In order to control racing costs, it is necessary to take some time to research and shop around. When purchasing many items, used items that are still in good condition is a very good option. Look at eBay, racing web sites, and other various places. When buying new items, again, take the time to shop around. It is amazing to look at the varying prices a person could pay for even very basic items. To help control your expenditures, define the various items that you need versus items you want. Do you need a 260 piece tool set? Do you need a racing jack? Do you need a race built engine? You get the point.
Being creative with your efforts can also go a long way in reducing your racing budget.
Consider selling your used tires if they are still in decent shape (not corded or flat spotted) on eBay targeting autocrossers. Yes, I have done this and am surprised at the amount of money people will pay for used racing tires.
Tire mounting: some racing tire manufactures will mount tires for free or at a discounted rate if you go to one of their distributorship locations. Some repair and tire shops owned by people who also race give other racers a price break. Ask around if someone in your area has any leads.
When looking at costs, don’t ignore the smaller ticket items that you will be purchasing. Windshield cleaner, brake fluid, paper towels, wires, zip ties, bolts, beer for you and your crew all add up. It is very easy to make a quick trip to the home improvement store and spend $50 or more on these types of small ticket items.
Should you put a dollar figure on your time? My opinion is no. It is not that your time isn’t valuable, it is that you are spending your time on a hobby that you enjoy. Racing did not choose you, you chose to race. When you are pushing a car to its limits and many times beyond, things will happen. Racing is a time consuming sport between general maintenance, repairs, studying, and the events themselves. I have heard the argument that people should associate $10 (as a minimum) for each hour they spend working on the racecar. While you do want to budget your time, the idea of associating a monetary amount per hour seems a bit silly. How much did sitting down watching television cost you? If you were to play basketball, would you associate an hourly figure shooting around? Think about all of the other activities you do – each has an associated trade off. If you have a job where you have the ability to earn additional money by working a few extra hours, then it makes sense to evaluate how long a project would take you to complete versus having someone else complete the work. But then again, that somewhat defeats the purpose. Hopefully time will be spent on your racing hobby because you enjoy it.
The following can lead to severe headaches and heartburn. Proceed with extreme caution. Having a strong beverage may be useful. The positive news is that it is not necessary to purchase all of these items at once. For example, plan on doing HPDEs for the first year, then plan on racing during the second year. This will spread many of the costs over time. (Listed prices do not include possible sales tax or shipping costs.)
Personal Safety Equipment Costs
Driver’s suit: $240
Fire retardant underwear (top and bottom): $90 total
Fire retardant socks: $15
Fire retardant racing gloves: $40
Racing shoes: $40
Helmet (Snell SA rated): $250
Buy a Pre-built Racecar: $3,000 to the sky is the limit
Summary of Primary Costs to Build a Racecar:
Donor car*: Estimated $1,000
Custom-made roll cage: $1,200 – $1700
Roll bar padding: $15 – $20
Window net and mounting hardware: $35
Suspension: $900 – $1,500
Glass sunroof replacement: $59
Racing seat: $250
Racing harness and mounting bolts: $88
Kill Switch and related accessories: $66
Racing brake pads for the front (one set): $135 – $150
OEM style brake pads for the rear: $35
Brake fluid: $10 – $15
Brake ducts: $65
Engine oil (4 quarts): $20
Transmission oil (OEM): $12
Fire extinguisher: $40
Transponder: $300 – $335
Wink mirror: $20
Steel rims (4): $150
Corner weighting: 12 pack of beer to a fellow racer or $90 – $150 to have a shop complete it.
Alignment: Another 12 pack of beer or $90 – $150 to have a shop complete it.
Paint the interior and roll bar: $104
Tow hooks: $20
Anti-sway bar bushings: $10
Vinyl numbers and class lettering: $40
Club decals: $18
Factory shop manual: $60 – $100
Fuel port: $15
Does looking at these costs make you think more about buying a pre-built racecar? In addition to these costs, other seemingly minor costs will be incurred (such as wires, tape, cleaning products). The above budget also assumes that you won’t be painting the exterior of the racecar.
The donor car price can have a significant range depending on the car you choose to purchase. It is very possible to purchase a used car for approximately $600, but it also very easy to spend much more money. Also, budget for any necessary maintenance and repairs for the donor car.