1 (edited by parkerjm 2024-07-03 11:58 AM)

Topic: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

I got a few friends together who were all-in on the idea of racing a dirt cheap car. sounds great! So I found an old Toyota Yaris, got it for 400 dollars somehow, in great shape, didn't really need much mechanical work, just a tune up, some new tires, brakes. no big deal. went ahead and gutted it before getting a quote for the roll cage. expected it to be around 2000 dollars.

but oh, the cage costs 3600 dollars... and you need 700 dollars worth of personal safety equipment (if you want the cheap shit)... oh and race seat + mounts and the steering wheel + QD... and the fire system... and of course a few spare wheels+tires... and of course the event is going to cost 2000 itself... then there's the HANS and gas

so just have to spend 2500 per person to race a 500 dollar car. I'm still all in on this thing, but the rest of my team dropped out over the cost of it. I know after the first year it's way easier/cheaper to keep racing, but it's hard to find people who will make that initial investment. it's a big barrier of entry.

are we going about this wrong? is there really a way to do this on the cheap?

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

it's a big barrier of entry.

yep

are we going about this wrong? is there really a way to do this on the cheap?

it's cheaper to buy a car that's already built, but you'll just save a bit up front by doing that. there's no way around it, racing is expensive AF.

sucks, but it is what it is.

BSOD Racing, 1987 Fiat X1/9

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

rozap_ wrote:

there's no way around it, racing is expensive AF.


I tell people that Lemons racing is cheapER (compared to some other forms of racing) but definitely not CHEAP.

Captain
Team Super Westerfield Bros.
'93 Acura Integra - No VTEC Yo!

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

It is less expensive to buy an already built car, or do an arrive and drive with an existing team that needs another driver.

You can rent gear from Race Suit Rental for around $200.  Expect an arrive and drive to cost 1/4 of the entry fees plus your share of expenses.  I have seen $600-1200 for expenses depending on the type of car and hours in seat.  I could be way off on costs these days.

Team whatever_racecar #745 Volvo wagon

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

Everyone on these forums always says it's better to buy than build but to me the ruins half the fun!  I learned a lot building our car and spent good times with friends.  I also feel pride knowing what I've done.  Maybe that's not for everyone and buying may be cheaper than building but man I just feel like this forum is kinda one sided on this topic!  (But to be fair I can overhaul and engine and weld so maybe less barrier to entry?)

How do you find people who will actually commit?  I have no idea.  I'd wanted to do Lemons for years (but didn't put real effort in) before something coalesced

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

I see your other team post, but keeping this on track, my suggestions are:

1. Read EriktheAwful's 'Sticky' in the Lemons Newcomers subtopic; and all the responses. (And then all the rest of the 'stickies' - cost is always a surprise).
2. The suggestions above are almost a mantra now.
3. Yaris _should_ be easy on consumables, which will help especially in races 2, 3, 4, etc.
4. Tubing I can find is about 50% - 60% higher than three years ago.

Quality equipment set initial outlay for the two sports I play ran about the same as a race weekend like you figured.

It's the initial hit; once you pass tech, if your team stays out of trouble and you don't break anything your weekend costs drop dramatically. Start looking at that number for encouragement.

Good luck

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

The more you race, the cheaper the cost gets per race. If you want to do a "one and done" its much better to rent safety gear and arrive & drive with a rookie sympathetic team.

A lot of teams spend more than $500 in fuel for the weekend. So the "racing for $500 cars" tagline is a bit surreptitious for sure.

1989 Merkur XR4Ti: Project Merkur Space Program - Wins: Class C - Colonel and the Sinkhole 2023 | "Heroic Fix" The Pitt Maneuver 2023 | "Halloween Meets Gasoline" The Pitt Maneuver 2022
1980 Dodge Challenger: Most Extreme eLemonAtion Challenger (Rust Belt Ramble 2021 Dishonorable Mention)

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

Zacks wrote:

Everyone on these forums always says it's better to buy than build but to me the ruins half the fun! ... Maybe that's not for everyone and buying may be cheaper than building but man I just feel like this forum is kinda one sided on this topic!  (But to be fair I can overhaul and engine and weld so maybe less barrier to entry?)

I don't think most of us think it is "better", just less expensive/lower barrier to entry when you are getting started.

Parker,

Keep in mind that you don't HAVE to have the car done for any particular race.  Make it a slow and steady goal if you are on your own, and arrive and drive for a few races in the meantime.  You'll get to see how a team is run, and maybe see several teams' operations.  That will help later when you start running your own car, as you'll spot things you want to do on your team and things you want to avoid doing.

When I started, I raced as an A&D with a team for a couple of races my first year while I was slowly getting my car ready.  I stalked Ebay for racing gear, looking for closeouts and  "raced once" (or lightly used) stuff to build my kit over a few months.  That saved a lot of money.  I've upgraded since then, but you don't have to go all-out right off the bat. And the "cheap shit" still meets SFI certification, so it is appropriate safety gear even if it lacks the "cool racer" labels and style points. 

The ballpark figure for building a car used to be about $5k, but is probably closer to $6k now. As mentioned, the price of roll bar tubing has gone up significantly, as has shipping and everything else with inflation the past couple of years.  I'm sure good cage builders are charging significantly more than the $2800 we paid for our last cage a few years back.  And don't forget the hidden associated costs: fuel cans, refueling wagon, canopy, etc. But don't let that stop you from building.  A&D driving while you slowly prep you car (as budget and time allow) isn't a bad way to go if you don't have the resources to get it done "now".

Half Fast Racing      2 New Beetles and a Miata
Class C win, MSR 2023; previously 2x 2nd in C, 3x 3rd in C.
I Got Screwed AND Halloween Meets Gasoline, Sebring 2024
Two Wrongs and a Right, NOLA 2021

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

parkerjm wrote:

…is there really a way to do this on the cheap?

For starters, focus on buying fire suits, gloves, etc. used…we saved about 75% on that equipment buying used but in good condition.

You should splurge on racing brake pads (ST43 or similar) and brake fluid, but cheap out on tires for your first race.

Try to get your racing seat, wheel and disconnect used as well.

Talk with your team and come up with a monthly budget to spend on Lemons that everyone can afford. It might take a year or so to get ready, but it will get easier afterwards.

EPA Racing - #40 Supercharged Dodge Caliber

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

Stan in Bham wrote:

Keep in mind that you don't HAVE to have the car done for any particular race.  Make it a slow and steady goal if you are on your own, and arrive and drive for a few races in the meantime.

I think this is really important advice. Building a car takes a TON of time, money, and frustration. Running with established teams will give you plenty of inspiration and confidence for what you should (and perhaps shouldn't) do when you make it to your first race.

parkerjm wrote:

are we going about this wrong? is there really a way to do this on the cheap?

Not necessarily wrong, but since you mentioned a $3600 cage, allow me to present the possibility that you could save $1k-$2k right here by measuring and ordering a kit and installing it yourself (or by recruiting a welder to your team and have him burn it in for seat time). This will take more time but you will learn skills that will benefit you down the road: Lemons is the only reason I know how to weld.

"THE WONDERMENT CONSORTIUM"
Everything dies baby that's a fact,
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back?

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

Limonaid wrote:

You should splurge on racing brake pads (ST43 or similar) and brake fluid, but cheap out on tires for your first race.

this is terrible advice IMO

"THE WONDERMENT CONSORTIUM"
Everything dies baby that's a fact,
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back?

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

This is such a common theme... there's so many "started Lemons projects" out there that were abandoned after gutting, and now worth less than when they started. Hopefully it makes you feel better, but I think you're in the majority of teams who don't make it to their first race, or run no more than a few races and fizzle out.

IMO, it sounds like your lacking leadership and organization, someone should have spent at least 15 minutes of background research on this before purchasing a car and tearing it apart. Every team needs at least one person whose willing to do all the non-fun stuff... the research, excel spreadsheets, book-keeping, and the planning. Call them the captain, team mom, whatever, but basically one person who doesn't mind dealing with extra stress and the crappy work and receiving absolutely zero benefit from it.

I think the first step is to ask yourself if you're willing to be that guy? If not, I'd highly recommend joining another team and letting this one go. It's awesome that you're excited about it, but a common theme between every team that's fizzled out is that there isn't anyone organizing the team. I get it, I don't think any captain wants to be a captain... but if you want to get a car ready and run at least 2 races, someone has to do it.

If you are willing to be that guy... the next question is how you are going to fund it. Some teams split the startup costs equal ways and are equal owners (I'm not a huge fan of this as people come and go over the years), some captains own the car 100% and fund the startup off their wallet (this is what I do now), or the 3rd option is work it off (this is how we funded our first car). We funded our first car for free by getting a solid deal on buying out a whole team (caged car+trailer+spares). We sold all of the upgrades off the car, sold all the expensive spares, and sold the trailer. Then, we did side work on top of preparing the car to pump in more liquid cash (one miata soft top, and we also did a fix/flip on a c4 corvette). Our first race ended up being as cheap as all the following races. If you don't have the money, you can turn time into money; if you have neither, then I'm afraid your SOL. The 4th option is find other team mates with more commitment and deeper pockets.

Full Ass Racing (Captain)
#455 Piñata Miata - 1990 Miata   |   #735 BMDollhÜr 7Turdy5i - 1990 735i (Sold)

Experienced race-loser, 1x winner

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

racing is expensive and Lemons is on the cheap side, honestly $3600 for a roll cage is not bad at all, I ran with another team and now have built my own car with a friend, we sprint the cost. it is a lot more than we thought AND we have had it in 2 races this year and the car did not make it through a race yet, we are hoping Road America this year will be the first race we complete. I am happy to share our build cost with you if you would like to see what it costs to build a car from scratch and keep it running.

on a side note if you are running a yurts which is front wheel drive you should really change your CV's and your front wheel bearings this is something that you will be doing every 1-2 races

good luck!

Team Captain: Highway to Schnell '06 VW GTI, it did run for a very short time! we will get there!
Team member: The Neighbors '89 Foxbody notchback 4 races, finished 2
no wins yet but hoping!

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

derekste wrote:
Limonaid wrote:

You should splurge on racing brake pads (ST43 or similar) and brake fluid, but cheap out on tires for your first race.

this is terrible advice IMO

I normally don't disagree with Derek, but I would offer a different opinion on this.

I would have phrased it differently, but I somewhat agree with the advice in spirit (for a first race or two). Don't "cheap out" on tires, but don't think you have to start your first race on the best tires out there.  More specifically, I would NOT recommend the $50 Westlake all-seasons from Walmart, but you don't need to go all-out on tires with Hankooks or Azenis when you are still figuring out what is going to break on the car.  Just recognize the level of tires you are running and drive accordingly. 

Do get good brake pads and racing (high temp) fluid.  If ST43 pads are out of your price range, look for Hawk or EBC (or similar). They won't last as long, but they won't hurt as bad when paying. After a couple of races, when you are starting to figure out what you're doing, upgrade your tires (and brakes).

Half Fast Racing      2 New Beetles and a Miata
Class C win, MSR 2023; previously 2x 2nd in C, 3x 3rd in C.
I Got Screwed AND Halloween Meets Gasoline, Sebring 2024
Two Wrongs and a Right, NOLA 2021

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

I'm with Derek. Hankook RS4's really aren't that expensive and last forever. All seasons can be cheaper, but they don't perform well, and if you actually try to drive them hard they won't last nearly as long as a set of RS4's since you'll overheat them, melt them, and/or delaminate them (at least out here where it's always hot). A new team doesn't need the pace and grip that a better tire (like an RS4) can provide, but if you under-drive an RS4 at the pace of an all-season, they literally won't wear, and if you get to a point where you get faster, they are ready to take the pace. IMO, if you look at it from a $/race perspective, I don't think a set of RS4's will cost more in the long run, and they're far more capable.

Full Ass Racing (Captain)
#455 Piñata Miata - 1990 Miata   |   #735 BMDollhÜr 7Turdy5i - 1990 735i (Sold)

Experienced race-loser, 1x winner

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

Like a few others in here, our team has sort of arrived at a hybrid team/arrive and drive combo after trying to do the whole team involvement thing at the beginning.  I figured out pretty quickly that if we were ever going to get on track I would need to do most of the heavy lifting both in build expenditures and labor and logistics.  For me it was fine to do that, this was mostly my stupid idea in the first place and I figured that when I've had enough I can move on from the car without making some kind of agreement with the rest of the team.

As was mentioned, time is your friend, don't set your first race in stone if budgets are an issue.  I took more than a year to piece my car together as my budget allowed and we really didn't start talking seriously about which race to enter until after I got the cage done as for me that was the biggest expense/project that would hold things up.  Taking your time also gives you the ability to shop for sales/deals/closeouts and marketplace for used parts and safety gear.  Plan ahead and watch for holiday sales or end of season sales for things like brake pads and tires.

  Related to that, is that even more so in Lemons than anywhere, you don't have to put a finished product on track.  Make it safe/legal. make it run and get out there.  After that you can figure out what things are important to you and the team and what's not.

#27 Glacial Pace Racing A4

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

duthehustle93 wrote:

I don't think a set of RS4's will cost more in the long run, and they're far more capable.

I agree on the RS4s and keep in mind used RS4s are an option as well.  A lot of the faster cars get new tires for every race, and their take-offs would likely be just fine for you.  Shipping cost might be prohibitive unless you attend a race and pick the tires up locally.  We always have decent used RS4s that we would let go pretty cheap, but again, you'd need to be at the race to get them.

Captain
Team Super Westerfield Bros.
'93 Acura Integra - No VTEC Yo!

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

duthehustle93 wrote:

...Hankook RS4's really aren't that expensive and last forever...

Every team will have a different standard for the cost/value equation.  It sounds like the original poster's team is very budget-conscious, so I wouldn't recommend the Hankooks.  RS-4s will cost about $175 each/700 per set, depending on size.  For a new team with a restricted budget, I'd recommend a lower cost tire for the first couple of races; once they decide to stick with it - and figure out what the heck they are doing - better tires would definitely be in order.  The outflow of cash as a team starts up is shocking to a lot of folks, and they can find somewhat lesser HP tires at a much lower price. Those won't match the tires that the fast teams are using, but new teams won't match that pace anyway. 

If you can find once-raced RS-4s, buy them.  Keep in mind that most teams get 2 to 3 races out of a set.  The tread holds up well, but the grip falls off after a couple of races as they harden up after numerous heat cycles.

Half Fast Racing      2 New Beetles and a Miata
Class C win, MSR 2023; previously 2x 2nd in C, 3x 3rd in C.
I Got Screwed AND Halloween Meets Gasoline, Sebring 2024
Two Wrongs and a Right, NOLA 2021

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

It's tough finding folks willing to drop that initial chunk of change. From what I've seen, some folks try finding sponsors or joining leagues with more relaxed safety requirements to cut down on those pricey safety gear and cage costs.

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

Stan in Bham wrote:
duthehustle93 wrote:

...Hankook RS4's really aren't that expensive and last forever...

Every team will have a different standard for the cost/value equation.  It sounds like the original poster's team is very budget-conscious, so I wouldn't recommend the Hankooks.  RS-4s will cost about $175 each/700 per set, depending on size.  For a new team with a restricted budget, I'd recommend a lower cost tire for the first couple of races

I agree. They will not be as fast, but it will give the new team chance to get out there on a lower budget to see if they want to keep going.

EPA Racing - #40 Supercharged Dodge Caliber

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

Getting out there is more important than getting out there with the good stuff the first time.

The learning curve is steep. I wouldn't even tell you to get fancy pads and brake fluid for the first race. Pull the hose off the brake booster and plug the vacuum leak.

Nobody is going to over drive into a corner when the brake pedal is hard to press.

That guy

Re: it's hard to get started... team dropped out over cost

another thing to keep in mind after you build a new Lemons car is that the first few races will quickly show you what works and what does not, you very likely won't finish the first few races (don't ask how I know this lol) just stick with it!

Team Captain: Highway to Schnell '06 VW GTI, it did run for a very short time! we will get there!
Team member: The Neighbors '89 Foxbody notchback 4 races, finished 2
no wins yet but hoping!