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I wanna drive fast too!
October 12, 2008 12:09 PM   Subscribe

How would one become a professional race car driver, specifically NHRA?

I'm asking this purely out of curiosity, as I thought about it the other day while watching Ashley Force on TV.

Is it possible for somebody without a lot of money to begin with, or without "inside ties" to work their way into professional racing? I understand that there are amateur racing leagues and people work their way up the food chain, but how would you start?
posted by C17H19NO3 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
 
YOu start by tricking out your car and racing on Wednesday nights.
posted by notsnot at 12:41 PM on October 12, 2008


YOu start by tricking out your car and racing on Wednesday nights.

Or you help a friend with theirs. Unless you're rich, the way into the driver's seat in virtually all motorsport comes via some kind of tech affiliation.
posted by philip-random at 1:00 PM on October 12, 2008


Unless you're rich, the way into the driver's seat in virtually all motorsport comes via some kind of tech affiliation.

All racing requires money. Either yours, or from someone you know or can cajole into bankrolling you. It doesn't matter how good you are, if you have no cash, you are not going to get into Professional racing. Conversely, with enough money, astonishingly talent-free drivers can get pretty far at the surprise of many. Once the (relatively basic) licensing elements are taking care of so that you are nominally qualified to drive the appropriate cars (talent ignored for a moment), you have to establish yourself in the lower classes of your chosen end target style of racing. There are recognised 'channels' of progression for most styles of racing, and choosing the wrong feeder/junior/amateur series will do you no good in getting taken seriously for progression.

Generally speaking (NHRA is not my field, but it seems to follow the same vein as all other racing) once you have got enough money to start in a feeder series, you try and win the championship and gain experience. Once you have done that (or got close) you may be able to attract enough backing to move up a level and repeat the same thing. Rinse, pay and repeat.

In short? Money. It's all about the money. It can be played off to some degree by other elements to greater or lesser amounts by natural talent (as mentioned, this will never be enough on its own) or 'Unique circumstances' (attraction to sponsors - ie Latin American in otherwise not represented sport for that ethnic region, or being a girl, or being a son/daughter of someone famous etc., etc).

YOu start by tricking out your car and racing on Wednesday nights.

This will get you drag racing. It is not necessarily any help at all in becoming a professional race car driver'. You need to spend your money wisely, as getting to the point of being paid to do it is a very long and expensive journey.
posted by Brockles at 2:07 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Start attending SCCA events and start making friends. The NHRA holds many similar local events, too.

And of course, there's always racing school.

YOu start by tricking out your car and racing on Wednesday nights.

Rather, one would start by tricking out their car and making friends with other people that trick out their cars, which would lead to making more friends and gaining more information, and so on and so on...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:07 PM on October 12, 2008


Frank Hawley's drag racing school has trained many successful NHRA drivers.
posted by Exchequer at 5:10 PM on October 12, 2008


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