Then there is nothing left to do but go and have fun!-Jeff Huneycutt

The Upside: Full-scale racing on a reduced budget.

The Downside: Limited adjustability may hinder the learning curve if you move to a more advanced class of cars.

Sources
Esslinger Engineering
626/444-4919
www.esslingerengineering.com

Johnson's Racing Engines
864/697-6067

KT Engine Development
704/784-2610
www.ktenginedev.com

Dwarf Cars & Mod-Lites
Dwarf Cars have been around for 20-plus years in various forms. The current evolutionary state of the cars shows some real positives and good development. Dwarf Cars are essentially the precursor to Legends Cars and Mod-Lites.

Dwarfs utilize a large displacement 1,200cc Japanese motorcycle engine. These are racecars through and through. One of the biggest differences between Dwarf Cars and Mod-Lites are the tires. The Dwarfs are required to run a DOT-approved tire while the Mod-Lites run a Hoosier or a Goodyear racing tire. So when traction is at a premium, the Mod-Lites have an advantage.

Mod-Lites are a fairly recent evolution. To the average fan, the cars look very similar. The Dwarf Cars have steel bodies that are reminiscent of '30s and '40s sedans, only much smaller. The cars are both fully suspended and have fully adjustable suspensions. They have fuel cells and as much as 160 hp can be generated from the motorcycle engines they use for power. They have a driveshaft and aren't chain driven, a real positive.

The Dwarf Cars use a modified Toyota passenger car rearend while the Mod-Lites are allowed either the same Toyota rearend or they can use a quick-change rearend. Multiple gears are available for the Toyota rearend and the quick-change has many possible combinations that can be changed in short order.

The racing is intense and the cars usually race on smaller quarter-mile and 3/8-mile ovals on both dirt and pavement. The racers run close and contact isn't uncommon, but the racing isn't as physical as the Street Stock guys. These cars teach great car control and the fact that they have a pretty good horsepower-to-weight ratio makes them a pretty good ride for the driver and they put on a pretty good show for the fans.

These cars are built by multiple manufacturers and the prices are reasonable when you consider that they're full-on racecars. A new Mod-Lite can cost upwards of $19,000, ready-to-run, but the price can drop if you're willing to do a good bit of the assembly work and buy some of the bolt-on parts.

Dwarf Cars are a bit less expensive, but a new car can still reach into the mid-teens. Used Dwarf Cars can be found from $4,500 to $10,000, depending on the condition and the age of the car. Both of these cars require a bit less racing infrastructure to maintain and move around. You won't need a big truck and trailer to haul your car to the races. The majority of the Dwarf Car and Mod-Lite drivers use a medium-duty truck or car to haul the car and trailer. These cars are easy on the wallet to maintain as well. You might go through 4 to 5 gallons of pump gas on a race night. And, with the price of fuel only getting higher, it's nice to know that you can go racing for $20 to $30 worth of fuel (pump gas) instead of $100 to $150 of race gas for a night.-John Hill

The Upside: The cars are easy to drive and most racers feel very comfortable in them very quickly. Even though they're a fairly small car, there is still a good bit of room, even for larger drivers. Tires aren't a real cost driver with the Dwarf Cars as they run a DOT tire.

The Downside: The rules are fairly restrictive and the cars have a very narrow range of owner-inspired engineering allowed. If you want a car that you can work at developing new and different part combinations, this class is a bit restrictive from a rules perspective. Depending on options, the cars can be a bit on the expensive side if you purchase everything new.