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FFCobra Fanatic
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·


Just been doodling with some of the results from this year's Nationals at Mid-Ohio (Sat/Sun races) to find a good class to race in, starting from a clean sheet of paper.

IMHO, the three criteria are car count, lap times and car costs. The chart and table ranks each class by car count and fast lap times - I don't have car costs but most have a reasonable feel for that number.

Selecting 10 cars as a cutoff for a competitive race and looking for faster lap times within that group of 9 classes, the classes that look best include AI, HC2, FFR, GTS3 and GTS4. (The AI data is a bit off because Friday's times were about 5 seconds faster the those shown for Sat/Sun).

I am biased, but bang for the buck, with this year's new specs, the FFR compares very favourably.
 

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You didnt state your racing history. good info for us so we can point you in a good direction.
I'm going to get "roasted" for this but Spec Miata is a great way to go. You looked at the nationals and that does NOT give a true picture of a reginal/local weekend race. We raced Cobras for years and found the podium at the nationals one year, had a great time. But on a regional level ( both SCCA and NASA) there MIGHT be 2 or 3 cobras to race against. Some of the bigger races might have a few more. Spec Miata will have 20 to 40 cars at a regional level every race weekend. The point here is you will always have someone to race against.
The cobras are fast and fun but if you are the only one at the race and you win the local event what did you proove?? There is a spec driver on this forum that won a local championship only because he was the only to drive most of the events. wouldnt be much fun for me.
Dont take this wrong I still have a Spec Cobra and its fun but its not the best bang for the buck.....just fun to drive

Blast away guys
 

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No doubt that both SM and SpecE30 are the best regional classes around. They are cheap (relatively speaking) and have great participation at every event.

I think if FFRC can get a 5-10 car count at regional events it would be a success. The FFR cars are not as cheap as Spec Miatas, but at the same time they are a lot closer to a true spec class so the racing would be tighter. Spec M has drifted farther and farther away from the being a true budget Spec series as the years have gone by, much to the frustration of the regional racers.

There is also a big movement away from the PTA/PTB group by C5 Corvette owners (or at least talk of) because of the 2013 rule changes. I’d love to see these existing drivers, plus other new ones see the value and fun of the FFRC spec class to get regional race car counts up.
 

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Thanks for posting this very cool chart. Agree you have to factor in the cost to build, and cost of spares, as a serious factor in the consideration of just which class in which to "invest" your time and $$....Agree also that the regional landscape is also a very big consideration. There may be 10-20 cars in a class at Nationals, but unless you have some top notch competition at the local level, it will be more difficult to optimize your development as a driver.

Here in the West, E-30 and anything in the German Touring Series (GTS), HC, 944, and Spec Miata represent the biggest fields. Being in Calgary, you'd have to check with the regional racing opportunities to see who, if anyone, is competing up your way...If there are none or few, you could be a leader and perhaps start a growing trend toward Challenge cars in your region..As best I know, there is no NASA Northwest Region, so no FFR/C/2 up there....I do know that the few Spec Racers in the Northwest are out there having lots of fun with their cars, and while it would be a serious haul (and not sure the hassle of crossing the border), perhaps you could travel south for events......

Out here in California, FFR as a series has virtually vaporized. While there are a number of factors in play, it seems to me that the most recent decline in competitiors over the course of this year was the resulting difficulties related to engine parts failures and expenses related to the upgrades/repairs. The now escalated price of the package (for grassroots racers) has created (at least out here) the preception of a dminished "bang for the buck" as it relates to grassroots racing.

To be fair, the Series had dwindled significantly out here over the last three years. The engine and suspension upgrades were long-wanted and were received with great enthusiasm and anticipation. Feedback on the suspension upgrades has been nothing short of ecstatic, however the challenges the engine upgrades brought (expensive failures, wasted weekends of track time and hours in the garage), pretty much put a nail in it...This is not to say that the Challenge cars aren't still very popular though......

Lots of folks are snapping up the already built Challenge cars, as they are not only a very cool car, but with the very reasonable prices for complete cars of late, present a tremendous "bang for the buck." More and more folks out here are transitioning Challenge cars to street-legal track weapons, while opting to buy E-30's (or other series cars) for the opportunity to compete among a larger racing field....Most real racers would agree it would be a hollow victory to secure a championship in a single car field.

Karen
 

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We don't have Spec E30 class here in the NW but have the Pro3 Cars and these can be in the $20-50K range and parts are not cheap.

Where Steve and I run we are the lowest expense item on the track in our class/group, as there are cup cars, ground pounders and many more sophisticated cars (better suspension, engine management, etc.).

We are having fun, we can mix it up with the ST and AS classes but the GT1-3 are way beyond us and so are some of the PRO44 but we learn better this way!

We can also run SCCA VP3 class which is a great class when you get 60+ cars out there (both open and closed wheel), and go against those big block mustangs and vettes.

To me its about the fun and being safe
 

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Karen,
I think you just hit on one of the biggest reasons people have not jumped into the series. I have talked to quite a few people who loved the cars, loved the close spec racing, and the overall value the series seems to offer…but they didn’t like the commitment needed to do the build, the uncertainty of the final costs with a kit, a lack of confidence in their own build skills, and the overall time between purchase and being able to race. There is no instant gratification which so many are looking for. I think seeing how fast built Challenge cars sell tell a lot about the market being there. If there was an option to buy cars at a known price, say $24K for a buy and drive new build and it could be delivered as soon as the person bought it we would see a lot more on track.

I can site several instances of this recently. The Mustang Challenge cars that you can order from the dealership have sold out. The surge of Panoz WC and GT1 cars once the price hit $20K. The Mazda Cup Cars, so on and etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Neat chart! but if you want real fast laptimes, look at qualifying results.. usually we run faster laps in quali then in the races. ex, I did a 1:35.689 friday quali, and in the race was 1sec slower..
It was surprising how much faster than previous years the cars were with the new modifications. Running them with AI instead of CMC could improve competition and cure any lingering perception. As to car counts, where did all the cars in NorCal go?

You didnt state your racing history.
I used to run the old #85 before it became a monster. Two years on dirt and a few years in boats, it maybe time to come back?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes, indeed you did Mark - you were employed at FFR at the time. I had totally forgotten that, and I thank you if I didn't already. A neat anecdote from that sale; I offered the full asking price and the vendor (who's name escapes me) turned around and made a big donation to a charity that was being sponsored by FFR at the time - I think it was for CF. A heck of a guy - nice to recall uplifting stories from gentler times.
 

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It's sad to see all the west coast cars going away. It's lonely up here in the NW. Like Tony said above, we are running in group 4 up here in the ICSCC sanctioning body running ITE class. There are only 2 Cobra replicas, Tony and me. We are in ITE because they don't have any other place to put us where we are at least somewhat competitive. We are mid pack speed with the group but still have plenty of cars to race with. It would be very cool to get more guys and gals up here to join in. If we could get at least five cars then we could ask for and possibly get our own class. Then maybe it take off and more would join.
 

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All the West Coast cars save one have either been sold off or converted to street use. Karen's #28 challenge car resides in a museum. while challenge car racing is for the moment gone, several of us are actively working to establish a coupe based series, or one which would include coupes and roadsters, possibly setting up a unique set of races combining some historic events and various track day clubs. The idea is to continue to promote the marque and build more attendance by showing other groups what these great cars can do. Any help or thoughts would be very welcome!
 

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Exactly

I have wanted to get into this series for a couple years. I have not raced before, but it is a goal. What you sight here is exactly what I feel. I also commented on some posts regarding the new rules, and running the coupe, etc... And I felt ignored, as a non-racer (Karen excepted).

No matter. I am going to look for a challenge car and see where it takes me (that's why I am on the forum today). But I have to say, the allure of something quick and less expensive... and sooner to the line... will undoubtedly take away many prospective entrants.

E~

Karen,
I think you just hit on one of the biggest reasons people have not jumped into the series. I have talked to quite a few people who loved the cars, loved the close spec racing, and the overall value the series seems to offer…but they didn’t like the commitment needed to do the build, the uncertainty of the final costs with a kit, a lack of confidence in their own build skills, and the overall time between purchase and being able to race. There is no instant gratification which so many are looking for. I think seeing how fast built Challenge cars sell tell a lot about the market being there. If there was an option to buy cars at a known price, say $24K for a buy and drive new build and it could be delivered as soon as the person bought it we would see a lot more...
 

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I have wanted to get into this series for a couple years. I have not raced before, but it is a goal. What you sight here is exactly what I feel. I also commented on some posts regarding the new rules, and running the coupe, etc... And I felt ignored, as a non-racer (Karen excepted).

No matter. I am going to look for a challenge car and see where it takes me (that's why I am on the forum today). But I have to say, the allure of something quick and less expensive... and sooner to the line... will undoubtedly take away many prospective entrants.

E~
Sorry if you felt Ignored, I for one thought you had some good comments from what I remember.

I still think we could have the coupes run as a exhibition class for a year or two to see how they work out. Play around with the weights and all to see how they balance out. Plus it brings the car counts up and more spectator fodder.
 

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Thanks for the kind words MrBear.....Marty, Steve....I know you guys would like to have more cars up you way, and I'm actively working on it....After several years of trying to convice the Challenge Series group to bring the Coupe in, as well as to expand the class to allow any and all FFR's to compete (I've always advocated for the notion of making a place for all of our (FFR) cars), I decided to stop hitting the wall, and just focus my energy on creating new opportunities for our cars myself.

A year ago, I purchased a complete Coupe kit, and have been moving forward with the development of a Competition Coupe. With the help of key members of the FFR Forum, and the encouragement of this community, the first true FFR Competition Coupe is now a reality, and we have at least nine others being built around the country. The FFR Challenge Series cars are simply amazing to own, drive and race, and by expanding our race platform to include the Coupe, I believe we are amping up the "Wow!" factor by many multiples.......I'm no longer just wishing this will happen, I'm going to make it happen!

Anyone interested in building a Competition Coupe or a Challenge Series roadster is welcome to contact me, as I will be happy to do what I can to help you get into racing and into the ride of your life!!! As another piece of "Ah Ha".....I also think there's a place for Competition '33 Hot Rods on track (a few folks are already forging that pathway).....Let's go!.......Let's work together to bring the "R" back in FFR in very big way!!!

Karen
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Has the spec for the coupe been determined? My coupe is not finished yet (in the paint shop) and it probably wouldn't take much to conform to a spec. Given the resistance to including the coupe with the challenge cars, will the coupe challenge group run with NASA or a different sanctioning body?
 

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PMcG.....I posted some basic specifications in my blog post on the other forum....This forum won't let me post a link (sorry), although it's pretty easy to find over there.

We're basically looking at a 331 CID engine with something in the neighborhood of a 7.5 ratio (HP:Wt)...5-speed trans, 8.8 solid axle w/ 3.27's...Hank is working on the viablity of the IRS system, but for now, the base would be a 3-link system.....Would love to keep the cars with NASA, but as you cited, with the resistance, I'm actively looking at other sanctioning bodies....Bottom line, if someone builds a Competition Coupe, we'll have a HP-WT spec that will bring them into the parameters.....Some folks may want to play with aero, and that would be encouraged too.....We need more track-worthy Coupes so we can move the needle on the aero....We did a whole lot of R&D with my first Coupe, and learned a lot....I'd welcome the expansion of the braintrust!! ;.))

As an aside, I can easily see a group of us getting together somewhere in the Pacific Northwest next year.....If we put a cool event together, I believe some of the Challenge Series guys from out here might be willing to tow...In the future, when FFR has a National event (not NASA Nationals, but a gathering for all FFR's from across the country), I'd love to see a group of Competition Coupes get together and tear up the track!!.....Good luck with your build!!!!

Karen
 
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