Q: How can I get started in SpecE30 Racing?
A: Step 1 is to join NASA and get on the track! You start your adventure by participating in NASA's High Performance Driving Event (HPDE). NASA's Group 1 HPDE program provides you with an experienced instructor to help guide you through the event, one-on-one, as you learn how to handle your car on a road racing course. You set your own goals and go as fast as you feel comfortable going. You can progress as far as you want, even get a competition license. Basically, all you need is a safe car and a helmet. The car does not have to be fancy or fast. Students bring everything from a Hyundai to a Ferrari. Read the requirements for the other miscellaneous items required. If you are serious about becoming a road racer do yourself a favor and purchase Dave Gran's new book "Go Ahead Take the Wheel - Road Racing on Your Budget". Other pathways to racing would be attending a Skip Barber or Jim Russell competition course or acquiring a Novice Race license through the SCCA . For more info about the NASA Competition license process click here.
Q. What does it take to get a competition license?
A. Unless you have a license with another organization, you will have to participate in a region's licensing program to obtain a Provisional License. Contact your Regional Director for more information about programs in your home region. NASA requires you to work your way through it's HPDE program before you can apply to test for you competition license. HPDE has four run group levels; Group 1 through Group 4. Group 1 is for novice drivers while Group 4 offers unlimited passing for seasoned drivers. Success in Group 4 allows you to apply for you Competition license. A general rule-of-thumb is to plan for a solid year of HPDE events before applying for your NASA competition license.
Q. Where can I find a car for SpecE30?
A. SpecE30 uses the popular 3-series BMW built between the years 1984 and 1991. Over 2.2 million E30s were produced between the years 1984 and 1991 so there are plenty of donor cars available to the prospective racer. SpecE30 uses the 6-cylinder (M20) powerplant in the 325i or 325is models. Used cars and parts are plentiful and decent donor cars can be found for less than $1,000.
Q. What makes a SpecE30 race car?
A. The rules for SpecE30 are very simple and straightforward. Basically the engines and drivetrains remain stock with a mandated Spec Exhaust. Suspensions are upgraded for racing conditions using spec parts; race springs, shocks, camber plates and aftermarket sway bars. All SpecE30 race cars currently use Toyo RA-1s as the spec series tire. SpecE30 race cars are required to meet a minimum weight and all are required to have NASA approved safety upgrades such as roll cages, window nets, race seats and harnesses. See NASA Club Codes and Regulations for minimum safety requirements. The intent of SpecE30 is to provide a highly competitive, affordable, fun, and safe racing series that showcases driver's skills as well as the spec component manufacturers, distributors and dealers.
Q. How much does it cost to build a SpecE30 race car?
A. Depending on the original condition and cost of your donor car and your mechanical skills, competitive SpecE30 race cars can be built for between $7,000 and $10,000. Your SpecE30 can be kept street legal such that you could drive it to the track. However, most racers trailer their cars to the track thus trailers and tow rigs may need to be added to your cost equation. For a pre-built sorted out SpecE30 race car expect to pay anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000 depending on the quality of the build and the race history of the car.
Q. What does a season of racing cost?
A. A full season of sprint racing in NASA NorCal typically has eight weekends of racing during the year. Race entry fees range from $300 to $349 (depending on the track). This gets you two days of racing and includes two practice sessions, two qualifying sessions and two sprint races. Each sprint race is 30 minutes long. Add to this the cost of gas, lodging, food and other consumables and you're looking at about $500-$700 per race weekend. This equates to approximately $4,000 to $6,000 per year for a full season not counting major repairs or maintenance on your race car. To cut costs even further two racers can share their SpecE30 and compete as a team. With NASA's racing format of two races per weekend, one driver races on Saturday the other on Sunday. Spec E30s may also compete in NASA's German Touring Car Series and in NASA's Performance Touring Car Series.
Q. What other things do I need to race?
A. You'll need a full compliment of personal safety gear; helmet, Nomex suit, Nomex underwear, gloves, shoes, and a SFI 38.1 approved head & neck restraint. Plan on spending at least $1,500 and up for your gear.
For more info please e-mail your questions to NorCalSpecE30. Also check out the National SpecE30 website.
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