By: Chip Bond We hope to see you at all the track events this year, but before you embark upon a full season of racing, we thought this little article by Chip Bond, lifted from an SCCA newsletter would help you prepare - ed.
Though I have yet to complete my first race, I've certainly learned a lot about the preliminaries. If you also aspire to checkered flag fame, you may have some interest in these recommendations.
- Get permission from your spouse
It's important that your spouse concurs with your decision. The best initial approach is to "make a deal". Something like "Honey, tell you what, after we finish remodeling the kitchen I'd like to take a couple weekends off to go racing. OK?" When you meet with resistance, a little sincere begging may do the trick. If you maintain a regular schedule of whining and moaning you will eventually wear here down to the point where she confides that her primary concern is for your safety. Congratulations! Success! You assure here that you will only purchase and race with the best and most current safety gear available. Immediately show your sincerity by pulling out all your racing catalogs so you can jointly make decisions about the safest camshafts, slicks, headers, and gear ratios.
- Get a second mortgage
Since no mortal can afford to build a race car and run it for a season, you will need to finance your own race effort. Your best bet is to use the equity in your home. Don't waste time trying to find a sponsor. Any business that could afford to sponsor a car is savvy enough to realize what a huge waste of money it is.
Prepare a budget to build the car and run it for the season, double it, then add 25%. That should be enought o get you to your first race. Go to the bank and get your second mortgage. Don't forget to add in a couple hundred to paint the kitchen and replace the linoleum. After all, a promise is a promise.
- Get a tolerant boss
Since every waking moment will be consumed by preparing yourself and your car for racing, you need an understanding boss. You may need to change jobs to find the right one. If you do, look for the following qualities in your new employer.
- Your new boss likes you, he enjoys racing, and supports your dreams.
- He's amenable to let you work flexible hours and take every Friday and Monday of a race weekend off.
- He's willing to put in long hours during the week so you can work on your car.
- He takes messages for you from parts suppliers when you are on the other line ordering parts.
Don't be misled by thinking that an ideal boss would be a race himself. If so, you can bet that he hired you to cover him so he could race. This would be an impossible hurdle for your effort.
Find a friend that races
Regardless of the amount of money you were able to obtain from the bank, it will not be enough to get all of the other items you need to set-up your car. You will need a racing friend that can load you scales, bumpsteer gauges, welders, alignment tools, etc. Remember this relationship must be a two way street. You need to reciprocate to the best of your ability. Praise his car and his abilities. Sweep his shop and scrub down his trailer. If he races in the same class as you do, don't take his advice. Friendship does have its limits.
Get help around the house
You will no longer have the time to attend to household chores. Early in the season you will need to hire individuals to do things like take care of the lawn, paint the house trim and care for your pets. Now is also the time to look into a house-cleaning service. The probability that your spouse will move in with her mother increases significantly by mid-season. At that point in your campaign you will be much too busy to do things like check references and discuss fees. Be prepared. Remember that a successful race effort starts with planning.
Get a lawyer
A good lawyer will become indispensable. Initially he will provide counsel concerning your arrangements with your home equity lender. Later you will need his assistance in comprehending the rules and regulations of your racing organizations and the specifications of your class and car. Finally, toward the end of the season, he will prepare the separation papers.
Recruit your crew
Finding people to crew for you is easy. Getting them to come back for the second time is not. For this reason, try not to enlist your friends or family. The strain on the relationship will be too much.
Look instead for people like your neighbor's teenage son. He's the one with the lime green Monte Carlo with a blacked-out hood and side exhausts. Though he may have little experience, you can be sure he will thrive on the diet of peanut butter sandwiches provided by you during the weekend. He will also think that sleeping in a wet tent is "cool". He will admire you. He will commiserate with you when your car breaks. He will be overjoyed to pick gravel from your slicks and change the hot oil between sessions. He will proudly carry your gas jugs back from the pumps.
Never, never allow crew to drive their own vehicle to the track. If you make this mistake be prepared to find a note after one of your sessions like..."Called my wife while you were out. The cat had fourteen kittens. Have to go. Good luck with the race. See you."
After the season is over you can rededicate yourself to patching up your marriage, catching up at work and paying down your credit line.
I hope all the above will be as much help to you as it was to me. Good luck.