So you want to go racing? To make the jump from dreaming about being a race car driver to actually being a race car driver isn’t as far of a leap as you may think. Sure, you need a Snell certified helmet and a few extra bucks to spend on tires, but you don’t actually need a race car, a trailer, or even a truck to pull that race car on the trailer you don’t have. The simplest way to jump into racing is by renting a seat on an endurance racing team in a series like Lucky Dog Racing or the 24 Hours of LeMons.
If you have a group of friends who are like-minded gearheads, then get on Craiglist and find that diamond in the rough $500 BMW E30 that has a few extra go fast goodies already installed. If you don’t have a group of friends who are into cars (or you don’t have any friends at all) you are still in luck with LetsGo.Racing, a service that connects different racing teams with drivers who are looking for some seat time.
“The recent explosion of grassroots endurance racing series, track day organizations, and sports car clubs, means that there are more ways and places to go racing than ever,” Kenny Brown, Founder of LetsGo.Racing said. “Our goal is to bring these racing opportunities to the masses because racing is better when you’ve got full team rosters and race entry lists.”
If you already have a $500 hot rod sitting in your side-yard with the interior stripped out, then you can start your own team and rent out the seat through LetGo.Racing to help pay for the build of your car. This team concept is exactly how my racing team grew. We had an Acura Integra, and not enough money to build it. We decided to go to a 24 Hour of LeMons race, so we organized a team that could pool money together to build the car and race it. How did that go? We won our first race together.
Our team wasn’t comprised of a bunch of gearheads or a bunch of ace drivers. We were comprised of guys who had a passion for winning and understood strategy. In fact, some of the guys on our team didn’t even own tools. But, it worked out using our differences. If I was to build a dream team for a startup endurance racing effort, I would compile a mixture of different personalities on the team. Here is how I would put the team together:
1. The Fabricator: If you have a guy who can weld, you are WAY ahead of the curve in building your team. This person builds roll cages, fixes exhausts, and overall solves problems with metal (hint: cars are made with metal, so this guy is important).
2. The Logistics Man: You need someone on the team who can organize things, find parts, get supplies, move gear, feed the crew, and score lodging. This person keeps things working and on time.
3. The Mechanic: You need somebody on the team who can turn a wrench. A guy who understands how cars work, how systems work, and he owns a lot of tools. He preps the car and fixes things.
4. Team Captain: This person is the dreamer, the one who registers for the race, collects money, makes tough decisions, understands the rules. It helps if the team captain has a big garage to store all this racing stuff.
5. The Stig: This person is the team driving coach, someone who has been racing for a long time and understands the dynamics on-track that help keep the rest of the team out of trouble. He is also usually the team driver at the end of the race to bring it home.
6. The Money Man: This guy has piles of cash that he doesn’t mind spending on racing. He doesn’t particularly want to spend his evenings underneath a rusty car that leaks oil, so he doesn’t mind paying extra to the guys like The Mechanic and The Fabricator so they can pay less and offset their team entry with sweat equity.
Those six people, if they can work together, will win races.
Like any dream team, this can succeed or fail depending on the individual players involved. If everybody kicks in a ton of effort and appreciates the effort of his or her peers, then things will work as planned. If one person isn’t carrying their weight, people get bitter, they feel as if they have put in too much while others didn’t contribute enough, and then trouble is on the horizon. Especially in motorsports, where trouble is always waiting for you in the next corner.
I’m guilty of completely losing my cool at the track with my team. Big mistake. I was angry because the car wasn’t prepared the way I would have liked it (but, I wasn’t there to prep it). I was upset that certain spare parts weren’t brought with us to the track (but, I didn’t pack those parts). I was also frustrated that we were losing ground at night because our lights weren’t adequate (but, I didn’t install better lights).
I found myself in the “these guys aren’t doing enough to help us win” mode. Unbeknownst to me, the team felt as if I hadn’t been involved enough in the preparation for the race. I had just flown in at the last second to drive (and bitch about how the crew had prepped the car). Did we win that race? Oh, no. Hell no. We darn near never raced together again.
After our little disaster during a failed 24-hour effort, the team and I had a team meeting at a bar and hashed out our differences and our goals. What did we want? What could we afford to do both in time and money? We figured out where we went wrong and how we could improve for the future. We decided not to disband the team. Instead, we would make it bigger and go harder. We used Google.docs and extensive checklists to help each team member stay on track with each different task before a race. It worked great and it’s a free logistical system my team still uses today.
We kept on racing, kept on getting better, and kept on adding to the team. This was all done by word of mouth — unfortunately for my team, this was before LetsGo.Racing was invented by Kenny Brown. We lost a couple of members. That happens with teams, but we kept on digging, and in the end, picked up a few more First-place finishes. Those victories were the absolute sweetest because we had worked so hard to earn them.
Our dream team has all of the components I described above. We had guys who could drive, guys who couldn’t, guys who had money, and guys who didn’t. We chose to focus on each member’s assets and hone their skillsets to our advantage. Over time, we all became a little cross-trained. We each became better mechanics, better drivers, better at meeting deadlines or organizing. We made each other better, and for that, we moved on to other more prevalent series and became national champions.
So, if you want to be part of the race car driving dream, then get your own dream team together. If you don’t know guys who are mechanics or fabricators, or you don’t know guys with disposable incomes, then go to LetGo.Racing and connect the dots.
More on LetsGo.Racing here from their press release: In addition to providing valuable tools to connect race car owners and drivers, LetsGo.Racing aims to support the racing community through financial and promotional support of grassroots motorsports organizations. In August, the company created a fundraiser program for sports car clubs to support their efforts to host fun and competitive racing events in their local communities. When a club member’s co-drive or seat time listing is booked, LetsGo.Racing will give the respective club a 2.5% commission that can be used for anything the club needs. Member clubs will also receive promotional materials to raise awareness for the program, and their events will be broadcast to the LetsGo.Racing community to increase their own reach. Any interested club needs only to apply for the program on the LetsGo.Racing website.