This type of car is called by a variety of names across the country-Street Stock, Bomber, Hobby Stocker-but the point is that they are usually an older V-8-powered street car with the interior, all the glass, the stock seats, and anything that isn't necessary to make the car mobile, stripped out. Then a rollcage is built, more to protect the driver than to act as a chassis stiffener or a mounting point for the suspension. The exhaust is removed except for the barest minimum of the stock system to route exhaust from the engine past the driver. Headers aren't usually used. The engines are mostly stock with any modifications intended to improve durability executed on the externals of the engine, at least at the start.

Wheels and the suspension are usually left in stock trim with the exception of possibly some better shocks and some other modifications to the suspension that are legal and dependent on the local rules. Some racers will make some different adjustments to the camber to aid in the car turning. On some of the better-prepared cars, the entire electrical system is removed and a much simpler system takes its place. The duties are limited to starting the car, providing a charging system for the battery, some minimal power to run gauges, and some other minimal devices.

This class of racecar can be built for less than one would think. With some careful selection of the car and some faithful searching in the racing classifieds, you could build a Street Stock racer and spend as little as $2,000. The cars can often be purchased used for quite a reasonable price, but don't expect the car to be in showroom condition. In fact, this class seems to have a good deal of turnover as racers will often gravitate to other classes, so used cars are usually plentiful.

The racing in these classes is intense, physical, and just plain fun. The low cost of the cars, the lower horsepower, and narrow hard tires make the cars a great place to learn about car control. Often the fastest way around the track is to drive a bit slower and less sideways and lower on the track. That's not to say that the cars aren't capable of some real sideways action, it just may not be the fastest way around the track. Theone thing you notice is that these drivers are smiling before the races and they're smiling as they get out of the car after the races. Sometimes it is just about the fun.-J. Hill

The Upside: The cost of entry is about as low as it can get in any racing series. You can get your feet wet and test the racing waters without taking a financial bath. You'll learn about the mechanicals and the driving side of the sport.

The Downside: It's difficult to earn respect in this class unless you're a consistent winner. The equipment is at its mechanical limit and breaking parts even without the help of the other competitors is a fact of life. These cars will require maintenance and repair on a fairly regular basis; fortunately, junkyards are full of low-cost parts.

Speedway Motors