Life In The Fast Lane: Vintage Auto Racing

In Vintage Auto Racing, It Isn't Whether You Win or Lose--It's How You Run the Race

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Bob Knotts is a regular contributor to several national magazines and has recently published a series of children's books and completed his first novel.

Getting Behind the Wheel
If you want to get into any form of auto racing, you'd better be prepared to spend some serious money.
To start, you need to learn the fundamentals of handling any high-performance car at racing speeds. There are many ways to acquire these skills, including attending driver schools given by the vintage racing associations in your region. But the fastest and best plan is to sign up at one of the top racing schools in the United States.
The Skip Barber Racing School
29 Brook Street, Lakeville, Connecticut 06039 (800) 221-1131
The school offers three- ($2,250), five- ($3,395), or seven-day ($5,795) programs, teaching you many of the basic racing techniques, and in the case of the week-long program, lets you drive in a race.
Bob Bondurant School of High-Performance Driving
Firebird International Raceway, 20000 South Maricopa Road, Gate 3, Chandler, Arizona 85226; (800) 842-RACE
A four-day program ($2,695) is available at the school's specially designed track in Arizona.
Next, you'll need to learn which vintage groups compete in your area and which ones best fit your interests and bank account. Two helpful magazines on the sport are Victory Lane and Vintage Motorsport. Both magazines provide names, addresses and phone numbers of major vintage associations.
After you contact the organizations, attend one of their meetings or one of their races. Talk with the drivers and officials, look over the cars and decide if they meet your needs.
After you're ready to join a vintage racing association, you'll need to purchase personal safety equipment: a triple-layer fire-resistant suit for around $300 to $800, a full-face helmet (that meets current safety requirements) for $250 or so, plus odds and ends such as fire-resistant boots and gloves.
Then comes the biggest expense: the car. You can spend anywhere from several thousand dollars to several million dollars. Add on money for a trailer, replacement parts, entry fees, etc. It is possible to rent a vintage car--your local association or even fellow racers should be able to tell you about rental shops in the area.
The least expensive way to race historic cars is essentially to hitch a ride. After attending the needed driving schools, you can join your local vintage association, find a car owner who competes in endurance events that require two or more drivers--and volunteer to split some of the costs with him in return for racing time. This will get you into a car and onto a track with minimal expense.
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