Endurance racing: the fun, the passion, the teamwork

https://www.youtube.com/embed/VT-Jua7phXY

The Nonnamaker family–longtime GRM partners–has been racing for some 50 years.

The team’s current ChampCar Porsche effort showcases why they keep coming back for more.

(Also, watch the whole video because Will Nonnamaker shares a strong life lesson at the end.)

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
2/3/22 1:52 p.m.

I love crapcan  endurance racing. It's the few times a year a bunch of my buddies and family get together from geographically separated areas to hang out, go racing, have a few brews, and catch up. We operate on a small budget, use junkyard engines, and rockauto parts to keep this thing together. 

racerfink
racerfink UltraDork
2/4/22 10:30 a.m.

It's getting nearly impossible to find rides in crapcan racing anymore.  Seems like seven or eight people looking for a seat, and one team looking for a driver.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
2/4/22 11:14 a.m.
racerfink said:

It's getting nearly impossible to find rides in crapcan racing anymore.  Seems like seven or eight people looking for a seat, and one team looking for a driver.

It's because racing isn't about cheap old cars anymore.   Not when entry fee is $2000 or more  Consumables & other expenses add another  $3-4-5000 and a $7000 car probably isn't competitive.   
     Recent fresh rebuilds are becoming more the norm then engines out of the junkyard.     Yearly expenses rival a serious SCCA  National runoff race.  
    That's fine.  But suddenly it's serious, no longer just fun.  Putting goofy themes on the car isn't a very good disguise for the budget involved either.   
   I have to say GRM's $2000 challenge  is the best racing for the buck. I just wish there was a way to have wheel to wheel racing too. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
2/4/22 2:37 p.m.
DirtyBird222 said:

I love crapcan  endurance racing. It's the few times a year a bunch of my buddies and family get together from geographically separated areas to hang out, go racing, have a few brews, and catch up. We operate on a small budget, use junkyard engines, and rockauto parts to keep this thing together. 

That's the true spirit that attracted me to it. In their defense the early rules were written exactly that way.   Luckily there are still people who still do it that way. 
     I'm now past the point where I can count on focusing for hours with the intensity racing demands.  
       I wonder if they would ever consider the same principles for short sprint races that don't use so much consumables  and wear on the car.   Maybe as an opening event?  A short 20 minute "race"  where  a guy could dip his toe in the water so to speak or demonstrate his car's potential to  entrants/ drivers? 

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
2/5/22 10:55 a.m.
frenchyd said:
racerfink said:

It's getting nearly impossible to find rides in crapcan racing anymore.  Seems like seven or eight people looking for a seat, and one team looking for a driver.

It's because racing isn't about cheap old cars anymore.   Not when entry fee is $2000 or more  Consumables & other expenses add another  $3-4-5000 and a $7000 car probably isn't competitive.   
     Recent fresh rebuilds are becoming more the norm then engines out of the junkyard.     Yearly expenses rival a serious SCCA  National runoff race.  
    That's fine.  But suddenly it's serious, no longer just fun.  Putting goofy themes on the car isn't a very good disguise for the budget involved either.   
   I have to say GRM's $2000 challenge  is the best racing for the buck. I just wish there was a way to have wheel to wheel racing too. 

I would have to disagree with that. I have been running lemons for 12 years now, and am literally working for them this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park (I'm on break at this moment). There are plenty of low budget cars here, and we have a ton of fun. Finding a seat is getting a little more difficult, but you can certainly find one if you look hard enough.  Yes there are fast cars here, yes the budget tends to be higher than it was 12 years ago. However, it's still relatively affordable as wheel-to-weel racing goes and it's an absolute blast.

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand New Reader
2/5/22 11:02 a.m.

I want to see endurance electric car racing.

MaxC
MaxC Reader
2/5/22 11:36 a.m.

Man. I have not had the same experience as the guys above. Is it really hard to find a seat in a budget Enduro? 

I built a cheap old car which cost $4700 to get to it's first race. Yeah we weren't fighting for the win, but to say we couldn't compete would be inaccurate. 

Expenses are split 4 ways, entry fees are $1200-1400... Nissan quest engine from a junkyard... By 3rd race we achieved 2nd in class in a very close battle. 

What you guys are saying is history is alive and well in Lucky Dog Racing League.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
2/6/22 4:10 a.m.
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) said:
frenchyd said:
racerfink said:

It's getting nearly impossible to find rides in crapcan racing anymore.  Seems like seven or eight people looking for a seat, and one team looking for a driver.

It's because racing isn't about cheap old cars anymore.   Not when entry fee is $2000 or more  Consumables & other expenses add another  $3-4-5000 and a $7000 car probably isn't competitive.   
     Recent fresh rebuilds are becoming more the norm then engines out of the junkyard.     Yearly expenses rival a serious SCCA  National runoff race.  
    That's fine.  But suddenly it's serious, no longer just fun.  Putting goofy themes on the car isn't a very good disguise for the budget involved either.   
   I have to say GRM's $2000 challenge  is the best racing for the buck. I just wish there was a way to have wheel to wheel racing too. 

I would have to disagree with that. I have been running lemons for 12 years now, and am literally working for them this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park (I'm on break at this moment). There are plenty of low budget cars here, and we have a ton of fun. Finding a seat is getting a little more difficult, but you can certainly find one if you look hard enough.  Yes there are fast cars here, yes the budget tends to be higher than it was 12 years ago. However, it's still relatively affordable as wheel-to-weel racing goes and it's an absolute blast.

Yes it still can be done cheaper than Running SCCA /club racing for example when you consider it on a  track time base.    But on an absolute lowest cost SCCA/club  type is still cheaper.  Endurance racing consume sets of tires  brake pads, etc. per weekend.  While with SCCA you are racing for 20-30 minutes at a time a couple of sessions per day.     Your tires, Brakes consumables can  last the season  not a 1/2 a weekend. 
 OK that's rough and dirty. Exceptions, exceptions exceptions.  Fair enough? 
    The real attraction is the ease for newbies to go racing at Endurance events compared to SCCA /club sprint events. 
 Not only does the endurance events have arrive and drive deals.  They generally are led by guys with previous knowledge and most likely the mechanical ability to put a successful (finishing) car on the grid. 
 Here are other advantages to club racing  over endurance.  New/newish cars, promotional opportunities like factory sponsorship. Marketing. 
       Faster speeds with 5-600 horsepower as compared to 200ish horsepower? 
Also the simplicity of one driver presumably with more experience .  Starting with 2 drivers schools,  regional racing, Then National racing,  before  the National runoffs.  
   As you can tell I has the knowledge and experience to be successful.  What I lack anymore is the ability to run at the limit for hours.  Age will do that. But I still can run for 20 minutes or so. 
 Not just old Geezers like me who want one more race in the sun.  But also rich kids who daddy's money keeps out the rif - raf. ( except for  the handful of Back markers  and old Geezers) 

  That's SCCA's weakness.  It started as a rich boys hobby and wants to remain there.  They are completely happy with the Rif-Raf  putting silly themes on or running old cars.  

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
2/6/22 4:25 a.m.
MaxC said:

Man. I have not had the same experience as the guys above. Is it really hard to find a seat in a budget Enduro? 

I built a cheap old car which cost $4700 to get to it's first race. Yeah we weren't fighting for the win, but to say we couldn't compete would be inaccurate. 

Expenses are split 4 ways, entry fees are $1200-1400... Nissan quest engine from a junkyard... By 3rd race we achieved 2nd in class in a very close battle. 

What you guys are saying is history is alive and well in Lucky Dog Racing League.

Finding that cheap old non worn out car, is the first task. Then  to pay for all the required safety stuff  is the least expensive way to go endurance racing.   
      That counts on luck. And as every gambler knows sooner or later your luck runs out. 
 The winners know the way to win is never count on luck.  Have fresh parts every time you go racing. With systems simplified so repairs take an absolute minimum of time. 
 None of that is cheap but winning attracts those with money. I doubt many ( if any ) are making a living off of putting together a team.  No the money is going to the organizers.  But I'm sure even they are primarily doing it because they like it.    

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
2/6/22 4:27 a.m.
VolvoHeretic said:

I want to see endurance electric car racing.

   Either quick change battery systems or  shorter events  Tesla's super chargers take 15 minutes to add 150 mile range.   
    Since Champ car requires 5 minute refueling stops  I suppose they can mix EV's with ICE's by requiring a refueling  every hour for ICE's and every 2 hours for EV's.? 
   The good thing is that would have a lot of passing.  The bad thing is that would have a lot of passing. 

 

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
2/6/22 7:05 a.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

Lemons entry fees are $1550 not $2000. And for that you're getting 16 to 24 hours of track time on world class tracks and all the support staff required. That is cheap - for racing. When a big budget event could blow tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in a weekend per team you and three to five of your friends can have a blast for about a thousand. Is it as cheap as a dinner date at Sizzler? No. But it's cheap for the hours of racing you get. If you're interested in endurance racing there's no cheaper way to do it. It's also a blast!!

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand New Reader
2/6/22 11:59 a.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I was thinking more in the lines of an independent E class endurance race. I was online and watched those battery formula cars doing a sprint race with no pit stops and thinking that I want to see all of the cars having to take 15 minutes to charge their batteries to make it real. surprise 

That's a good idea of quick change battery packs and something everybody should have considered before they all started planning to replace ICE's with battery cars in less than 10 years. They should have first all come up with a standardized battery pack just like your 20# outdoor grill propane tank exchanges that could be exchanged in minutes.

And just like in NASCAR where the fuel cells are designed to easily fall out of the cars in big wrecks, I think I also want the battery pack to fall out of my EV in a wreck. In fact, they should eject out of the back of the car with their own parachute. laugh 

Just think, in 20 years, these young kids will all be racing electric cars or making their own moonshine for their ICE race cars. Although how they are going to find enough lithium to replace the 1.4 billion cars in the world is beyond me.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
2/6/22 7:32 p.m.

We ran in three different series last year with our old 94 Accord and we had a blast in each. I do think Champcar has lost a bit of their crapcan spirit in some respects. My team ranked the series we ran in last year based on how much fun we had and how easy the series was to work with: 1) WRL 2) Lemons 3) Champ and we are diehard Champ guys. WRL runs a smooth operation with a small rule book, which is a great formula. We were the slowest car on track but we had zero issues with those cars that were significantly faster than us, plus we gotta lot of love for rocking a 90s Honda.

 Lemons is Lemons and I love a lot of the guys that run in there, plus we had the opportunity to compete for the overall win so even better. Bribing the judges is fun, especially when you see one of them in a kilt, eating the cold Chef-Boy-Ardee meatballs right out of the can like an animal. 

Champcar is great and all of our friends run in it. It's still one of the more attractive series to run in; but, holy crap have they laid out a lot of bureaucratic red tape to get through tech. You can literally meet every single standard in their rule book and they'll find some shenanigans to fail you or give you a temp pass while also being vague in what they want to see. They must've hired some career gov't or DoD employees because that's the kind of E36 M3 I see on the daily at work. They also claim to be an organization run by the members i.e. a club; however, it appears to a lot of us that they fail to hear our wants/needs for events. I'm griping but they are legit sucking some fun out of it. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
2/6/22 10:58 p.m.
dculberson said:

In reply to frenchyd :

Lemons entry fees are $1550 not $2000. And for that you're getting 16 to 24 hours of track time on world class tracks and all the support staff required. That is cheap - for racing. When a big budget event could blow tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in a weekend per team you and three to five of your friends can have a blast for about a thousand. Is it as cheap as a dinner date at Sizzler? No. But it's cheap for the hours of racing you get. If you're interested in endurance racing there's no cheaper way to do it. It's also a blast!!

To run at the pointy end of the field  the buy in cost of building a car.  isn't cheap.   Yes you can tail end Charlie it for under $10,000 except time spent working on your car in the pits while the bucks up guys are laying down laps.  
      So entrance fee for 4-5 drivers at LeMons  is $1500?  Not $2000  -$2500 like Champ car?  Well that's good.   Still got to get there, get the car, tools, spares, and etc., eat meals, plus figure out sleeping arrangements.   Plus Pay for the consumables,  and pay to rent your spot on the team.  
     Personally I like guys who get together and build the car together  rather than buy a ride. But that's just me.  
    I wonder just what a weekend would cost for an arrive and drive at the front end of the grid? 
 Think it would be much cheaper than a regional race with SCCA or a vintage club?  
 Yes you'd probably get more track time.  But going home with a recept is different from going home with your car in tow.  

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
2/7/22 7:35 a.m.
frenchyd said:
dculberson said:

In reply to frenchyd :

Lemons entry fees are $1550 not $2000. And for that you're getting 16 to 24 hours of track time on world class tracks and all the support staff required. That is cheap - for racing. When a big budget event could blow tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in a weekend per team you and three to five of your friends can have a blast for about a thousand. Is it as cheap as a dinner date at Sizzler? No. But it's cheap for the hours of racing you get. If you're interested in endurance racing there's no cheaper way to do it. It's also a blast!!

To run at the pointy end of the field  the buy in cost of building a car.  isn't cheap.   Yes you can tail end Charlie it for under $10,000 except time spent working on your car in the pits while the bucks up guys are laying down laps.  
      So entrance fee for 4-5 drivers at LeMons  is $1500?  Not $2000  -$2500 like Champ car?  Well that's good.   Still got to get there, get the car, tools, spares, and etc., eat meals, plus figure out sleeping arrangements.   Plus Pay for the consumables,  and pay to rent your spot on the team.  
     Personally I like guys who get together and build the car together  rather than buy a ride. But that's just me.  
    I wonder just what a weekend would cost for an arrive and drive at the front end of the grid? 
 Think it would be much cheaper than a regional race with SCCA or a vintage club?  
 Yes you'd probably get more track time.  But going home with a recept is different from going home with your car in tow.  

I have run in everything from literally the slowest car on the track to the pointy end of the field.  The car I currently run in, and have been for 4 or 5 seasons now, is at the pointy end.  We are consistently top 10, typically 6-8th.  We could have won overall one race, but got an unwarranted black flag and wound up finishing 3rd (our teammates won overall, so it was still a good day).  I am an arrive and drive, but I'm pretty confident the car wasn't $10k+ to build.  After running it for as many years as we have, we very likely do have $10k+ into it, but that's not what the car cost to build.  Consumables are kind of what they are.  Our tires will last 3 to 4 races per set, and again we're pointy end of the field.  Brakes last just as long if not longer.  Gas sucks.  What keeps us from the overall win?  Horsepower, or a lack thereof.  Yes, we'd have to spend more money to get it and we're talking about that.  At the same time, just being competitive and staying on the track is far better than breaking and being in the garage wrenching.

Arrive and drive costs will depend on the team, etc...typicall you're looking at $900-$1300ish for a spot with a good team.  Yes, you have to get there, make sleeping arrangements, etc...  Many guys will sleep in the trailer or something like that.  I'm too much of a diva...I like my own hotel room.  I also fly to most of my races, because my team is based in the northeast and I live in Atlanta.  So yeah, a weekend of racing isn't cheap.  Track days/HPDE is far cheaper.  However my racing team is my second family and I wouldn't give it up unless I absolutely had to.  Hell, dculberson has taken a break from it to raise his family, however I met him over a decade ago and I'm still proud to call him a friend.

No racing is cheap.  Cars are expensive.  But bang for the buck, endurance racing is hard to beat.  

 

trigun7469
trigun7469 SuperDork
2/7/22 8:30 a.m.

What makes Crap can racing unique is your have LeMons which is not serious, Champcar is somewhat serious, and AER & WRL can be very serious. I am not sure what to think about SCCA and NASA's attempts. The cost of doing anything has gone up in every sector and racing which is typically in a bubble is hit. Selling a race car typically takes 6-8 months, now people are selling them within weeks. Even kart racing with the supply chain it's not easy to get a brand new Lo206 I have seen some prices double the amount for the engine. Crap Can is still the cheapest car racing and some of the best tracks.

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
2/7/22 10:12 a.m.
frenchyd said:

To run at the pointy end of the field  the buy in cost of building a car.  isn't cheap.   Yes you can tail end Charlie it for under $10,000 except time spent working on your car in the pits while the bucks up guys are laying down laps.  
      So entrance fee for 4-5 drivers at LeMons  is $1500?  Not $2000  -$2500 like Champ car?  Well that's good.   Still got to get there, get the car, tools, spares, and etc., eat meals, plus figure out sleeping arrangements.   Plus Pay for the consumables,  and pay to rent your spot on the team.  
     Personally I like guys who get together and build the car together  rather than buy a ride. But that's just me.  
    I wonder just what a weekend would cost for an arrive and drive at the front end of the grid? 
 Think it would be much cheaper than a regional race with SCCA or a vintage club?  
 Yes you'd probably get more track time.  But going home with a recept is different from going home with your car in tow.  

So here's the thing, every number you throw out about this type of racing is conjecture. You've never done it, and never been involved in a team that has. I've done about a dozen Lemons races, including building my own car and lots of arrive and drives. I've done one WRL race. It's not as expensive as you make it out to be, unless you want it to be. You can win overall (at Lemons, mind you, probably not WRL) in a car that costs a lot less than $10k. Yes it costs more than a 10 minute sprint race, but you're comparing apples to grape seeds with that. Plus I bet the average SCCA sprint car build costs way more than a Lemons build.

I don't know what going home with a recept is meant to be, looks like a typo.

Tail end Lemons cars are true $500 cars with a home built cage. None of those guys have $10k in a car. I've seen guys pick up a pre-caged car for a grand, slap some tires on it, and finish mid-pack. Most of the hurdles to a good finish are organization, thoroughness, mechanical skill, and driving clean. None of which cost money, all of which cost time and skill. Working on your car in the pits is down to being bad at preparation work, not how much money you spent.

I've done a stint as an arrive and drive in a top finishing car for $800 buy-in. I had to get myself to the track and I slept in a tent and brought food. That didn't include the Lemons license fee or safety equipment, but you need that for an SCCA race. In fact the SCCA licensing is far more expensive than Lemons and you need safety equipment for either one. If you're a dabbling amateur, I can guarantee that doing a Lemons race here or there as an arrive and drive is cheaper than buying and prepping your own car, licensing yourself, and driving in an SCCA or vintage race.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
2/7/22 10:30 a.m.

In reply to trigun7469 :

I will say the quality of driving in all endurance racing has definitely improved a lot.    Plus preparation has also improved.  
          Appearance is starting to matter,  which improves the show. 

trigun7469
trigun7469 SuperDork
2/7/22 11:11 a.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I agree that it has evolved, but it was never circle track 4 cylinder crash-o-rama class, that the $500 tag line might suggest.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
2/10/22 11:13 p.m.
trigun7469 said:

In reply to frenchyd :

I agree that it has evolved, but it was never circle track 4 cylinder crash-o-rama class, that the $500 tag line might suggest.

I had a Jaguar XJS V 12 I had ready early. I went to the track to make sure I was legal. ( I actually had less than $500 in it)    I brought my receipts and pictures with me.  I spent several hours watching tech and decided it would meet the rules.  
 I spoke with the guy doing tech and asked. He checked my receipts and pictures asked some question and then told me about penalty laps,  car crushing, etc. and I decided  I didn't want to risk my work. Granted it wasn't pretty but no worse than any car there. 
  It was like I showed up with a recent Corvette. 

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
2/11/22 6:28 a.m.
frenchyd said:
trigun7469 said:

In reply to frenchyd :

I agree that it has evolved, but it was never circle track 4 cylinder crash-o-rama class, that the $500 tag line might suggest.

I had a Jaguar XJS V 12 I had ready early. I went to the track to make sure I was legal. ( I actually had less than $500 in it)    I brought my receipts and pictures with me.  I spent several hours watching tech and decided it would meet the rules.  
 I spoke with the guy doing tech and asked. He checked my receipts and pictures asked some question and then told me about penalty laps,  car crushing, etc. and I decided  I didn't want to risk my work. Granted it wasn't pretty but no worse than any car there. 
  It was like I showed up with a recent Corvette. 

I'm guessing that was many years ago.  The car crushing thing was in the very early days of LeMons, when pretty much every car was a $500 car.  This is no longer done.  Nor do they typically ask for receipts.  $500 car is mostly "in spirit" now.  If you bring a 2018 Mustang GT, they'll raise an eyebrow at you and give you a bunch of penalty laps.  However, cars like that don't show up anyway.  If you're interested in endurance racing, I'd suggest taking a fresh look at it.  It's a lot different than you think.  I've got roughly 50-55 events under my belt as a driver and about 5 or 6 as an employee of LeMons...and climbing.  I can tell you for sure it's not as expensive as most people think and it's every bit as competitive as any other grassroots series.

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/11/22 6:43 a.m.
frenchyd said:
dculberson said:

In reply to frenchyd :

Lemons entry fees are $1550 not $2000. And for that you're getting 16 to 24 hours of track time on world class tracks and all the support staff required. That is cheap - for racing. When a big budget event could blow tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in a weekend per team you and three to five of your friends can have a blast for about a thousand. Is it as cheap as a dinner date at Sizzler? No. But it's cheap for the hours of racing you get. If you're interested in endurance racing there's no cheaper way to do it. It's also a blast!!

To run at the pointy end of the field  the buy in cost of building a car.  isn't cheap.   Yes you can tail end Charlie it for under $10,000 except time spent working on your car in the pits while the bucks up guys are laying down laps.  
      So entrance fee for 4-5 drivers at LeMons  is $1500?  Not $2000  -$2500 like Champ car?  Well that's good.   Still got to get there, get the car, tools, spares, and etc., eat meals, plus figure out sleeping arrangements.   Plus Pay for the consumables,  and pay to rent your spot on the team.  
     Personally I like guys who get together and build the car together  rather than buy a ride. But that's just me.  
    I wonder just what a weekend would cost for an arrive and drive at the front end of the grid? 
 Think it would be much cheaper than a regional race with SCCA or a vintage club?  
 Yes you'd probably get more track time.  But going home with a recept is different from going home with your car in tow.  

It's not 2000 to 2500 in champcar either.   More like 1200 to 1800 depending on the track.  

 

Also, my race winning champcar build has about 12k into all in.

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