We’re Going Racing and You Should Too!

Track Night In America
Photo credit: Allison Feldhusen

My father always said “lead by example” and, if you haven’t noticed, we follow than mantra here at RFD.  We have encouraged you to be an enthusiast (it’s free after all), and provided you with some of information you need to get into motorsports.  Where it’s general rally, rallycross, autocross, or track day/night, we’ve got you covered with a lot more great content in the queue.  Don’t forget to check out our epic HPDE calendar, newly updated for 2016!   So its no secret that we love a good track daybe it paved or tarmacand since we are launching this new 2016 “get out and race” initiative, we are going to go with you.  But first we need a car.

Ford Focus ST versus BMW M3, Autocross
The Author testing our old E46 M3 (click for full article)

The Car

This car needs to do it all, from a motorsports perspective.  We are planning to campaign this new vehicle in all of the series and racing formats mentioned above, and several others (doriftooo!).  So it will need to tackle an SCCA RallyCross on a Saturday and be a simple wheel-and-tire-swap away from a taking on a tarmac event at Dominion Raceway the following day.   I don’t care if we win any trophies, but I want it to be competitive in every series we enter.  Which brings us to drivetrain.  And I’ll admit, I’m already biased on this one.  Having driven most front-engined layouts in anger on a track, I have a favorite.  I’m in charge, so I can be biased.  FWD can certainly be capable, and there are a lot of great options out there, but it’s not nearly as much fun.   Unfortunately, while generally good at everything (except burnouts), AWD is a little cliché.  Anyone can buy a cheap WRX and go racing.  See below for my other reasons on why our #RFDRaceCar shouldn’t be AWD.  No, in this case, RWD is the clear winner and naturally it is going to need a manual transmission. #gravelmachinegun #rwdrally

Up next is reliability, and it’s incredibly important. We want something bulletproof that we don’t have to spend our free time simply keeping in running condition. We want a boss of an engine that, even if it’s not insanely powerful, will get the job done.  Ideally it won’t cost a lot of run and maintain either, and an extensive list of parts and upgrades at our disposal is certainly a factor.  Basically, the same thing that WRC driver Hayden Paddon recently suggested.

While we are doing this for our own fun and enjoyment, RFD exists to entertain and inform on a nationwide, nay worldwide stage.  So just like drivetrain, I think we’ll get a lot more attention by racing something non-traditional, especially on a rally circuit.  This caused some conjecture amongst the crew here, but personally I love the idea of a car with luxury IMG_2438pretensions, maybe even a sedan, ripping around a rally stage.  It will really highlight how a well sorted chassis and some minor (at first) modifications can make a competitive (or at least fun and slidey) car.  As I said, anyone can buy a WRX for this task, obviously it will work.  Same goes for all manner of BMWs, but I question how cheap the running costs really are.  Regardless, think “out of the ordinary”; I want to hear “oh hey it’s the Right Foot Down guys and their _____” and that blank be filled with something less common.

So what’s our budget?  Around $5000 for the car; the point of this exercise is to show how cheap and easy it is to go racing, and that includes the car itself.  Plus, we’re journalists, which means we’re poor, and RFD doesn’t have an umbrella corporation above us to pay for crap like this.  So, as James May would say “the producers have given us $5000 pounds dollars, of our own money, to go out and buy something secondhand to turn into a race car”.


We won’t give away all the top secret plans just yet, but imagine a phased approach to the modification of our new race car. We start small, get a baseline, and continue to improve the car until it’s a full-on track monster.  We will need to pay close attention to the various class rules and regulations, but as long as we don’t build something that’s completely ineligible for an event, I don’t particularly care what class we are in.

Phase 1- “Stock Plus”

  • Skid plates
  • Snow tires
  • Sticky tires
Phase 2– “Less Is More”

  • Lightening
  • Racing seats & harnesses
Phase 3– “More Faster”

  • Limited-slip differential (if needed)
  • Engine tuning
  • Fresh bushings
  • Adjustable suspension
Phase 4- “Race Car”

  • Engine swaps
  • Wider fenders
  • Roll cage

Track Night In America

So What Do We Need From You?


As I mentioned, we are poor, so we need partners in all of this.  If you have a business or organization that you’d like to feature on the car itself, drop us a line on Twitter or Facebook.  We will have a variety of ways to participate, from simple sticker placement of various locations and sizes around the vehicle, to other partnerships opportunities providing parts and/or labor to help us modify the car.  This car will be present at dozens of events at many venues throughout the year and will get a lot of eyes on it, and we can also get your name out through the website and RFD social media feeds in the form of advertisements and product placement.

Help Us Choose A Car

You read our criteria, you read our budget, and you read what we’re going to do with it.  So what should we go purchase?  Post your thoughts in the comments below or via social media and use the hashtag #RFDRaceCar.

RFD Track Logo


Let Us Know What You Think

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