Have you found yourself dreaming about being on track in your pride and joy (or Sh*tbox) while attending Gridlife, Formula Drift, Global Time Attack or just watching your favorite youtuber? What if I told you your dream is not far out of your reach? While Ty and the team are trying to fix what I broke in competition, I spend my time talking to y’all the spectators who came to see us drive. These interactions with y’all have prompted me to write this post in hopes to get you in a seat driving whether it is Autocross, HPDE, or Time Attack.
Autocross is most people’s gateway drug into the motorsports world because of some simple facts:
- It can be done in a true streetcar
- Requires minimal modifications (I’d suggest tires and brakes)
- Entry fees are CHEAP.
Depending on who you autocross with entry fees will cost you between $30-$70 per event. For the people who don’t have the money for track weekends or are worried about damaging their cars autocross is a great option. I started using my Mazda3, then FC RX-7, and now S2000 in autocross. For some, autocross is all they ever need to scratch their itch.
What if Autocross just doesn’t do it for you?
The next step in motorsports is HPDE (High Performance Driving Education) Events
AKA: Racing School for aspiring track drivers
These are non-competition events held at race tracks in order to teach you proper track etiquette. HPDE events are broken into classroom sessions taught by a head instructor and one on one track instruction from experienced instructors. These events are more expensive than Autocross but depending on the track and organization you drive with you can expect the entry fees to cost about $300-$500 per event. HPDE Events are typically two-day events but single-day events are available for cheaper rates.
The modifications required for HPDE are a little more extensive than a basic autocross, you still need tires and brakes but, I would also recommend upgrading your suspension and cooling systems. Another thing to consider about doing HPDE events are the risks involved with faster speeds, there is a chance you could crash your car, blow up drivetrain components, or damage other aspects of your car. So, the thing you have to ask yourself is are you ok with writing off your car? If you aren’t and you have the money you can purchase track insurance to cover yourself in a worst-case scenario but that is a conversation for another day.
What if you had your fill of HPDE Events and are a competitive person?
There are many different avenues you can take to move up to the next level, but I gravitated to Time Attack.
Time Attack events are held at road courses where cars compete for the fastest lap. Time Attack entry costs are very similar to those of HPDE Events. However, the car costs get significantly higher because you need to start investing in safety gear (Roll cages, fire suits, HANs Devices, etc) and you race car parts (Coilovers, Aero, Turbos, Cooling System, Fuel System, etc). Attending these events is where you need all those things you learned in HPDE because you are now on track with 25 other cars and they are trying to accomplish the same thing you are which is drive the fastest lap. They are also expecting you to drive safely within your limits and you need to be aware of the cars around you and what other drivers are doing to prevent accidents. I highly suggest not trying to jump right into Time Attack without the proper training because you can get yourself hurt or someone else hurt.
I hope the takeaway from this is:
No matter what you drive, your experience level, or what state your car is in, you can have fun racing and find a place where you belong.
I urge you to be safe no matter what motorsport you choose and I hope to see you on track or hanging out at an event with me and the team in the future!