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So You Want to Be a Dirt Track Racer

December 04, 2014

So you want to be a dirt track racer? Based on my experience in the racing world, I've put together some advice that I hope you'll find helpful.

Start off by taking a course at a driving school.
This will be the quickest way to learn the basics from a professional and get quality track time, in a controlled environment, without putting yourself or those around you in unnecessary danger. The cost of a driving school will pay for itself in the money you save by having less accidents. It will also give you a big jump on the learning curve, which will transition into impressing more people. If you're looking to get into sprint car racing or midget car racing, I recommend checking out http://www.kruseman.com and talking to Cory. If it's another form of racing, just ask some of the veterans in your intended racing series and see who they recommend.

Respect the veterans in your series.
I know you want to set the world on fire, but don't go out there and rough up the veteran drivers trying to make a name for yourself. You need them to help you with advice, maybe spare parts occasionally or a helping hand for a quick repair, and for them to talk positively about you. Even if you're starting out with your own car, it's likely you'll eventually want to drive for another team owner. If you develop a bad reputation, it's not as likely for that to happen. So be aggressive, but do it without being disrespectful and slamming into the other cars. The simple goal should be to eventually out-drive them.

Keep a clear head.
If you're a racer, there will very likely come a time when you're involved in an on track incident. Do your best to resolve the issue with professionalism. If it was your fault, own up to it and apologize. And don't go to the internet and cut the other driver down, it will only make you look bad. If the other driver is cutting you down on the internet, talk to someone you trust to give you good advice on how to respond professionally before you give any kind of response. However, the best thing may be to give no response at all and let others stand up for you. If you let it get to you, they win. So, keep a clear head and focus more on constantly improving yourself than worrying about those trying to cut you down.

Develop business relationships.
It's likely you're going to need sponsors at some point. So start developing relationships with businesses. If you own a business, start going to chamber of commerce meetings. By becoming a part of that business network (or some other business network), you may develop relationships with businesses who could be in a position to help you out. Also, don't immediately ask for sponsorship, because they may just put a wall up immediately. Take some time to build relationships and get to know the business owners, then try to think of a way you can help them with exposure or selling their product through your racing program. If they see results in your motorsports marketing partnership, they may even turn a smaller sponsorship into a larger one. It all starts with meeting the right people though, so put yourself in a position to do that.

If your goal is to move up to a major series like NASCAR...
This could probably be a whole article in itself, but here are a few quick thoughts. Don't stay in one place too long if at all possible. If you won a track championship, move up to a more competitive series if you're able to afford it. Mr. NASCAR team owner isn't going to see that you've won 5 track championships and be like, "I need to sign that driver!" They pay attention to the racers who excel in top series with the toughest competition. With that said, don't move up before you're ready either. And when you do move up, be sure you're in equipment capable of allowing you to showcase your ability. It doesn't have to be brand new equipment to be competitive either. If you're driving for your own team, keep an eye out for race cars for sale on this site's racing classifieds area and you may find great deals on winning race cars or team sellouts that allow you to get great equipment at a good price.

To buy or rent-a-ride...
I know a lot of people knock ride rentals, but this is a question you should always consider. When you start to figure the costs involved with owning your own team and the learning curve you speed through by driving for an established and successful racing program, then rentals may not sound like such a bad thing. You might even be able to work out a little lower price if you're willing to show up and work on the cars during the week. I'm not saying this is the best option for everyone, but I think it's something many racers (especially younger ones moving up through ranks) should at least consider and price out. Since my personal business relationships have been in the sprint car and midget car world, I recommend contacting Cory Kruseman (http://www.kruseman.com) for you west-coasters, and Keith Kunz Motorsports or Tim Clauson (http://www.driveamidget.com) for you east-coasters. If it's another form of racing, you've probably already ran across some quality rental programs that you could look into and consider all your options with to decide what's best for your particular situation.

And last but not least, be ready to work hard both at and away from the track.
In order to have a car capable of winning, it will take hours of work on the car during the week. Whether it's finding new ways to get a few extra horsepower, to transfer weight better, or tweak the body to give you an aerodynamic advantage, those who put in the extra effort will usually be the ones running up front at the track.

If you've found this post helpful, please be sure to share it with your friends on Facebook, tweet it to your Twitter followers, and share on your other social networks! Also, be sure to visit the Racing Classifieds area to buy or sell your dirt track racing equipment!

About the Author
Steve Elliott - Owner of DirtTrackTrader.com and ElliottBrand Web Designs
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