Metal-to-metal contact seems to happen at every race weekend. Sometimes the consequences are minor (we’ve seen lots of tire rubber on fenders) and sometimes the consequences involve major damage to one or more cars. Less often discussed are similar incidents where there is no contact, but where a dangerous situation is created (e.g. you force me off the track).
For those who have yet to discover an entry point into on-track performance driving, the process of getting there can be a bit intimidating and confusing at times – it’s one of the main reasons who we decided to create this series in the first place.
The Guide to Road Racing: Winding Road Magazine’s ultimate guide to getting your start in racing.
So you want to get started in competitive road racing, but you don’t know where to begin? Fret not, as this is the first chapter in our ongoing series chronicling my journey toward the goal of becoming a bonafide race car driver from a background devoid of previous motorsport experience. Accordingly, I’ll be starting this process with nothing more than the desire to challenge my fellow man in the arena of amateur motorsport and a vehicle to do it with. So, where to begin? Well, above all else, I knew there was one simple question I needed to answer: What do I need to do in order to get involved?
In our previous segment of the guide we introduced you to Track Night in America, a new SCCA program designed to serve as a low-cost entry point into driving on road courses with street cars. Within the SCCA ecosystem, it’s fair to consider Time Trials as the natural next step up the ladder from Track Nights in terms of driver experience and progression, and along with autocross events, for many it serves as the first exposure to a competitive driving environment. That newfound element here serves to ratchet up both the intensity and driver’s responsibility to be keenly aware of his or hers situation on-course substantially.
After completing Driver School and a race the following day, we set our sights on the next local SCCA race: a two day divisional event at Willow Springs International Raceway. With class in the rear view and racing season in full swing, the training wheels were coming off and it was time to build upon what was learned thus far and expand from there.
One of the cool things about Cal Club Super School is that it takes place in the two days before the first race of the season. That means we walked into the first day of race school on a Friday with no track experience and by Sunday morning we somehow found ourselves prepping to take our qualifying laps for the race later that day. Our instructor kept reminding us to “think about it like it’s another practice”, but that’s certainly easier said than done. For us, the simplest way to stay relaxed and focused on the task at hand was to eliminate the logistical guesswork ahead of time so we had an idea of what to expect when the green flag dropped and things got real.
Like many sports, racing has written and unwritten rules. And, just like other sports, it is the unwritten rules that can often get you in the most trouble or lead to the biggest misunderstandings.
There is plenty of confusion about what an annual tech inspection of your race car actually covers. Here is a simple guide to help you understand.
With the Novice Permit secured and the light reading of the 2014 SCCA rulebook to tide us over until Buttonwillow, we set our sights on procuring the necessary safety gear we’d need for Cal Club Super School. We’re starting from scratch here, so we needed a helmet, a racing suit, gloves, and shoes. We also opted to use a balaclava and Nomex socks as well, though their inclusion is not required by the SCCA. Here’s a look at what we got and why we got it.
In this installment of the guide we’ll be diving into the ChampCar series, and what sets it apart from the more traditional sanctions like SCCA and NASA. We recently had the opportunity to run a stint amongst a six-driver team in a ChampCar 24 hour endurance race, held at Buttonwillow Raceway. For a number of reasons, this sort of racing is substantially different from the Spec Miata SCCA sprint racing we’ve been discussing thus far, so we’ll be covering some of the key components that make both ChampCar and the endurance racing format unique in comparison to our previous segments.
We’ve been having such a great time working toward our SCCA Competition License running in the Spec Miata class races that we almost forgot that there’s still plenty of cool events you can do with daily driver. As the weather warms up, autocross events are popping up around the country, so we decided to take the Winding Road Challenger out to the autocross for a closer look at this very fun and accessible way to get involved in road racing.
Now that we’ve acquired the necessary safety equipment, it’s time to get ready for racing school. As you may recall from Part I, we’re signed up for Cal Club Super School, a rigorous two-day course which, upon completion, makes us eligible to race the following day. If you’re never raced before, you probably have some questions about how to best prepare yourself to be successful in the classroom and on the track. Let’s take a look at some of the important steps to take before school starts, and in turn answer some of the questions you’re likely to have before you even have to ask them.
As a young racer I found myself listening to more seasoned drivers discussing rain lines at the track with great curiosity, like they belonged to a secret club. I read and asked questions but found a myriad of answers that never worked that well for me. Ultimately, I determined that my own aggressive research was my best hope for a rain strategy that produced consistent results. I have a short attention span and sports that can’t kill me do little to keep my interest. I guess that’s why I found racing so appealing – specifically road racing.
Because Winding Road Racing has three motorsports equipment retail stores and runs both club racing and pro-am teams, we talk to a lot of people in the amateur motorsports world. A suprising number of them have lots of questions about how to get into the game.
A frighteningly high percentage of wrecks and metal-metal incidents happen on race starts. On the one hand, that’s understandable since that’s where the largest number of cars are very close together. We might say that proximity breeds contact. But the view that “things happen” really doesn’t cover how you should think about race starts. And it doesn’t cover how your fellow racers think about how you start races.
In this installment of The Guide we’ll take a look at HPDE and track days, which are perhaps the easiest and possibly most common – along with Autocross — entry point to road racing. As a refresher, we took a couple of cars to a weekend track day held by Edge Addicts at Circuit of the Americas.
Customers often ask us what kinds of racing opportunities there are. We start them with this chart because many neophytes want a kind of map to the sport.
C’mon man! While you’re working on your racecraft, one of the big things is working on the ability to out-brake other cars so you can pass them on the inside. But to do this, you have to be able to judge how much distance you can make up by late braking and still get the car slowed down (more than normal, typically, because you’re on the inside).