If you’re like most of us, wanting to race has been a longstanding desire that you haven’t been able to fulfill until now. Kids, career, buying a home…all of these have prevented you from going racing. Now, you’ve reached a point in your life where you can finally scratch the itch and get involved. Fantastic! This is a decision you will never regret.
As long time race fans, we remember the cars that are active in vintage racing from when they raced in the day. Maybe you went to the famous tracks like Watkins Glen or Road Atlanta to see them race or helped a buddy in the pits. These were great, interesting, exciting cars, each different and unique unlike contemporary race cars that tend to look and perform alike. Now you can race on the legendary tracks in a car you once only dreamt of driving.
So how to get started? First off, consider what kind of race car you would like to drive. As a new driver, you should think about a car that is easy to handle, not blindingly fast (that can come later) and reasonable to maintain. These are the general categories currently active in vintage racing:
Small Production Sports Cars – Beginner friendly, usually large fields. Examples: MGA, Sprite, Triumph Spitfire, Mini, etc.
Medium Production Sports Cars – Faster but still reasonable to prepare and race. Examples: Austin Healey, Porsche 911 & 914, Alfa Romeo, MGB, Lotus Elan, etc.
Large Production Sports Cars, Trans Am & Historic Stock Cars – Big, fast, loud and exciting. Cars like Camaros, Mustangs, Corvettes, Jaguar E types as well as Nascar racers from a decade or more ago. Count on more maintenance and expense.
Sports Racing Cars – These are purpose built race cars, mostly mid engine, from under 1 liter to 7 liter Cam Am monsters. Very popular are 2 liter Sports Racers like Chevron, Lola & Elva. These are “real” race cars and generally accelerate, stop and handle unlike production cars. A group growing in popularity is Sports 2000 which is fast, reliable and relatively inexpensive to race.
Formula Cars – Open wheel cars from Formula Ford, using a stock 1600cc engine to Formula 5000, with huge tires and 600bhp on tap from a 5 liter V8, formula racers are the purest form of race car. Formula Ford is the perfect starting point for a new racer. Economical to race, lots of competition and a great way to develop your skills.
A terrific alternative to buying a race car at the beginning of your vintage racing career is to rent one. Try one of our rental race cars for a test day or a weekend event. You’ll hone your skills and get a sense of what really appeals to you without making a large investment.
In order to go racing, you’ve got to have a racing license. The first step is to enroll in a professional race school like The Skip Barber School or Bob Bondurant Racing School. In a professional, controlled environment, you’ll learn the fundamentals of driving a race car and get some experience on the track. After completing the school, you can join a racing organization like SVRA and apply for a racing license. At your first event, you will be required to attend an orientation program at the track to familiarize you with operating procedures and determine if you are ready to race. Your license will be contingent upon successfully completing three events without incident.
Vintage Racing Services can help you navigate this entire process, from picking the right car to fulfilling the requirements for your racing license to making your first event a success. While the cars and the racing is the focus, there is more to vintage racing. Speak to most vintage racers and they’ll tell you that the people and the camaraderie we all enjoy is often the most memorable part of a race weekend. Our job at VRS is to see that you have a great time in a safe, hassle-free environment. We’ll take care of everything. All you have to do enjoy yourself.