At first examination, there seems to be an incompatibility between a stock car and a motorcycle engine. Motorcycle power in a bodied race car? As strange as it seems, you might be surprised how common it's become in the past 10 years. Granted, we're not talking about a full-size machine here, but the models that use this power have authentic race car looks.

The engines used are mostly Kawasaki and Yamaha with 600cc-1,300cc displacements, depending on the type of vehicle used. A common assumption with these beginning classes is that there is not enough power for wheel-to-wheel competition. Yet with capabilities up to 135 hp, and vehicle weights in the 1,000-pound category, these mini-racers are real movers.

Powertrains for these types of bike-powered mini-racers are of two distinct configurations. First there is the long-standing chaindrive setup; others use a standard automotive driveline arrangement. There are also a number of mini-open-wheel vehicles that have been around for several years, but we won't examine those here. The winged Mini-Sprints and the more recent Kenyon Midgets have both used motorcycle power with excellent results.

The concentration here, however, will be on six different motorcycle-powered full-body race machines-Dwarf cars, Legend cars, Baby Grand cars, Pro Challenge cars, Challenger Dirt Late Models, and Thunder Roadster race cars.

Each is unique in its own way, offering race experience to all ages, male and female, at amazingly economical prices. As all these models have suspension systems, racers actually get to learn how to set up a race car. Not all of these cars are available across the country, though several of them have almost nationwide distribution. All carry significant safety equipment.

Here's a look at each of these motorcycle-powered race cars. One might be exactly what you're looking for:

Dwarf CarsDwarf cars are popular across much of the country. Stepping back in time for their body designs, these 51/48-scale models are based on '28-'48 vintage American models, in coupe, sedan, and even pickup truck styles. Often confused with Legend cars, these models are more of a modified style with the front and rear fenders omitted. The cars have sheetmetal bodies, use a steel-tube frame with a sturdy rollcage, and run on short oval tracks.

With an automotive-style powertrain arrangement, the three most popular motorcycle engines used are Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Honda. They range in size from 1,000 cc-1,250 cc. The engines are both air- and water-cooled, burning both alcohol and gasoline. They also use five- or six-speed motorcycle transmissions and a modified Toyota-type rearend.

The 1,000-pound Dwarfs use 13-inch tires and compete on one-fifth- to three-eighth-mile tracks. Handling is excellent with coilover shocks on all four corners. With only slight changes, the Dwarf cars can be modified for dirt or pavement.

A new car, minus the engine, can be acquired for $6,500 and up. But a used roller can be acquired for $3,000-$5,000. New engines cost in the $2,000-$3,000 range, while used engines can be bought for one-third to one-half that of a new engine.

Legend CarsLike the Dwarf cars, the motorcycle-powered Legend cars have a '30s and '40s aura, also with 51/48-scale designs. The major difference between the two body styles is that the Legend cars have the total factory appearance with the stock-style fenders. The Legends also have more of a modern twist with full fiberglass bodies.