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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 1996 auto TT supra, but don't want to take it out on the track as it is my daily driver, and I don't have the money to fix it should I take a wall out, plus, I'd hate myself for destroying a supra. What I want to find out about is what you guys would recommend as a first time track car?

I want it to be rear wheel drive, have a decent amount of power, and the ability to grow into a force on the track. I was considering an 80's RX-7 with an LS-1, I know they are super light, and handle well as they are, and that if you pull the stock rotary/turbo out an LS1 only adds a hundred pounds if even that.

I'm also considering a miata, it seems like everyone loves them, but am not sure about power potential, I'd like to be in something similar to a small single ~500-600rwhp supra, which is why I was considering the RX-7, at the point I could handle the normal power, a supercharger would make it more than enough.

Finally, I was considering an old lotus or porsche, simply because they're what track cars are supposed to be it seems.

Any help much appreciated.
 

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Track the Supra!
My '94 auto TT is my daily driver and I have taken it to Road Atlanta and plan to take it elsewhere. There is the off-chance that you might hurt it, but I think that should be pretty small. I bet the cost would be less to take the Supra rather than build another car.
And it's just nice to add the improvements like brakes, suspension, etc, to your DD rather than a car that sits in the garage most of the time!
 

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I know everyone knows what I vote for, but I will say it anyway.

Buy a miata, put a roll bar in it, and put it on track. They are THE most fun track car I have ever driven. They are a ton of fun, and very fast on tight courses, even if they only have 90 hp. (I passed a viper in the advanced group at parhump in vegas this year) And if you have to have the power down the strights, there are plenty of people out there that with a turbo and fuel are putting out 250+ rwhp on track. My miata made 247rwhp ona an unopened stock engine.

You won't regret it. Trust me. It will be faster than old porsche's and lotus' without any power mods, and cheaper than hell to fix.

Matt
 

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Yea, that's why I was considering the mazda, just didn't know about power increase modifications. I was considering http://www.HinsonSuperCars.com as an RX-7 gen 2 or 3 swap, but that'd push the cost towards 10-15k if I had them build one for me. I know miata's can be had for CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP, but the convertible thing worries me, because I know i'm going to push it to the point i'm backwards and sliding sideways through the dirt which could flip it.
 

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miata would be a great learner car, but I really enjoyed learning to track in a MR2. It is the type of car the punishes bad habits, and rewards good ones. A 82-86 Mk2 Supra would also be a good choice. After you get the hang of it and want more power, drop a 7m-gte or 2jz-gte in, work on suspension & brakes, and you've got yourself a car capable of keeping up with the fastest cars on the track. And should you wreck, you can find spare bodies/parts almost anywhere...

But for a learning car, I would keep it NA and with only enough power to get out of its own way.
 

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I like an 87-90 RX7 turbo if you can find one. Good handling, excellent future power potential, lots of race part support, and reasonably priced. I have owned several, and i have opted tto build one into an all out road race car. 2500lbs, ~500hp, and 345-28-18 slicks........YEEHAW.
 

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The best "cheap" track car would be a 944. Excellent weight balance. And this will get you a nod into the PCA events which are held at most tracks throughout the US. A lot of driver's schools will not allow a convertible car - no matter how well built the roll cage is.

A 944 Turbo is going to be a little more expensive, but can be made to produce over 500 HP.

There are plenty of companies that provide suspension and performance parts for the 944 and 944 Turbo.


Regards,
James R
 

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Actually there is a LS1 V8 conversion for the 944 that makes for a very wicked DE car. I know someone that has one and it is very fast. On the cheaper side, the miata is very much a blast to drive and will surprise you what lap times you can run in them. It is definitely a momentum car which teaches you to be tidy in your driving to wring out all the speed you can. Miatas brake VERY DEEP which is a lot of fun. On the convertible issue you just buy the bolt on hard top and that gets you around any "cabriolet" ban by some clubs. Although many PCAs allow the Boxsters to run because of their little baby roll bars behind each seat. Me, that would make me nervous. I want a hard top over me.
Barry H.
 

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Since you're in Sacramento, there are tracks you can learn on that are low risk tracks for beginners. Both Thunderhill (about 90 miles north of Sacto), and Buttonwillow (about 240 miles south) are very safe tracks. You have to do something pretty stupid to put your car into a wall at either track. Laguna Seca is more dangerious, and Sears Point (I refuse to call it Infineon) is even worse because doesn't have much runoff room in a lot of places on the track before you hit something hard.

An even better idea is to do some autocrosses to get a feel for how the car handles at the limit in a parking lot before going to a track event. I haven't autoxed for a number of years, but if the American Autox Series is still running events in Sacto, they tend to run big fast courses that are a good learning tool for track events.
 

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Supra GTR said:
A lot of driver's schools will not allow a convertible car - no matter how well built the roll cage is.
this just isn't true. I've seen people not be allowed with some rollbars that didn't extend over thier helmet, or the bars weren't of the correct thickness, but never a properly built bar and especially not a cage. If the cage is good enough for door to door racing in the Spec Miata class, it will be good enough for any DE.

I have NEVER been told my car wasn't going to be allowed for safety.

Matt
 

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Matt:

BMW CCA and PCA here won't allow a ragtop for their driver's schools. We won't either. A lot of people tend not to get the hard top. You can run Spec Class races for SCCA Club Racing etc in open top configurations. But not Driver's Schools. Totally different type of insurance. And most guys running spec classes are prepared to accept the fact that they are racing. DE students have no idea about some of the risks involved.

Barry is right. A bolt in hardtop with roll bar will alleviate the issue in most cases.

The easiest solution to the question regarding rag tops is contact your region's schools and clubs to see what they allow in their DE's vs. races.

Regards,
James R
 

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interesting. I guess that shows that PCA and BMWCCA events are run different in different parts of the country. Thanks for the info.

Best-
Matt
 
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Some regions of the BMW CCA won't even allow convertibles with detachable hard tops... :-(

Jim
 

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I would recommend an MR2. Being mid-engine/RWD it really makes you learn car control and being smooth or it'll bite you in the ass. I went from my 300zxtt to an MR2T and I'm amazed at how easy it was to drive the Z fast around the track as it's very forgiving. When I switched to the MR2 for a track car I realized how little car control and smoothness I had learned tracking the Z. The Z was so easy to drive you could get away with a lot of mistakes; the MR2 really makes you learn how to drive correctly and you'll know right away when you've made a mistake. Just make sure your first few track events are on courses with lots of runoff room (like VIR)
 

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'94Z32TT said:
I would recommend an MR2. Being mid-engine/RWD it really makes you learn car control and being smooth or it'll bite you in the ass. I went from my 300zxtt to an MR2T and I'm amazed at how easy it was to drive the Z fast around the track as it's very forgiving. When I switched to the MR2 for a track car I realized how little car control and smoothness I had learned tracking the Z. The Z was so easy to drive you could get away with a lot of mistakes; the MR2 really makes you learn how to drive correctly and you'll know right away when you've made a mistake. Just make sure your first few track events are on courses with lots of runoff room (like VIR)
I agree MR2s are a blast to drive, but they're one of the last cars I'd recommend for a beginner on a racetrack. 91-92s have more lift throttle oversteer than just about any car I've ever driven. The first time a beginner loses confidence and lifts or worse yet, brakes on a high speed corner, they're probably going for a very fast ride they're no longer in control of. Lots of fun for an experienced driver to drive, but not a good learning car IMO.

Eric
 

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Eric said:
I agree MR2s are a blast to drive, but they're one of the last cars I'd recommend for a beginner on a racetrack. 91-92s have more lift throttle oversteer than just about any car I've ever driven. The first time a beginner loses confidence and lifts or worse yet, brakes on a high speed corner, they're probably going for a very fast ride they're no longer in control of. Lots of fun for an experienced driver to drive, but not a good learning car IMO.

Eric
I can see why it might not be the safest learner car but what I was getting at is that it can keep you from picking up bad habits while learning the basics. Like I said, I could be sloppy in my ZTT as it was such an easy car to drive hard. Lift in a turn, no problem; lift while cresting a hill, no problem; brake mid-turn, no problem. Some cars are so forgiving you can pick up bad habits pretty easily and not even realize it. It wasn't until I got the MR2 that I realized some habits I had picked up. If you frequent tracks with lots of runoff room (like VIR) the MR2 could be used as a learner car. I agree though, it might be better off as a second track car that will help you improve on anything you learned in an easier car to drive. I just thought by driving a hard car like the MR2 to begin with you could avoid having to relearn anything later on.
 

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It's also a rag top or no top but this reminded me that just yesterday I saw on speed channel, maybe Motor Trend news or one of those shows, a brief test report on a new Caterham 7. Those still seem reasonably priced to me and they must be a blast to drive only weighing in around 1200lbs with around 150hp unless you pump up the engine even higher.

Last time I did a DE event at Pocono, one of the instructors was blasting around in one of these and I asked if it was possible to get a ride which he gave me. A few laps around the North Course setup ...very fun and you can drag your knuckles on the ground as you drive ;)
 
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