Racing is Expen$ive! (Got Used?)

Posted: January 27, 2012 in 300ZX Build, Previous Builds
Tags: , ,

Correction… road racing is expensive! I’m not just talking expenses to build a car, or even the necessary safety equipment (which is a requirement in all automotive racing), but rather the sheer dollars it takes just to get your car on a track, let alone be competitive.

But I admit, with a background in drag racing, I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to the cost of participating in racing. As drag racers know, it can be as simple as a helmet and $35 bucks on any given night to get your car on the drag strip for a local test-n-tune! Want to step it up a notch? A pair of $300 drag radials or slicks goes a long way for improving times, and can last you many passes down the ¼ mile. When you’re ready to step up to sanctioned drag events… Hell, you don’t even have to pick a class! Bracket racing can give racers a chance to be competitive and win (cash/prizes) at any event/level.



The first Mustang I raced competitively, way back in 1998.





Stock 5.0 motor with a Vortech Supercharger, Tremec (3550) 5 speed, and a few bolt-ons. Good for consistent low 12’s.



The same car, many $$$ later. Built motor with 511 horsepower at the wheels. Good for Mid 10’s all day. (Ah, to be young and flush with disposable income again!) The supercharger whined so loud (and the huge cam shook the car so violently), old ladies would roll down their windows at traffic lights to tell me something was wrong with my car!

But road racing is different. Entry fees for NASA High Performance Driving Events (HDPE) and SCCA Performance Driving Events (PDX) start at the $200 to $300 range (not including insurance and other fees), and that’s just to get you seat time on the track.

Tires can run you $1000 or more, and depending on your driving skill/number of laps, can end up lasting less than one track event. And when you’re ready to step up to serious head to head racing – the rules and regulations for each class are so massive, in my opinion, you need a law degree to figure them out. (More on this in future posts.)

Sure, there are some racing classes that specify cars be worth $500 or less (not including safety equipment), such as the 24 hours of lemons, but the entry fees/expenses are still costly, and frankly, my car may look like it’s worth $500 bucks right now, but it won’t fit into that class.

If only I was a millionaire with an unlimited budget for this build, but sadly I’m not (sigh). So what’s an aspiring race driver to do? Build the Z as cost effectively as I can – which means used parts, and lots of them. (Sponsors are critical too, but that’s the topic of another post.)

I’ve been scouring places like Z forums, craigslist, and eBay (although the latter is mostly filled with knock off Chinese junk these days), looking for the best “used” parts my money can buy. And I’ve amassed a collection of parts at 30 to 50% off their retail value.

I recently answered an ad on for a Z being parted out. The ad was sans specific, and mostly listed basic facts about the car. But it was close (only 2 hours away). Being a naturally aspirated 2+2, I wasn’t expecting to find much. I went down looking to grab a fender and good driver’s side headlight. To my surprise, I found this!

The car had a J-Spec bumper, Ground Control Coilovers, Stillen (Gen 2) Adjustable UCA’s, POP Air Filter, beautifully recovered manual seats (to save weight over my heavy power seat), and various other odds and ends I needed to repair my Z. Score!

To top it all off, the Z’s owner couldn’t have been a nicer guy. The car was his baby, but after the motor expired to that great big junkyard in the sky, the expense of fixing vs. cars value made it not worth repairing. I stripped the car clean.


I know cars are inanimate objects, but we can grow quite attached regardless of the fact. So in a weird way I felt bad, almost like a vulture picking apart a carcass, for that very reason. He just wanted the parts from his baby to go to a good home, and I agreed they would. I still email him with updates of the car’s progress.



Look out for future updates as I learn to weld, build the Z, introduce sponsors, and make the documentary! Stay tuned.


  1. eli says:

    Hey man, TTkickedin from Nico. I just wanted to say that this blog rocks man. The story behind it, the view you have, all are very down to earth. I dont know if id even have the will to keep pushing the envelope after an amputation. anything is possible for sure. i really hope the z turns out well. cheers!

  2. Thank you for the kind words!

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