Transition to Motorsport (8): Money, the Uncomfortable Truth

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The last time I wrote, at the start of the 2018 season, I made the point that you really need team support and tuition to get the most out of motor racing. Well, at the end of the 2018 season, I can say that’s still true – but what I didn’t realise was how much all this costs.

You can’t just take occasional support from a team, you have to commit to a season and basically, let them know how much you’ll be spending with them. If you’re not spending much, you won’t get the setup advice and general support you need for practice and competition..

For example, a race team will know the setups for your type of car at each circuit for the different conditions you’ll meet: dry, hot, cold, wet, etc. They won’t give you those settings unless you take the team along to the race track with you, as this is their intellectual property, and other drivers are paying more for it. That’s all fair enough, but it does leave the lower-budget racer with a problem. You’re either fully committed and spending money to take a least one mechanic to every track day, or you’re not with a team.

The only solution I can see to this is to find a race mechanic who will do the setup work with you between track days, and come to the occasional day with you. Or, you can learn the setup yourself and put in a lot of hard work to change the settings during a track day, but that really is hard work after you’ve trailered the car to track and still need to drive the lap times and do the spanner work, and then trailer the car home again, unpack, clean up and prepare for the next track day.

Some smaller teams will sell you just awning space and advice at race weekends, but I see that as an essential minimum if you’ve already arranged all the driving practice and learning about setups with your friendly race mechanic.

So what does it really cost?

For a season in Ginetta G40 Cup, I believe that most front-runners spend around £50-70k. That gets you storage and preparation of your car, delivery to track days with a mechanic and delivery and support through six race weekends. It also gets you in the region of 10 to 15 track days and tuition, plus consumable parts like tyres and brakes. With that investment in money and time, bearing in mind that most track days are midweek and require a day off work, you’ll get in the top ten at race weekends. If you get involved in crashes, which is highly likely, your repair bill may be another £5-10k on top.

Of course, that’s just Ginetta G40 Cup racing. There are cheaper championships to enter, which is the subject of my next post.