So, all your life you've dreamed of being a racecar driver, and now you
think it's time to get behind the wheel. But where do you start? Well,
unless your name is Earnhardt, Unser, or Andretti, you're going to need
to roll up your sleeves, do your homework as well as some serious
planning before you'll be ready to take on Daytona, Indy, or the World Rally Championship.
If you're really serious about driving racecars though (as a hobby or
even if you have dreams of driving professionally), here are a few tips
to get your career moving:
1. Define what type of racing you wish to pursue.....Do you want to drive dirt track, sports cars, stockcars, drag racing, karts, ralley, off-road, or ? Not sure of the answer? Then it might be time to do a bit more thinking….
2. Locate an organization in your area that is currently hosting racing or performance
driving events. There are a number of national organizations that serve
as sanctioning bodies for racing events, and many of them have
extensive websites that provide racers (and potential racers) with a
wealth of information. Here are a few of the leading organizations:
National Auto Sport Association (NASA) : www.nasaproracing.com
Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) : www.scca.com
National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) : www.nhra.com
National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) : www.nascar.com
SCORE-International Off-Road Racing (SCORE) : www.score-international.com
Championship Off Road Racing (CORR) : www.corracing.com
World Karting Association (WKA) : www.worldkarting.com
World Rally Racing (WRC) : www.rally-live.com
3. Contact that organization or just go to a local the track/venue and start meeting folks and asking questions about how you can become involved. What talents could you bring to a team? Do you have mechanical skills, or are you a great organizer or communicator? Des the track have a volunteer program? Work on building relationships, and offer to become involved in whatever way. Ask around and find out what it takes to secure your racing license. Most tracks have various levels of racing available, and you should become very knowledgeable about the types of car, support crew, racing expenses, etc. for each class before investing in a car/team.
4. Define your budget...How much can you afford to spend to get in a car and give this a go? It's nice to think that you'll have sponsorship right from the start (and if you're the 1 in a million who has deep pocket friends or close contacts with business owners, that might happen), but for 999/1000 racers, we find a way to buy and support our own racing effort to start. The good news is you might be surprised at how inexpensive it is to get started.
funding your racing...
5. Sponsorship: Funding your racing effort will be among the most difficult tasks you undertake (an is the single biggest reason good drivers drop out of race series). With no track experience, businesses will have a hard time recognizing the "value" in funding your effort. You need to get pretty tough skinned about this, and remember that these are business decisions for companies. While there are few charitable businesses out there and you could be lucky enough to find them, but unless they are family/friends who will just give money to an unproven driver, you're gonna have to really stand out in the crowd. You'll also have to think about the market access you bring to your sponsors. Who are their audience? Does the local track (or the one you select) have TV or press coverage on a regular basis?
6. Competition: All of the women I've met on this site (and many men I know from the track) started their racing career with a dream….and that's good....But dreaming about racing isn't going to get you the seat time or skills you'll need to become a competitive driver in market-based world. You need to take action; and there are several avenues, which you can pursue to get this done. Locate a performance driving school in your area (Bondurant, Skip Barber, etc.), connect with the National Auto sport Association (NASA) and get involved with their HPDE program, contact the local region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), ask officials or competitors at your local track how they became involved….You'll be surprised how much information you'll be given.
7. Be friendly, humble, determined and passionate about your racing career. Focus and don't give up. If this is what you really want, it can happen, but it will only be through your hard work and determination. So get out there and take action to follow you dream!
Next Month: Buying Your First Racecar
by Karen Salvaggio