
Types of racing … then types of racing cars
In amateur racing, you’ll probably have more fun (and success) if you focus on the type of race you want to compete in before pinpointing the kind of car you want.
- Autocross: Autocross is perhaps the best place for a beginner to start. In autocross, cars are driven around an obstacle course, typically marked by cones. Drivers navigate the course one at a time in this timed competition, making it a great entry-level motorsport. Drivers race against the clock instead of other drivers, making this the perfect stepping stone. All you need is a driver’s license, a helmet and a car to get started. Just find an event, register and show up.
- Drag racing: If you are looking for more of a challenge but still with separation from competing drivers, drag racing might be your ticket. In the simplest terms, drag racing pits two vehicles in a side-by-side acceleration contest, following a short, straight course. Nitro-burning, tire-squealing drag racing cars can be expensive, but don’t let that stop you from getting started. Check out your local raceway for bracket-racing opportunities where they’ll match your car against another of similar ability.
- Rally racing: For the serious adrenaline junky, throw unforgiving dirt into the mix. Rally racing features street-legal cars racing against the clock on closed-off sections of roads that are usually unpaved. According to Rally America, events can last several days and cover hundreds of miles through rain, snow, day or night. Two-person teams compete in the race. Your co-driver helps navigate the course using a course route book.
There are dozens of other ways to get started racing cars. Just make sure you are being safe, doing it legally and having fun. A little training might not hurt either, which brings us to the next section …
Race car driving lessons
Racing is a sport. It requires skill and practice, and so like any sport, a little training can go a long way. Race car driving lessons come in all forms. Here are some tips for finding the right training for you.
Always check references for any driving school and look online for complaints or bad reviews. Online forums can be especially helpful because you can ask drivers with more experience for advice. One popular forum you might want to look at is Autocross US. If you aren’t yet sure what kind of amateur racing is for you, think about a school like Simraceway Performance. Who wouldn’t want to vacation in Sonoma, Calif., anyway? This school offers just about every type of amateur race training you might want to try.
- Around and around the track: If you want to start driving your own car in autocross events, there are a number of schools across the country that specialize in teaching you how to race your own car. Know the rules though. You are responsible for any wear-and-tear on your car. If something breaks because you’ve pushed hard, that’s on you.
- The need for speed: Learning to control a high-powered vehicle at extreme speeds is something you are going to want to know how to do regardless of the type of racing you choose. A reputable formula racing school is a great place to acquire those skills. There are a lot of formula driving schools out there. Don’t just look for a brand name. Do your research and watch out for sticker-shock. You’re going to pay more for quality instruction. Don’t skimp. It’s worth it.
- Off road thrills: Rally driving requires some very unique skills, so you’ll want to seek out some specialized training. If you are considering rally racing, check out Rally America, the sanctioning organization for the Rally America National Championship, one of the biggest rally races in the United States. We’ve also read some good stuff about Dirtfish Rally School and they look like a pretty fun bunch.
Remember to always do your own research so you’ll be sure to find the amateur racing school that’s right for you.
Race car trailers
Unless you are planning to use your every-day car as your racing car, you are going to need a race car trailer to haul your car, spare parts and other gear. Enclosed trailers provide protection from the elements, have storage space for racing gear and provide a much more secure mode of transport for your precious cargo.
There are a few must-haves in any enclosed race car trailer. Every Pace American race trailer comes with must-have standard features, like electric brakes, sturdy frame, quality lighting, automotive undercoating and a heavy-duty floor.
If you are in it for the long haul and race car driving has become your thing, there are a few race car trailer accessories you’ll want to think about.
- Race car trailer flooring: Basic race car trailer flooring is usually vinyl. It’s highly durable but doesn’t provide much traction. Rubber treadplate flooring is going to provide better traction and longer durability. And if you want to go high-end, aluminum treadplate (ATP) adds even more style.
- Tie-downs: Be sure to review the holding capacity of the D-rings and other tie-downs before you buy a race trailer to make sure your cargo will be secure. And you may want to consider surface- or flush-mounted E-track on the walls or floor to create more versatile storage options.
- Race trailer cabinets: Custom cabinets can be a real lifesaver when you need a part and you need it right now. A well-organized race trailer can mean the difference between being ready or missing your start time.
- Customize it to the max: Look to Pace American for a super tricked-out trailer. We’ve got a long list of options and skilled crafts people at your disposal who will build you a trailer beyond your wildest dreams.
Race car trailer manufacturers
When choosing a race car trailer manufacturer, take the following into consideration — price, selection, inventory, experience and dealer support. Pace American has been a leader in trailers for more than 25 years because we excel in each of these areas and consistently deliver high-quality race trailers at the right price. Experience the Pace American quality promise for yourself at a Pace American dealer near you.
Get out there and have fun!