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Cha-Ching!

Run whatcha brung. For newbs, this is one of the first essential messages we try to impart. Don’t go out and spend hundreds (certainly not thousands!!) on brakes, wheels, tires, suspension. Just make sure your car will pass a tech inspection, and you can get out on track, learn a ton, leave with a smile. You’ll probably start to tweak things here and there as you get more involved… you may not even notice the slow leak out of your wallet.

In the past I’ve simply held onto receipts and added it up at the end of the year. You know, just to see how much all this fun was costing. The past couple of years I’ve seen the numbers ratchet up. This year I thought it prudent to make sure I don’t have to lunch on ramen noodles during the week in order to race on the weekends. So for the first time, I put together a budget. Was it ever an enlightening exercise.

I started with what I thought was the most basic thing: entry fees. To race with NASA Rocky Mountain, it’s about $300 a weekend. From there, the list of questions seemed never-ending. How many weekends are on the NASA schedule? Nine. Five are local, four are out of state. Hmm. How far away are the out of state events? Where will we sleep? How many miles per gallon do we get when towing the car? How much should I assume diesel will be per gallon? Speaking of fuel, how much race gas do I need for each weekend? (I mix race gas with 91 octane due to a lean spot we found when the car was dyno’d.) How much will *that* be per gallon?

Holy crap {head-smack}. What about the RACECAR?!?? I’ll need tires. Should I go Hoosier? How long would they last? They’ll need to be mounted and balanced, maybe even flipped on the rim to get maximum wear. I’ll need to change the oil between events and need at least one quart more oil than before is needed now because of the oil cooler. Hmm, what about that front splitter that’s been fiberglassed & ducktaped together (after an unfortunate loading accident)? I should get a spare for that (in the event I happen to go on a farming expedition). Canards would just be a super cool aero addition. Carbon Fiber!!

Yep. That spiraled out of  control pretty quickly. That was just for NASA; I’m also racing with BMW this year. So I put everything on the calendar, added it all up and just see what the total ended up being. It was shocking. Down-payment-on-a-house-obscene. I admit I took a few deep breaths, saved and closed the file. There must be an error in my formula somewhere that would reveal itself next time I was brave enough to look at again. Maybe? Nope.

Well, sh*t.

I don’t have the luxury of being somehow independently wealthy. Still, I feel very fortunate to have a day job that pays the bills and lets me play – within reason. So the chopping began. About half of the out-of-state trips were crossed off. Not only does it cost a bunch to get there and back, I want to save my vacation time for something really good and inline with my goals. Some very hard decisions had to be made.

In the end, I have what I think is an awesome schedule. Five local events, three we’re towing to. Two new tracks (Miller and Sonoma). Good times just waiting to be had!

  • April 6-7, Pike’s Peak International Speedway with NASA Rocky Mountain
  • May 4-5, Pueblo Motorsports Park with NASA Rocky Mountain
  • May 25-26, High Plains Raceway with BMW Club Racing
  • June 21-23, Miller Motorsports Park with NASA Utah
  • July 13-14, High Plains Raceway with NASA Rocky Mountain
  • September 28-29, Sonoma Raceway (aka Infineon or Sears Point) with NASA Northern Region and BMW Club Racing
  • October 5-6, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with BMW Club Racing
  • October 26-27, High Plains Raceway with NASA Rocky Mountain

If one of us hits the winning numbers in PowerBall, I may even see about heading to Hastings in August with NASA. Maybe I’ll attend NASA Nationals at Miller as a spectator to see what all the hype is about. What are your plans and where are going this season? Have you done a budget? What else do you consider when preparing one for a season – did I miss anything?

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