Sunday, January 30, 2011

(129) Breaking the budget

You probably expected me to update sooner than this, and I do apologize for the blank period.

Unfortunately there is a bit of bad news. Like I said in December, I was looking at racing Formula F in the SCCA this year. Sadly, my preliminary cost predictions were off by about $10,000. So, as a result, I need to find something much less expensive to race.

Formula F is really the only formula car I was capable of running in SCCA. Everything else with wheels on the outside is either much, much older tech, or is much more expensive. The next class up from FF is Formula Continental. I would be stretching it if I tried to drive one of those cars for less than $35,000 per year.

Remember, I don't have the space to own my own car, and in many cases (though not all) having someone store and prep it would cost just as much as renting it. Not to mention the fact that even used open-wheel race cars are about 20 grand and up. The car is not worthless, of course, and can be sold for minimal loss on the actual machinery, but that's still money I don't have.

So, it seems I will be racing some type of sports car this year. A switch from formula cars to "sedans" (sedan in racing circles means a production-derived, closed-top car rather than simply a 4-door) puts new learning goals into priority. Where racing a formula car I would have focused on refining my car control, racing a sedan is a better place to work on my race craft. I want to end up racing sports cars and/or sports prototypes anyway, so it's not a crippling blow to my career. In many ways this could turn out to be for the better.

In any case, the most populated sedan class in the San Francisco region is Spec Miata. I've contacted a few teams who provide cars and it looks like I can rent a car in the sealed class for between $10,000 and $15,000 per season. Don't worry, I crunched the numbers properly this time. I already have a few candidates who seem like a good fit, but I will hold off on saying for sure what I am going to do this year until the dust settles. There are other classes to consider as well, but Spec Miata is the biggest, and big fields matter when you want to learn better race craft.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

(128) 2010 in review

2010 was a year of transition. Climbing the step from karts to cars is a pretty big one. Probably the biggest one. And I'm glad I took a year to set up and execute it, it's a huge adjustment. My transition is not totally complete. I still haven't taken part in a race in cars. But I got a lot accomplished this year.

I, obviously, got my first runs in a full-fledged open wheel race car. I also crashed my first car. I got my SCCA racing license. I entered my first shootout, at Skip Barber. I drove for a private car owner for the first time. I drove a race car in the rain for the first time. I had my first interview with Bob Varsha. I met a ton of well-known people in the racing world.

I am my biggest critic, and even under my own tremendous expectations of myself, I feel like I've done well, especially considering my relative lack of experience compared to most of the other drivers I met this year, at the Skip Barber shootout in particular.

My plans for 2011 are more or less laid out, now all I have to do is follow through and give it the effort needed to really develop myself into a winning race car driver.