Get the family truckster out to the racetrack at one of the 1,300 amateur races held every year.
The Sports Car Club of America and NASCAR's Dodge Weekly Series hold more than 1,300 amateur races annually. NASCAR's races are on an oval track, the SCCA's on twisting road courses. Here are some of the most popular classes. For some, you can basically race the family car (pending spousal approval). For others, you'll need a real racecar. Earn a license at an SCCA driving school--October is your last chance until spring.
Some call this class the "mod squad." These are the only open-wheeled racecars that compete in NASCAR's amateur series. The cars burn through tires--a $500 set every race. NASCAR legend Geoff Bodine made a name for himself here.
Engine/top speed: 600 hp, 150 mph Cost for the car: $30,000-$100,000 Weekly racing cost: $1,000-$2,000
Before they started racing on Sundays, many pros chasing the Nextel Cup started out here. They drive custom-built racecars that are required to look like street cars.
Engine/top speed: 700 hp, 125 mph Cost for the car: $50,000-$65,000 Weekly racing cost: $1,000-$2,000 Popular cars: Ford Taurus, Chevy Monte Carlo, Pontiac Grand Prix
What races in this class lack in speed, they make up for in fierce competition. Few engine modifications are allowed, so it's all about the driving. Just add safety gear to your sedan, and you can race.
Engine/top speed: 300 hp, 115 mph Cost for the car: $5,000-$7,000 Weekly racing cost: $300-$500 Popular cars: Ford Mustang, Ford Pinto, Chevy Malibu
There are four GT classes, all of which race together. GT-1s use custom-built racecars that look like stock cars. Among SCCA cars they are the fastest, the loudest, and the most expensive.
Engine/top speed: 700 hp, 190 mph Cost for the car: $150,000-$250,000 Weekly racing cost: $5,000-$10,000 Popular cars: Chevy Corvette, Oldsmobile Cutlass, Chevy Camaro
Modeled after Formula One racers, these custom cars are light, weighing about 1,250 pounds. That's 600 pounds less than a Volkswagen Beetle. To win, you'll have to take down Graham Rahal, son of three-time Indy champ Bobby Rahal.
Engine/top speed: 220-240 hp, 165 mph Cost for the car: $100,000 Weekly racing cost: $3,000-$8,000
You could drive one of these cars to the office and then to the track. Take a stock car from the past 10 years, put a roll cage inside, and you're pretty much ready to go. They even race on regular tires.
Engine/top speed: 100-240 hp, 150 mph Cost for the car: $10,000-$30,000 Weekly racing cost: $500-$1,000 Popular cars: BMW Z-3, Mazda RX-7, Honda Civic
Or you could just buy a team
Pro NASCAR teams are run like companies, often by former business owners. But they're big money losers unless they win some races. If you want a shot at next year's Nextel Cup, it will cost you up to $20 million to run a team. That pays for the driver's salary ($850,000 to $3 million), a crew of 65 to 125 people, and an inventory of 20 cars ($150,000 each).