“The best way to make a small fortune in racing is to start with a big one.”
You don’t get into auto racing to make money. If you try, you quickly learn that it doesn’t really work that way. That said, with some careful spending, strategy, and restraint it’s more than possible to have a great time in a car without living out of your car. The most important thing is that YOU can drive.
If you asked me 15 or 20 years ago, I would have told you I wish I was born early enough to watch greats like Dan Gurney and Sam Posey tearing up Lime Rock Park in 1970. I really wanted to be a spectator for that classic era of roaring v8’s.
It’s a good thing we don’t always get what we wish for.
Fast forward to today: I’m in my mid 30’s, I’ve been driving for around 20 years and have been participating in some form of motorsports for the past 15. My experience isn’t extraordinary. I’m not some outstanding driver or amazingly smart person, and I’m certainly no “Pro”. I’ve been on the right end of some really good luck, met some incredible people, worked hard, and played to my strengths to get to what I think is the best possible place in the motorsports world. My goals have continued to grow and I’ve gotten to a point that I wouldn’t have been able to imagine 10 years ago. All this I’ve been able to do while building and maintaining a career, family, and especially: without spending every penny I’ve ever earned.
Most importantly, I’m incredibly happy with where I am. Sure I have plenty of growth planned for both my driving and my equipment. But right now I’m having an amazing time, I have an incredible group of very close friends, and I get to race on the legendary race tracks that just a few years ago I wouldn’t have imagined was possible.
I can tell you with a good degree of certainty that Amateur Club Racing is the most fun you can have in a car. Professional Racing, with it’s “fame” and (minimal) paychecks, also brings incredible pressure and insecurity. A professional racer needs to be 100% on their game, on and off the track, 24/7. One small slip up or piece of bad luck and their entire career can end. In Amateur Club Racing, we’re all here for one reason, to have fun.
Another thing that is clear: We are in a golden era of club motorsports. There are so many clubs operating at so many great tracks across the country. The internet has allowed our hobby to explode. Information is EASY to find, like where to find track days (HPDEJunkie is my favorite source for that), how to prep your car, and what to expect at your first day. Believe it or not, new tracks are being built and new clubs are popping up everywhere. Take advantage of it now, because who knows how long this will all last.
Why is my angle all about doing this on the cheap?
We used to joke that my wife and I are one of those “opposites attract” couples. We met in college while I was studying to become an art teacher and she an accountant. I’m an extrovert, she’s an introvert. I spend money, she saves it. My car hobby is a “normal” one, but hers is less mainstream. She spends her time making spreadsheets, investing, and researching retirement plans.
With her help, guidance, and encouragement I’ve been able to do countless track days all while we were paying off student loans, buying a home, and growing our family.