Race More for Less: Tips from the Experts to Help You Save Money in Racing
Recently, a TV station in Birmingham, Alabama, did a story on Red Farmer, the NASCAR® legend and member of the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame®. In the video, he’s shaving tires, and it would be easy to think, “Red Farmer can pay someone to do that for him.” Yet, he doesn’t. Racing, even for one of the greats, still costs money, and finding ways to save a buck here and there allows you to spend it on other things.
Here at Quicksilver, we understand how financial hurdles can affect your opportunities to enjoy the sport you love. That’s why we pride ourselves on offering great value in our engines and long life with our Quicksilver oils and filters. By borrowing some of the technology and expertise that went into building our premium marine engines, which are capable of standing up to years of operating in harsh conditions on the water, our team built a series of Quicksilver Circle Track Engines that are designed to run multiple seasons without rebuilds. This saves circle track drivers time and money and keeps them focused more on the track and less on the garage.
Those engines are supported by Quicksilver Performance Racing Oil, a 25W-40 synthetic blend that protects internal engine parts both on and off the track. Performance Racing Oil was formulated with a heavy dose of zinc additives – no longer included in many automotive oils – to help protect pushrods or flat tappet lifters and further prevent the need for a rebuild. Its excellent high-temperature properties and ability to resist thermal breakdown keep hard-working race engines running at their peak.
When choosing an engine, affordability and durability lead to more laps around the track and fewer dollars spent. But there are other ways you can trim your costs no matter the type of racing you enjoy. To learn more, we asked three veteran drivers for tips on how they make racing more affordable.
Coty Tanquary is a dirt late model racer in the Carolinas.
- Buy used parts. “There are a bunch of parts on my car that come secondhand,” said Tanquary. “That’s one of the main things I do to cut my costs. I know big teams, like Clint Bowyer’s dirt late model team, have year-end sales so they can buy all-new equipment for next season. I go buy used wheels for like $100 each versus $400 brand-new. Spare transmissions for $800 versus $2,400 brand-new. Tires that have only seen a few practice laps for $25 each versus $150 each new.”
- Don’t replace, repair. “People throw out bumpers, door bars and panel braces because they’re bent. I will straighten them out, repair them and paint them, and they are good as new at very little cost. I’m a fabricator by trade, so the biggest thing I do is trade out my labor for parts and labor elsewhere. Makes for some long days, but it’s worth it.”
“It was a struggle, but worth it,” said Nashville’s Ricky Haynes, a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series champion. “I raced three seasons then had to step away because of money. Scraped more together and raced two more years, then ran out of cash.”
Haynes’ story is common in the racing world, but his desire to compete kept him going for the better part of two decades. In that time, he learned some tricks to shave costs.
- Run used, but decent, equipment. “You don’t need brand-new cars and the latest parts,” Haynes said. “Use that money to buy more track time.” Practice and lapping sessions go a long way toward making you faster on race day.”
- Learn to self-promote. “I put the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital® charitable program together. Then I got 98 WSIX, the No. 1 country radio station in Nashville, to give me free promotional airtime. I ran their number and logo (on the car), and I was able to sell the airtime to sponsors. I rarely spent any of my own money after that.”
Tim Craver, from Welcome, North Carolina, is an open wheel midget and stock car racer.
- Learn the skills you pay for. Time spent shadowing a mentor pays you back. “From chassis setups to mounting tires, if you can do it yourself, you’re saving money,” said Craver. “And when you get good at it, other racers will pay you to do theirs.”
- Keep used parts for spares. “A well-maintained used part can easily be in your spares box for a quick trackside repair or to loan to another competitor who’s in trouble.”
- Budget honestly. “Put the majority of your budget into the car, not the swag. Trailers and fancy toolboxes look great at the track, but don’t make you faster. Keep it simple.”
- Stay Humble. “Be at peace that there will always be someone with more speed, more money and more ability than you.” This doesn’t necessarily save you money, but it will help you stay focused on what you spend.
Never Skimp on Safety Equipment
Saving money is important for most racers, but there’s one area where you should never skimp: safety. You don’t need to spend a fortune to stay safe, but you should be sure you’re properly equipped.
“There are still tracks and series that don’t require full safety equipment, but that’s no excuse to not protect yourself,” said Ron Zappendorf, CEO of Discovery Parts in Dawsonville, Georgia, and an on-track safety expert. “From impacts to fires, your safety equipment can literally save your life, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Sure, you can spend $2,000 on a helmet, but the Snell Memorial Foundation® independently tests helmets, and helmets with their certification start at just a couple hundred dollars. They may not have the bells and whistles, but they protect you correctly in a crash. Same goes with belts, fire suits, and head and neck systems. If you’re not sure what will work best for you, simply pick up the phone and call.”
The point is, you should save money where you can, and invest where you need to. You don’t need the toterhome with a matching stacker trailer. You don’t have to have a set of stickers for every session. Racing is an expensive hobby and we’re all hooked, but there are ways to keep that budget in check.
Click here to learn more about Quicksilver Circle Track Engines, including the 350hp 357 CT and the 375hp 383 CT.
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