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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In road racing they have manufacturer supported spec classes where everything on the car is controlled. Spec RX-7, Spec Miata, and spec racer ford are tremendously competitive classes where you can theoretically keep the expenses down as there is not an arms race to get the most horsepower. So why not a spec neon, focus or Golf class, where engine mods, suspension, tires, Trans, and wt are all strictly controlled? Perhaps we could even get one of the manufacturers behind it? This might cut down on the expenses enough to allow more people to rally and create a really competitive class.
 

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I think it would be great, but I think a sanctioning body (or other entity) would need to "jump start" it by building at least four cars to the spec, leasing or selling them at a bargain with the condition that they enter all of the national events, and possibly having a high profile guest driver to drive one on occasion.
This would inspire more competitors to try the class, just writing a rule for a spec class, and expecting people to invest and show up might not work.

Any spec class should be written so that it is able to survive / thrive in the absence of manufacture support, even if is originally supported by a manfacture. (It must be affordable)
 

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I think it would be great, but I also believe it would necessarily involve the support of a manufacturer (the thought of a spec SRT-4 gives me goosebumps).
 

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This is something that has been argued/discussed to death around these parts.....

I want this badly, but I don't think that anyone will ever agree on a car/rules package. One example was when a few started talking about spec Golf and started arguing on whether it should be a MkII or MkIII shell. If VW guys can't agree on a VW spec class do you actually think people will agree to run a Neon or Focus?

I think that too many people are way to worried about the hardware they compete in and therefore are always looking for a way to legislate the class in a way that gives them an advantage. It would be like if I was championing a spec Neon class when I already have 2 cars, tons of parts, and have been tweaking them for years. The attraction of spec is the potential for competition but many can't see past the type of car that would form it's foundation.

One idea that I liked was to have a spec Impreza 2.2 class. Since the majority of rallyists want to find themselves in a fancy Turbo AWD as soon as possible this would give them an opp to build a nice shell that could be competitive relatively cheaply and pretty easy on parts. The low hp should keep them out of the woods as much as possible and when they get bored with it a WRX/STi swap isn't too far from their reach. Plus they can paint the car blue with yellow stickers and look just like the "pros" ;) I think that this might be the only way to "sell" a spec class to the average US rally competitor. I still think it won't happen until some people start running it on their own...

-C
 

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>I think it would be great, but I also believe it would
>necessarily involve the support of a manufacturer (the thought
>of a spec SRT-4 gives me goosebumps).

Spec SRT-4 would be too expensive for the grassroots competitor. It needs to be much cheaper to get enough competition to make a real spec class. When you start getting well over 10k to prep a car it will eliminate many people quickly. I would like to see something where a running car could be bought for under 4k, and could be made safe and decently competitive for 10k or less. I think you would start to see some more competition and some good battles if this could happen.

-Colin
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
While a spec SRT-4 gives me goose bumps as well, I think it would be too pricey on the initial purchase as well. Spec Miatas are about $12000 and this is a very popular road race class. So I was thinking some where in that price range complete would make it affordable to the masses. Mark II VW's may just be too old to get factory support. While factory supplied cars would be great, I think the Spec Miatas factory support is limited to wholesale prices on parts and suspensions. That might be enough to make it attractive.


Colin what are the generations of neons? and are they consistant in the engines throughout the years? Spec Neon could dovetail into upgrading your car into Spec SRT-4 as you suggested with the Subarus. AWD brings with it the added expense of more drive train to maintian/break.

Anyway just stuff I have been thinking about during my fits of rally withdrawel as I ponder if and what new car to build.
 

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1st gen Neons were 95-99 and came with 2 engine and at least 3 manual tranny options. But you can get a decent 1st gen DOHC engine or 3.94 tranny extremely cheaply. 2nd gens had a few different engine options and then the SRT came out.

I don't think that there are enough SRT-4s to make it an easy car to get cheaply and to find a motor upgrade. And you will be competing with the street ricers to get those motors and trannies. I'm not entirely sure that the SRT-4 tranny drops into a non SRT shell, and almost positive it won't fit in a first gen shell. And with that motor you need/want the trans.

I would love to have an SRT-4 (and have already researched flood/accident writeoffs) but don't think it is the best option. I want a cheap-o class with a ton of competitors and a bunch of slow cars getting the wheels driven off of them.

I don't think 2.2 Imprezas are going to be breaking any parts. Subarus seem to eat mostly trannies and that motor isn't going to tax even the POS Subaru 5mt. I think Zimmer and the 2.5RS crew would agree that the NA cars aren't very high maintenance. I'm looking at a mid 90s Impreza as my next car unless a spec class is in place before 2007.

-C
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I don't care what I drive as long as I rally and have a lot of people in my class. The Great thing about group 2 was all the VW's at an event. I think the way to get a spec class going would be to get a group of people looking to build a new cars and approach a manufacturer and a sanctioning body for support. I am looking to build a car, and have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks looking at SRT-4's, they seem like a great way to go, but are expensive on the initial purchase price. So if we can find some other folks at the same stage I am in, that might be a good start.

Preston
 

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The problem with a spec Neon class would be that many would not even consider it based on the looks of the car. Cheesy and lame excuse I admit, but I will never catch myself driving a Neon, which I have always considered to be a total chick car, no matter how much power or cheap it was, unless I was being paid. No offense if you like them.

Spec Subaru is the best spec class in the US available. Old GC8 and Legacys can be had for cheap. I bought one last winter for $1000. My two friends and fellow rallyists Aaron McConnell and Steve Bis decided they wanted GC8 Imprezas this week. Aaron bought one last night for $1000. Steve's picking his $975 one up next week. Lots of them in the junkyard here in Denver and their fairly cheap to maintain. There are alway 2-3 Legacys in the same range available here on craigslist. Oh, and off the shelf rally bits galore.
 

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I've researched SRT-4's a lot...to say the least! An SRT-4 drivetrain will bolt into a base Neon shell pretty easily.

I've seen high mileage neons (2000 and up) go for under $2k for a clean titled car. You can also find complete drivetrains on ebay for under $3K..(there's two on there right now!)

Hotbits makes a gravel suspension for them....$1600 +-.....so you get the picture...it could be done for around $13K if it was a "do it yourself" car with only basic amenities. The nicer the car gets, the more expensive it is! I know there are $25K plus spec miata's out there!


Andrew Sutherland
UniversalRally.com
 

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>The problem with a spec Neon class would be that many would
>not even consider it based on the looks of the car. Cheesy
>and lame excuse I admit, but I will never catch myself driving
>a Neon, which I have always considered to be a total chick
>car, no matter how much power or cheap it was, unless I was
>being paid. No offense if you like them.


Yeah...they're girlie looking! Especially when they're first on the road!




We'll definitely never have to worry about you driving one!!


Andrew Sutherland
UniversalRally.com
 

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I considered a Neon before buying a cheap Impreza. The Sube won out because of potential, Production, Gp2 or 5 and Open, all affordable (sorta) and lot's of "stuff" available. One thing to consider with a spec class and factory support is the age of the cars. I was talking to Nissan years ago, had a 510 and good results. Their response was " we market new cars, not old 510s " I told him people bought new cars from the history of old 510s..he didn't buy into that :-( . Any real factory support would have to be current generation cars, whatever brand. So Mike is right , it needs to be a stand alone class and hope for support later. It would be a neat class though. Gene
 

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Can't argue with the cost effectiveness of them. Nor with the straight fact that a newer car is going to be easier to get sponsorship with generally. Maybe I should have built a Neon. Then I wouldn't have to worry about being sad if I wreck the car.

I think the Focus is another newer car option. We've talked about that and the possibility of developing rally specific parts for them in the future.

Or, people can just realize that newer cars may get you more sponsorship, but will cost more to build in the long run and usually don't have as many rally parts available (excluding Subaru and Mitsu obviously). Sponsorship shouldn't be what makes or breaks your rally career (unless of course your name is Travis P). If you can't do it self-funded initially then you probably can't do it at all. How many years did it take Burmeister to get as much support from Mazda. That's why, instead of talking about relatively expensive street car spec classes there's more discussion and interest in Group F, a class with a philosophy that is much better suited to US rally than a spec class.
 

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Another issue with a spec class could be the size of our country. We have to travel so far to run the natinal series ( either brand ). You'd have to have a dozen cars across the nation to get 3 or 4 at any one event. I'll bet 10 spec cars at every event may attract some factory support, but sales would have to reflect that. If factory support were a consideration then the Focus may be the car. Good sales, good reception with the younger crowd and a decent car to boot. Also has the association of WRC.
 

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As much of a fan of Dodge that I am, I would vote for the Focus for a 2WD spec car in general, out of the current crop of cars. I have heard that the Neon is going to dissappear from the Dodge product line soon anyway; if true, that by itself would point away from the Neon.

As for support, I would expect Dodge to be more open, based in past history. They did come up with the Neon ACR idea. However, that was not a 'cheap car' appraoch by any means. One got the car with better bits and stipped down, but still paid a new car price range.

With the current state of affairs, and with the vast majority of cars built and rallies raced being self funded, I don't see a spec car taking off like a balzing meteor. As has been stated, if it's not a new car, it won't get factory backing. And if it is a new car, building one will typically be in the $12k range and up (I suspect more), with the winning car being a lot pricier. I don't see the private funding being out there to build a lot of these.

Mark B.
 

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Focus:

pro-Ford Racing Parts has off the shelf goodies for Zetec to make a workable G2 car. New car has Duratec. Accepts an MTX75 trans (strength/gear selection).

con- rear suspension has dramatic camber change over long travel and is poor for rally use. heavy.

notes-car is done in 2006/7... short life for current body style.


Neon:

pro-SRT makes lots of power. SXT can make decent power with some parts. Struts available from KW. There is some knowledge of setup available.

con- minivan like wheelbase (105 inches!). heavy. not much choice of gearing.

notes-car is done 2005 to be replaced by Caliber.


Caliber:

pro-Mitsu lancer platform (pro or con?)

con-tall/high cg. heavy.

notes-new model...if mopar cares about rallying in the future, this would be the car to push a class with.


Protege:

pro- engine works for G2. Some parts available from WC program. Suspension/drivetrain overbuilt/strong except rear arms...can be easily replaced.

con- rear susp. arms. little choice of gearing without spending lots. heavy. long overhang.

notes- not current model anymore, but Mazda has a history of helping spec classes for non current models (Spec Miata).


Mazda3:

pro- MZR engine (better flowing Duratec). Looks like a rally car already. :)

con- Focus style suspension. heavy. Long overhangs. same gearbox issues as Protege.


VW mk2/3 Golf:

pro-alot already out there in some form. Proven shell. power available lighter than most new stuff. Good handling. decent gear selection. decent suspension design for function. Fun.

con- weak suspension parts for durability. OLD.

notes- you'll never get man. support for this one.


Honda civic

pro- lotsa go fast parts and carbon fiber hoods that weigh 30 lbs.

con- everything needs reinforcement. suspension design funky.


I don't know much about the offerings from Kia, Hyundai, or the Cobalt.

If you want to do it on your own, do old Golves. (Had something in the works for a CENDIV Golf championship years ago when we had 14 CENDIV golves. Never saw it thru.)

If you want to have a man. support you, that is your first step. Find the manufacturer who wants to support you. The rest can be figured out once a manufacturer and potential budget are in place. Pretty much anything can be made into a decent G2/G5 car if you throw enough engineering, $, and development into it. So you need to find out who can offer you the engineering, $, and development to make it happen. The rest is just spitting out car names.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for the analysis of possible cars Eric. What did you think of Colin B's idea of a 2.2 NA sube? Do they still make it?

I was thinking maybe a different first step would be finding a group of people who are serious about building a spec car, then create a spec for each manufaturer and then approach each manufacturer and see if we get any traction. How many cars would it take to convince a manufacturer to support a class? Again I don't think Mazda buys or provides Spec Miatas for anyone they just provide discounted parts. So we would not be asking for free stuff just discounted stuff which I think would be a much easier sell. We could approach the component manufacturers as well(suspensions, brakes, tires etc.). We would need a sanctioning body to support it as well.

Preston
 

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>How many cars
>would it take to convince a manufacturer to support a class?

Hi Preston,

It could be as little as 1. I don't mean to be facetious, but the question that I think needs to be answered first is: What is one going to offer the manufacturer for this support. Even if they just provide parts support, it is a program that needs internal work and support, and internal expenditure of money by the manufacturer. (Setting up a parts program through dealers would easily cost 10's of $k or even close to a hundred $k in terms of internal set up.). Convincing the marketing department that they need to go internal and fight for funding requires that they see a marketing result.

I agree that sacanctinoing body invovlement is needed, and I would think that the effort starts through them. A sanctioning body offers a lot more than a group of drivers/owners. Such a group going to the sanctioning body is good, as it offers the body a good basis on which make internal commitments to the effort of selling to manufacurers.

Mark B.

PS: Preston, check your PM's.
 

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>I agree that sacanctinoing body invovlement is needed, and I
>would think that the effort starts through them. A sanctioning
>body offers a lot more than a group of drivers/owners. Such a
>group going to the sanctioning body is good, as it offers the
>body a good basis on which make internal commitments to the
>effort of selling to manufacurers.

While the involvement - or at least wholehearted approval - of a sanctioning body is important, I believe the involvement of a number of teams - with their checkbooks out - ready, willing and able to compete in the class is just as important. Various spec classes have been floated over the years and many have failed because the competitors didn't support them. Witness the Dodge-powered spec racer class SCCA tried some years ago...competitors hated it, and it failed miserably.

It also strikes me that there are conflicting goals in this thread. One is a spec class to make rally available to small teams on a budget. The other is a spec class to encourage manufacturer involvement and sponsorship. These are probably conflicting goals, based on what's been said here...although somebody more ingenious than I MIGHT come up with a scheme that does both.

Bruce
 
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