If you have aspirations to...
If you have aspirations to race, Street Stocks offer an excellent chance to start learning about stock cars.
Your options are wide open if you want to get involved in stock car racing. You're limited only by your desire and your right rear-if your right rear pocket is where you keep your wallet.
For 99 percent of the potential new racers out there, the local short track is a great place to start driving. It makes sense to start in a simpler and less costly class. The idea of starting at the highest levels is not only an unreasonable expectation, but it's restrictive due to costs and infrastructure requirements. Most tracks have beginner classes that use older street cars as the basis for the race car. The common vernacular, of course, is Street Stock.
Once the car is gutted, with...
Once the car is gutted, with the doors, engine, and transmission out, you can start to install the rollcage. It's important to make sure the driver's compartment is well protected. Even though the speeds are slower, you can still suffer serious injury in a Street Stock.
When you say Street Stock it can mean many different things, depending on the region of the country where you live. Street Stocks run the full gamut of a simple street car that has been gutted-with all the interior glass removed and a few rudimentary bars installed to act as a rollcage for a modicum of driver safety-to the other end of the scale. There you'll find a well-prepared car with a full rollcage, a special racing seat, upgraded seatbelts, a fuel cell, and some limited suspension upgrades like adjustable shocks and aftermarket springs. Again, the definition of a Street Stock is very open and very regional. The common thread is the use of an older street car as the genesis of the race car.
Starting in a Street Stock racer gives you all the thrills of competition for about the most reasonable price in all of racing. Street Stocks provide the opportunity to sample the full racing adventure while gaining a good bit of mechanical and setup experience. It offers the racer the opportunity to get in a car and learn about driving. It also can demonstrate that being a crew chief is not as easy as simply sitting on the pit box and making decisions about whether to take two tires or four, or one can of fuel or merely a splash.
This view shows the level...
This view shows the level of teardown that is necessary to build the car. While this may seem like a huge task, remember that many of the parts you'll be removing won't be going back on the car, so the reassembly will be significantly easier than the teardown.
Just how much do you have to spend to get a car ready? The first and most convoluted answer is, "It depends." Primarily, it depends on the rules in the local class you plan to run and how much you have in your budget. If you're willing to do all the labor yourself and have a minimum of tools, you can get involved for a reasonable cost. That said, it's possible to get a car on the track for around two grand.
The first logical place to look would be the local speedway to see what classes are being run and if there are any cars for sale. It may be possible to buy the car ready to race and avoid doing any work at all; however, half of the fun is building the car. But sometimes you can get a race-ready Street Stock for a reasonable price, as racers are always in a state of flux moving on or moving out of the sport. There are opportunities out there if you look.
Building your own car has a number of advantages. Most importantly, you're aware of every nut and bolt on a race car in which you will be placing your posterior, and building it yourself is the best way to go if you have basic mechanical ability.
This Chrysler has unibody...
This Chrysler has unibody construction and not a traditional frame. The rollcage has been extended into the engine compartment to stiffen the body. This is accomplished by tying the front and rear suspension into the 'cage. (This may not be allowed in your local Street Stock association, so check the rules.) The sheetmetal this car is made of is thick, as several layers of metal were folded over to make this strut on the chassis. This is why there's not a doubler between the tube and body. Cars with a frame have thinner sheetmetal that makes up the body and require additional metal for strength under the tube-to-body intersections.
Going to the local speedway and talking to the racers in the pits is a great way to gather information. Racers in general are a gregarious lot and more than willing to help a new guy get started. It may even provide an opportunity to do some volunteer work. Ask if a team could use some help on race days or back at the shop. Few racers will turn down volunteer help, and working on the cars is always time well spent. It offers a good opportunity to meet new friends and learn about the cars.
Then, if you still want to build your own car, make sure you research what other area racers are using as the basis for the cars they're racing. You also need to get a copy of the rules and have a complete understanding of what you need to be looking for to build your racer. Many tracks have a specific type or range of years they use as the basis for the Street Stocks they race. Do your homework prior to buying a car to start this project. Once you have all the data on the type of car that is working well at the track, and you know what is allowed, the next step is to look for a car.
The best place to start looking is with the help of your friends and coworkers. Let them know what you are looking for and be specific with regard to the year and model.
A local racer was telling me about the path he followed to get the donor car for his Street Stock. He let his pals know he was looking for an older car. He gave them the brand, model, and year he wanted. One of his pals said his neighbor had the exact car he was looking for parked at his house. He was given the owner's phone number, a deal was made, and the car was towed away for less than $100. Another driver told me he got his car for free; the owner just wanted it off his property.
There are still plenty of '70s and early '80s Fords, Chevrolets, and Dodges out there that are rear-wheel drive and prime candidates for developing into Street Stocks, but you have to search.
You'll notice that the extra...
You'll notice that the extra bars are already welded into the passenger side, and the seat rail is tacked into place. The stock steering column will be used and retained in the stock location.
Notice that many of the internal...
Notice that many of the internal parts of the car have been removed without affecting the structure of the car, including the dash and much of the metal that supported it.
This racer shows a simple...
This racer shows a simple dash arrangement and minimal electrical system. Notice the seatbelts are mounted to the 'cage.