There are several types of “road racing” available here in the Phoenix area. First let’s define road racing. First, it is NOT done on the city streets!!! It IS done on pavement.
Lets begin with autocross, where you can take your street or prepared cars and run through a fixed course at low speed and race against a clock. The cost is very minimal and family friendly. This event puts a premium on car control and is an excellent way to start learning what you and your car can really do. It stretches the limits of the car and the abilities of the driver in a very controlled setting. This is usually done in a large parking lot somewhere and is accessible to anyone who would like to try it.
Next would be time trials where street cars and prepared cars are on an actual road course either one at a time for a given number of laps or in small groups spread out around the track so each driver can get his/her best time unimpeded by the other drivers.
Next is PDX or Performance Driving Experience. This involves street or prepared cars on track together but under controlled conditions. For the first session or two the drivers may have an instructor with them to help acquaint them with the track and show the drivers what the best line is and where to brake for maximum effect. Once the instructor thinks the driver is ready they are sent out solo and can lap as many times as they wish during their session until the checkered flag is shown. Then they come into a fixed area and the instructors critique the drivers session and give pointers on how to improve the next session. There are usually run in conjunction with a competition race weekend and the PDX cars have their own sessions within the race schedule so they can see how more accomplished drivers race too.
Then there is club road racing where competitors are grouped by performance potential or type of vehicle and race door to door for a given number of laps. This type includes production cars that have been modified and purpose built full tube chassis race cars and open wheel cars (formula cars) or sports racing cars. Classes are available for everything from Showroom Stock where all that can be done to the car is add safety equipment to fully prepared tube chassis ground pounding GT cars which are the fastest classes on the production side. If you like open wheel cars there are different levels from Formula Vee which utilizes stock VW front and rear suspension components and stock 1200 cc engines and transmissions to Formula Atlantic which is a stepping stone to professional open wheel racing usually Indy cars (IRL) or Formula One (F1).
Lastly there is the professional level where the fastest types and best prepared cars are raced by teams from all over the country and in some cases the world such as Formula One, American Lemans, Grand AM or World Challenge.
In the Phoenix area all of these events except Formula One are done almost every weekend by several different organizations. If you belong to a car club check with your monthly news letter to find out where events are happening and go see what they do.
Three organizations which do a lot of road racing are the Arizona Region of the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America), NASA (National Autosports Association) and PRO Professional Autosports. They all have local websites. They are: http://www.azscca.com , http://www.nasaproracing.com and http://www.proautosports.com
These clubs all have similar programs and run on our local tracks, FIR (Firebird International Raceway and PIR (Phoenix International Raceway) several weekends throughout the year.
Saturday April 3, 2010 the SCCA will have it’s last race of the spring season at FIR. It will be a full day of racing starting about 8AM until 4PM. Come on out if you can. I think you will be surprised at the racing and the vehicles.
PRO has their next event at FIR on May 1-2, 2010.
Next time we will look at drag racing and the different levels of competition.
For more information or to see a topic covered, e-mail Gary at: email@example.com .