Finding people to share in the fun... and finances
Putting together a good team may be the difference between a long term hobby or frustrating short term venture. As a team captain, you have the responsibility of making sure everyone wants to keep coming back for more, without dragging yourself into financial ruin.
If you have a group of friends/drivers that will be involved in the project from the ground up, you may be able to split the cost of the entire build and the materials for your first event. This could be the cheapest and most fun way to get started. Or it could be the end of friendships. Make sure everyone agrees to their financial commitments and labour responsibilities ahead of time so there are no surprises. A team of four drivers can have dramatically different views on how the program is run.
A more costly, but likely longer term solution is to buy/build your own car, and have paid drivers. If you are operating on your own, you will likely need every set of hands you can get at the track. Adding the cost of the weekend and dividing it by the number of drivers will ensure that everyone has an equal stake in the success of the weekend and should all carry the responsibilities required to make it to the end.
If you would like your racing paid for, and maybe have some buddies that just want to wrench, you can alternatively provide "arrive and drive" seats for an additional fee. In this case, your drivers would be more hands off, and it will be your sole responsibility to get the car to the end of the weekend. This may be a tough option to provide in your first few events until you have proven your car to be reliable and safe. If you can get over that hurdle, it will be the most likely option to go racing without breaking the bank.
It would be advisable to make sure that everyone that gets in your car understands the risks of doing so. Regardless of your team format, everyone needs to understand that racing can be dangerous, and will be expensive. A release of liability in case of injury or death is your primary concern, followed by an agreement to pay for damages to the car. If you have any other expectations of your drivers, this is the time to make them clear.
If you want to go racing, but don’t want to get your hands dirty, there are teams that provide arrive and drive seats for the weekend. This is a good way to get out and enjoy the experience without making a long term investment or having equipment to maintain. Depending on the team's level of experience and the services available, the price structure will vary quite a bit. You will find small teams that will be more affordable but expect you to offer a hand, or more full service operations that will take care of everything at a full service price.
Before you commit to an arrive and drive package, make sure you fully understand what you are liable for throughout the event. You will be responsible for crash damage. It doesn’t matter who’s fault you think it is. If you wreck it, you bought it. Generally speaking, mechanical failures due to regular wear and tear will be the responsibility of the car owner and worked into the price ahead of time. However, some teams have clauses in place to cover the cost of failures due to abuse. Whether you are monitored via GoPro or data logging, if the owner determines that your missed shift and subsequent overrev grenaded an engine, you may be held responsible for that as well. The bottom line is that an arrive and drive seat is the quickest and easiest way to get involved, but whoever is running that car has to cover their costs. Don’t sign up unless you can afford the worst case scenario.
Some additional notes from Ultraray Motorsports:
Joining an arrive and drive team. There are many teams offering paid opportunities to race in their endurance car. This is a great opportunity for drivers to get involved in the sport without the prospect of owning, maintaining and organizing all the moving parts to get out on track. Choosing a team comes down to a number of key factors:
-Familiarity of the platform – Front Wheel Drive vs. Rear Wheel Drive and ability to navigate the horsepower to weight ratio.
-Comfort within the cockpit – if you’re tall and the vehicle is known for being a smaller interior where your head is touching portions of the cage or it is uncomfortable and could lead to claustrophobia it most certainly will be a long stint.
-Age of Platform – Not all vehicles are prepared equally. The satisfaction of a cost-effective ride could be directly related to the age of the platform and it’s reliability or lack there of. The old saying – you get what you pay for could lead you to have a very short stint or none at all. We all invest a lot of time and effort to make it to the track and want to get our time in the car.