04th April, 2020
Tough financial times? It doesn’t always mean putting the racing rig into long term car storage!
They say only two things are certain in life – death and taxes. But one more thing you can count on with certainty is a decline in motorsport activities when we experience an economic downturn. Arguably one of the most luxurious past-times, when participants feel a financial pinch, Motorsport is usually the first to go. Why? Well no matter where you sit on the motorsport pyramid, it’s just a bloody expensive sport.
As NASCAR legend Junior Johnson famously quotes ‘The best way to make a small fortune in motor racing is to start with a big one’. Not wrong, Junior.
For those fortunate enough to be able to maintain the habit through tougher times, budget restrictions during these times are rather likely. Wait what? Budget and motorsport in the same sentence? A mild oxymoron perhaps, however there are certainly techniques that can be implemented to make the sport much more affordable.
I’ve prepared this article based on my experiences running old Porsche Cup and Carrera Cup cars over the last 4 years, both locally and interstate. So please, take this as an article written by an Australian state-level club racer, for Australian state-level club racers.
(Photo credits thanks to Queensland Motorsport Photography legend Matthew Paul Photography)
Before the Race Weekend
Fuel – Fill Up Cheap
Significant cost savings can be made with a little bit of research prior to filling up for the weekend.
If you are fortunate enough to have a car that can run on regular pump fuel, you have the glorious benefit of being able to fill up your race car straight from the Bowser. This is obviously handy, but in most cases means running top shelf 98 octane, which is also the most expensive on offer. What will certainly help to mitigate this is to do your research and fill up where most cost effective as possible. I find Petrol Stations located close to race tracks tend to inflate their prices, and you forget about ever using the hugely over-priced on-site petrol available at the circuit. Our advice? Download the Fuel Map Australia app and do your due diligence – the cost savings across both your race car and tow vehicle will be significant!
Fuel Map App – It’s free, and will save you big bucks
Bonus Tip: If fuel prices are cheap, take advantage and stock up on your fuel with jerry cans. Just be sure that the containers are properly sealed and that the fuel is used within 3 months of purchase.
What's the best brand of pump fuel for race cars you ask? I can't answer this with any scientific backing, however the 'word on the street' is that BP Ultimate 98 is considered the best quality, followed by (in no particular order) Shell V-Power and Caltex Vortex. It's wise to steer clear from seemingly 'dodgy' service stations, as some are known to water down fuel, or dilute 98 with lower-quality petrol.
Up-Skill on DIY Servicing & Data Acquisition
Con your computer nerd mate into running your data for you!
This one is simple – the more you can do yourself, the less money you’ll spend on labour. This applies to both car preparation and running the car at test days and race weekends. But just be careful with this one – be absolutely sure you know what you’re doing, and if in doubt, always seek professional advice/help. You don’t want a failure on-track due to something you have done incorrectly!
Opt for AASA or RACERS Sanctioned Events
Typically speaking, events endorsed by AASA and RACERS tend to run at much more of a budget than Motorsport Australia (nee CAMS) events. They are catered more for grass-roots/state level motorsport, and the entry fee’s are usually priced to match. I personally find these two sanctioning bodies to be far more customer focussed, and not as stringent and political as CAMS-orientated personnel.
Design your own Decals & Signs
I find myself constantly needing to be updating numbers, names and sponsor decals for the race car. I tend to do all the design work myself on Adobe Illustrator, which is a fairly easy design program to use. Adobe Photoshop and Indesign will also do the job nicely. There is a small yearly subscription cost (I pay $336 per year for a business package) to these programs however it that is offset very quickly with not having to pay Graphic Designer every-time I want to create a new sticker for the car (and I also get lots of further use out of it for my business).
NB: If you are looking for a reliable and reasonably priced print shop in Brisbane, speak to the guys at Photoline in Coopers Plains. They have been our go-to printer for 3 years and their customer service is top notch.
On the Race Weekend
Why pay for a hotel room when you can roll out a swag under the stars? If you already have a collection of camping gear then it would make sense to utilise it. Got an enclosed car trailer? Then you’ve got a