How expensive is racing?

Back to back racing weekends? An endurance race at Laguna Seca with Lucky Dog followed by a sprint race at Thunderhill with the SCCA… Being able to race on world-class racetracks is not something I take for granted. I’m living a dream and I fully recognize it. It saddens me that not everyone has the chance to do these things. Auto racing is an expensive hobby. But exactly how expensive is it? Let’s investigate with my B-Spec Yaris as an example of a really cheap car to build and run.

Initial Build

The initial build cost me about $7000. I saved a lot of money getting the cage built by students at an Evil Genius Racing fabrication workshop. Sometimes I think $7k for a hobby is too much. But it’s also a completely legal street car that gets 45 mpg on the highway. So it does have some utility. Note that none of the costs below figure in my time. I spent and continue to spend many weekends working on the car.

  • 2007 Toyota Yaris $3040 (used)
  • Cage fabrication $1080
  • Fire system $370
  • Kill switch $40
  • Interior net $90
  • Window net & mount $90
  • Driver seat $100 (used) & bracket $100
  • Harness $140
  • Seat brace $200
  • Roll bar padding $60
  • Steering wheel quick release $130 + adapter $70 + wheel $30
  • Convex mirror $20
  • Front tow hook $12
  • Crash bolts $20 (for alignment)
  • Hood pins $10
  • Cold box $50 (cold therapy unit used from ebay)
  • Exhaust pipe fabrication $20
  • Wheels $400
  • Cold air intake $300
  • TRD suspension $520
  • Fuel testing port $80
  • Numbers $50

Operating Costs

In addition to the initial build, there’s the stuff that costs money on a regular basis. This includes alignment, motor oil, filter, diff oil, brake pads, brake rotors, brake fluid, and gasoline. Less regular, but still expected, are things like the engine, transmission, clutch, and body work. All of this amounts to about $65/hr. But we haven’t gotten to the big ticket items: event fees and tires. Endurance race fees are roughly $100/hr and 200 treadwear tires are about $25/hr ($500 per set and they last 20 hours). Sprint race event fees are about $300/hr and tire costs are $200/hr ($800 per set and they last 4 hours).

Endurance racing: $190 / hour

Sprint racing: $565 / hour

Other expenses

The build and operating costs do not include my personal safety equipment, cameras, radios, or telemetry. That stuff adds another $2500 or so. Those items are good for 10 years and can be carried from car to car. In addition, there are expenses for transportation, room, and board. I camp at the track and subsist on sandwiches, so those expenses are pretty low.

Arrive-n-drive fee

I haven’t loaned my car out for sprint races, but if I did, it would be something like $1200 per weekend and more if they wanted trackside support. I charge people $200/hour to drive my car in endurance races. Given the $190/hour plus other expenses, I’m not making any money at this rate. Here’s some of the races on the 2018 schedule I’m considering. I plan to do 5-6 events. Drop me an email if you’re interested. I always enjoy driving with new teammates.

  • January 13-14 Laguna Seca, Lucky Dog
  • February 16-18 Sonoma Raceway, ChumpCar
  • March TBA Buttonwillow (a 24 hour race!), Lucky Dog
  • May 19-20 Thunderhill 5 mile, Lemons
  • June 2-3 Pacific Raceways, Lucky Dog
  • July 7-8 Portland International, Lucky Dog
  • July 13-14 Laguna Seca, Lucky Dog
  • July 29-30 The Ridge, Lemons
  • September 15-16 Oregon Raceway, Lucky Dog
  • September 29-30 Buttonwillow, Lemons
  • October 27-28 Portland International, Lucky Dog
  • November 17-18 Autoclub Speedway, ChumpCar
  • December 8-9 Thunderhill 5 mile, Lucky Dog

The only race I’m actually signed up for at this time is a Lemons event at Thunderhill. We conceived of a funny theme in the last race and now we need to do it. Since the Yaris has a complete sound system, the plan is for drivers to listen to an audio book on tape during their stint and then quickly summarize it between driver changes. At the end, we’ll have a video of racers giving a synopsis of a novel. I’m calling this the Auto Book Club.



3 thoughts on “How expensive is racing?

  1. If you haven’t been to ORP you simply must make room on your schedule.
    Lucky Dog typically runs clockwise on Saturday and it’s one of the most challenging tracks you’ll drive.
    Sunday is counter clockwise and it’s even more difficult.
    The Flying Lumberjacks never miss a race at ORP..
    Be sure to bring everything you need because that track is in the middle of nowhere.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s