The asphalt snobs sometimes like to say something like, "Dirt's for farmers," but those are the same people who have no idea just how much fun they are missing out on. Dirt racing isn't simply a hobby for those not "complex" enough to understand how to race on asphalt. In fact, racing on dirt adds several dynamics that you simply do not find on asphalt tracks. Not to take anything away from asphalt racers, but that may be why dirt tracks greatly outnumber asphalt ovals at the Saturday night level.
So if you've ever thought about going dirt racing, we'd encourage you to jump in with both feet. We understand that it can be a little intimidating if you've never raced before, or have only raced on asphalt. With that in mind, we offer these 10 no-fail tips for starting a successful-and don't forget fun-dirt racing career. Whether you are just looking to have fun on Saturday nights without breaking the bank or want to be able to earn a living driving one of the big-time touring series, there is something in here for you.
Find The Class That Fits Your NeedsSpend a little time before rushing in to decide just what it is you want out of your dirt racing experience. Do you hope to make it to the big leagues of dirt racing? Are you just looking for an inexpensive class to have some fun with your buddies on Saturday nights? There are lots of different classes out there, and each has its own positives and negatives. Many tracks have their own names for their classes, but they usually break down into four major categories.
The Mini-Stock class is unique because it uses four-cylinder engines in predominately compact cars such as the Ford Mustang and Toyota Celica. This used to be the class that everyone started out in, but it has gotten so specialized that it's hardly the case anymore. Mini-Stocks are one of the slower classes, so try this if the speed at your local track intimidates you. These cars also draw a lot of veteran racers because they actually require you to perfect your setups and stay on top of the wheel if you hope to race and win. So you may also want to look here if you are more of a technique driver than one obsessed with all-out power.
Street Stocks, Pure Stocks and IMCA-style Mods are usually the cheapest classes to race. They are usually based around a GM metric chassis ("mid-80s to early 90s" Monte Carlos, Buick Regals and Olds Cutlasses) which means donor cars are still plentiful. There are also a ton of replacement parts on the market for these cars at relatively good prices. These classes also either require mostly stock engine parts or have a cheap engine claim rule that keeps costs and power levels down. Finally, if your blood runs Ford blue you may want to swallow your pride before entering this class. Chevys dominate here not because they are significantly better, but they are significantly cheaper to build and race than the blue oval.
The Super Stock class is basically the same as Street Stocks but with looser engine rules. And although the cars may look just about the same, the racing is usually quite different. At a lot of dirt tracks this is the best racing to be found because the engines can produce anywhere between 500 and 550 horsepower while the rules limit the cars to tiny eight-inch-wide tires. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of skill to drive these cars well, but when you develop the ability there is nothing like it. These cars are also more basic when it comes to setups than Dirt Late Models, so if you want to get by with more time racing than wrenching, this may also be the class for you.
The Late Model class is the king of the hill at most dirt tracks. In the past few years, however, a major division has split the Late Model racers into two ranks: those running crate engines and those who still campaign built motors.