There are alternatives that'll help you get racing experience (and even individualized coaching), such as TrackDaze and Sports Car Club of America. Again, the emphasis is on safety. TrackDaze attendees, for example, are required to attend classroom sessions to review guidelines and procedures at each event. Your car has to be safe, too. Each organization has its own rules about car condition, but generally, your car must pass a technical inspection to ensure it's in good working order.
Though this option has a much lower sticker price per event, you shouldn't consider these organizations strictly in terms of cost. True, the registration fee is a fraction of a racing school's, but in this case, you're putting your own vehicle on the line. The cost for a weekend at a High Performance Drivers Education (HPDE) event or club track day isn't always less than the one-time cost of attending a school, since you use and wear out your own car in these programs. You should be able to perform emergency repairs yourself (or with the help of friends). Hobby racers are used to replacing parts often, and many track regulars own a separate car (and in some situations, a trailer and tow vehicle) for weekend racing. Even if you make it off the track without incident, you've likely toasted your clutch, tires and brakes while burning through tanks of expensive race fuel. Also, consider that your car insurance won't cover damage incurred at a track, and racing may affect or void your manufacturer's warranty (if a dealership finds out about it, that is).
Though club racing will ultimately make you a better, safer driver in your own car (and will be a ton of fun, to boot), it's a bigger long-term investment than many people realize. Either way, extensive dabbling in racing is going to be expensive.
Now you understand the investments in cost and time, but the thrills that await are simply too great. In that case, you might have what it takes to be a racer. The next page has links to great information about racing school and motorsports.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. (June 13, 2010)http://www.bondurant.com
- Bentley, Ross. "Speed Secrets: Professional Race Driving Techniques." MPI Publishing Company. 1998.
- Houston, Rick. "Bristol Motor Speedway." Stock Car Racing Magazine. February 2009. (June 16, 2010)http://www.stockcarracing.com/featurestories/scrp_0809_bristol_motor_speedway/index.html
- Skip Barber Racing School. (June 13, 2010)http://www.skipbarber.com/
- Sports Car Club of America. "Driver's School." (June 15, 2010)http://www.scca.org/contentpage.aspx?content=38
- Stein, Jason. "Driver's Ed." Slate. June 13, 2008. (June 9, 2010)http://www.slate.com/id/2193496/
- TrackDaze. (June 9, 2010)http://www.trackdaze.com