Dear Future Racer!

If you ask a local racer about the SCCA they are likely to tell you that the club organizes the safest and most competive wheel to wheel racing around. If you think SCCA road racing is something you'd like to try, here are some thoughts from me on getting started.

Are you sure it's road racing you want?
Keep in mind that there are lots of ways to "go fast". Local car clubs like the ZCar Club, BMW Club, and Porsche club organize track days where drivers can turn fast laps on a track in their street or race car without the pressure of competition or the need to have a fully prepared race car. Drivers don't battle for corners and passing is typically "point-by" only. SOLO or Autocross events (both SCCA and BMW Club have great programs) involve cone courses set up in a local parking lot and competitors try (one at a time) to be the fastest through the course. These types of events are open to both stock and race prepared cars. The cost is very reasonable (sometimes as little as $30/day). If this sounds boring or like something you're already doing...

SCCA Club Racing
Club racing with the SCCA is the real deal - wheel to wheel racing with other race cars on a dedicated road course (read about local tracks here). Competitors must race in cars that have been converted into complete race cars, adhere to the rules for their class, and pass a rigorous technical inspection for safety. This means that at a minimum your car has been modified to have a full roll cage, fire system, battery shutoff, racing harness and a racing seat. In most cases the car undergoes major suspension and engine modifications, the interior is removed, etc. The racing is intense - large run groups of cars (sometimes as many as 50 or more!) battle in close quarters on the track to win each race. Trophies are awarded to the top three finishers in each class of cars and many racers aim to do well enough in their class to be eligible for the national Run Offs race at the end of the season.

If road racing is for you...
• Experience an event (see the schedule here). For the best learning experience, volunteer to work a corner and get up close to the action.
• Talk to some racers! (find us on the message board or contact list)
• Try a HPTD (contact the Chief Instructor), an on-track High Performance Track Driving session with an instructor during a race weekend. The HPTD is FREE if you work a corner during the same weekend!
• Read the "getting started" guidelines provided by the national SCCA office.

Other things to consider
In order to race, you'll have to get a racing license (details on the SCCA website). You can either accomplish this by coming to designated racing events with your (or a rented) race car, or by attending a professional school like these:
     • local: Go 4 It Racing School
     • national: Bob Bondurant School

You'll also need to buy or prep a race car. Picking a class of car to start with can be overwhelming, so talk to lots of people to get an idea of what sort of car suits your driving style and budget. Some racing schools and local race prep shops (see the links page) have race cars for rent so you can try them on for size (either at an open track day or in a racing event). There's no denying that racing can be a bottomless pit when it comes to cash flow, but there are definitely affordable (and extravagant!) ways to go racing. Experienced racers and prep shops can lead you in the right direction.

You'll need to be sure you have all the right safety gear for yourself and your race car. Consult the GCR for requirements and ask current racers for advice on buying things like your first helmet, fire suit or nomex driving shoes. Consider attending the annual Fire Safety ("Crash and Burn") School to learn more about how you and the safety crew should respond to emergencies on the track.

Good luck!

Christine Jerritts
FE #07
September 2007