The Mustang Forum for Track & Racing Enthusiasts

Taking your Mustang to an open track/HPDE event for the first time? Do you race competitively? This forum is for you! Log in to remove most ads.

  • Welcome to the Ford Mustang forum built for owners of the Mustang GT350, BOSS 302, GT500, and all other S550, S197, SN95, Fox Body and older Mustangs set up for open track days, road racing, and/or autocross. Join our forum, interact with others, share your build, and help us strengthen this community!

Track Car opinions

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

I've got a LS that I've done a few autocrosses with. However, I think I want to do something with more track time. However, I'm just not going to take a chance with the LS on the track. I've been looking for a 350z or S2000 as they are competitive in Autocross and I can build them up for track days.

However, I've just not had any luck finding what I want. Also, I keep having issues with the idea of modifying them for the track. Also, even thought the cars I'm looking at are 10k, if you go into a barrier, your only option is a junk yard or dealership to buy parts and most likely to a body shop that's accustoming to overcharging insurance companies to do work.

I've ran across a few Nascar cars and it got me to thinking.

Those cars are tube and sheet metal. If you damage the sheet metal it's going to be a lot cheaper to find a fabricator to patch up a panel than it is a production car.

In researching the cars run 15x10 wheels, so right there, tires are cheaper. Also, I found a parts guy who told me he could get take offs after races for somewhere around $100 a set. That sure the heck beats $1500 for a set of Hoosiers.

I live in Nascar country and parts for these cars apparently can be found for pennies on the $ to what we pay for parts that go onto cars like our Boss.

We can play with the car's weight and probably get the cars down to around 2,700 to 2,800 lbs with the same width wheels.

These cars are pushing 700 to 800 hp instead of 444. From researching they have adjustable rev limiters so if you set redline down to 7,500 to 8,000, you should get a lot of wear out of the engines versus Nascar teams who are pushing them up to 9k.

The cars are a lot safer.

There also appears to be Vintage Nascar racing series and a lot of them are on road courses.

The down side is running 108 octane gas which isn't cheap. But I'd rather pay $8 in gas for a track day than burn up a $1,500 set of tires.

I had some people I've tried to talk to snicker about it but the more I think about it, getting one of these cars to me seems to make the most logical sense from a financial standpoint.

I'm just curious if anybody on here who has a lot of track time has ever researched this or knows of anyone that has. I'm just about ready to pull the trigger on one but trying to do a santity check to see if anybody that has done this alot has anything to add I might be missing.



Because racecar.
Arizona, USA
I've had a few friends go the "stock car" route and it's not as cheap as it seems on the surface; the tires are cheaper but you go through them very quickly, the car might be a hodge-podge so you're left to sort out their project, etc.

TBH your best bet for cheap fun would be to turn an E30 or E36 BMW into a track car; they are readily available, and much lighter than the S197s, so consumables like tires and brake pads will go a lot farther; and all the sizes are generally smaller (aka cheaper) than the S197 stuff as well.

Grant 302

basic and well known psychic
I doubt the NASCAR route is cheaper in the long run.

How about getting another Mustang that you're willing to modify? If you get any S197 GT or V6, you can still use the same track wheels and tires when you want to use your LS.

My track car is my GT, and I've considered getting a V6 as it would be way cheaper on the consumables, gas, pads, rotors and tires. But between my two current cars, I will share the set of rotors, pads, tranny scoop, wheels and tires for track days.

Good luck on your search!
First, thanks guys for the response. I've thought about the things you've stated. It still comes down to you are purchasing a production car and if you want parts you can try and find second hand parts on ebay to save a few $ or you're going to have to contact a store and pay retail.

Tires, I can go through 15 sets to equal the cost of one set of Hoosiers.

I've thought about an old S197 but again, a used one is going to cost more than I'll put into a full blown race car with no track time or abuse on it.

If you start taking a production car and having a roll cage welded in you can kill the value of the car. Again I'm thinking more of wrecking the car. If you're racing and pushing it, you're going to wreck. Just how it is. If you're not going around or losing control, you're not pushing the edge. I will do it in a $14k sheet metal car. I'm not going to do it in a 50k product mustang.

Plus if you the accident somehow ends up on Car Fax, then you're taking even more of a hit.

Honestly my biggest concern is the longevity of a 700 hp engine. I don't want to be rebuilding one of these ever couple of months. But I could always go find a 350 around here and go with a more modest build.

There are things like I want window nets for running on the track. Around here they make you roll down the windows and again I don't want to mess up a production car with welding in a roll cage. I buy and sell quite a few cars and if I do that, I just kill the value of a S197 car.

Also, just look at the freak accident Mark Martin had last weekend when he slid and the edge of the wall. No way I want to be in a production car without a cage doing that. Maybe the odds are low but if I can put the odds in my favor, then I'm going to try.

There is actually a built 1996 mustang on ebay for $8,500 I seriously considered. But just the cost of fixing damage on it led me back to a old cup car.

Plus again, nascar teams around here buy in bulk apparently and don't use everything they buy. When it's time to move to new product, they dump new parts on the market and they are cheap compared to what you go purchase stuff for production cars. No going on ebay and wasting 2 or 3 weeks trying to get a deal on 2nd hand items.

Finally, I can do work and I know people that can help me setup a car so I'm not worried about having to turn a wrench or two. I'd rather do that than spend 16k on a S197 that I have to turn around and sale for $10k after I've tracked it. Also, I don't want to have to go to FRPP and pay retail for suspension, or any other parts that I'll be lucky to get 40% out of when I'm done with them.

Again, thanks for the feedback. I'm going to give it a try. I'll be glad to share my experience as I go with anybody that ever has questions.

At worse case I see it being a wash and I'll get to own a 700hp race car I'm out tearing up the track in.

Thanks again everyone, I really appreciate the input of you guys on this site.


Because racecar.
Arizona, USA
I wasn't suggesting that you would be able to re-sell the vehicle as a street car--if you crash it, you salvage what parts you can, scrap it, and find a new chassis to work with. E30 and E36 BMWs are plentiful and relatively cheap; if you write it off on the track, nobody is going to miss it.

If you're hell bent on a stock car, and you want 700ish HP, look up Schwanke engines up in Minnesota. They build Chevy LSX engines that push 850hp on E85, 700ish on Pump gas. Not cheap either though, one of their turnkey engines with EFI will run you $15-20K. As far as longevity, that's all in the tune, get a motor capable for 800hp and only tune it to 650ish so it's not super-stressed all the time.

However having tons of HP is not the key to really being fast :)
I don't need 700. Thats just what they have. As I think I said that's the biggest concern. Bmw, I've never seen any cheap parts. Probably a spec miata makes the most sense. But I don't care for them. I went ahead and put a deposit down. I appreciate these responses but they are things I've thought out. That's actually what I was hoping for. Again thanks for the input. Makes me feel better about the decision. However it turns out to be a bust I'll share here. Thanks again.
Thanks again Drew. I think some things are getting missed in online transalation. I really hope I'm not offending you because I am/have taken your comments into consideration. I'm trying not to write a 3 page post with points and counter points I've put myself through on this thought process. Again you're feedback was extremely helpful.

Engine longevity, I've heard a lot of comments and here's my opinion with limited experience. I think the cup cars are rebuilding because they are turning 9,000 RPMs for 3 hours at a time. I'm hoping if I set the rev limiter back to 7,500ish and I'm only out doing 60 second runs or 20 minute track session and keeping the temps down I'll won't have issue with the engines. (Of course there are no guarantees.)

But, then I've had people throw at me when they are pushing 2hp a sq inch, you have to loose up the tension on the valve springs while the car is sitting, possibly have devices that heat the oil up before starting etc. I'm hoping that's not the case as that will be a PITA.

I'm getting ready to find out real soon though. I'm going to give it a try. :)


#LS-378 - So many Porsche's, so little time....
ArizonaGT said:
I've had a few friends go the "stock car" route and it's not as cheap as it seems on the surface; the tires are cheaper but you go through them very quickly, the car might be a hodge-podge so you're left to sort out their project, etc.

TBH your best bet for cheap fun would be to turn an E30 or E36 BMW into a track car; they are readily available, and much lighter than the S197s, so consumables like tires and brake pads will go a lot farther; and all the sizes are generally smaller (aka cheaper) than the S197 stuff as well.

+1 on AZ's comment. My son just bought a beautiful E36 yesterday, 1999 Dinan M3 for cheap. Great track car, very reliable and built like a tank. There are tons of them available, many all track prepped. If you strip them down to under 3000 lbs they go like the devil too.
Thanks Pete.

I went ahead and made my decision. I had an opportunity and after the couple of comments I went ahead and took the plunge.

However, to make this thread helpful for others, when you say cheap what kind of money are you talking about?

I'll ended up with 14k into the car I'm purchasing.

Specs -
Hutcherson and Pagen front steer,
3/4" drop, 1" inset front snout chassis with truck arm rear suspenision.
Fresh 358 cu. in. NASCAR type engine,
Yates SVO ALUMINUM heads,
SVO block,
Sonny Bryant Crank,
Carrillo Rods,
JE Pistons,
Crane Roller Cam,
Jesel Rockers,
5 stage dry sump system,
Stainless Steel Headers,
dynoed at over 700 HP.
Car has oil cooler, valve spring oil squiter cooler rear end gear cooler.
Auto Meter Gauges,
9 in. Ford rear with a Detroit Locker,
Speedway Eng. Superspeed Floater with 31 spline axles.
Tex Racing T 10 trans with Magniseum case and tailshaft and Hi-Nickle Gears with Hurst Super Shifter.
22 Gallon Fuel Cell with Richardson Dry Brake.
Wilwood Brakes all 4 wheels.

I'm getting an extra set of tires and wheels. An extra drive shaft, a box of brake pads. The car will be setup with camber and caster for a road course for me. (I can't remember the extra items that's coming with it.)

Also, the car has roll cage, race seat, harnesses. All hoses are braided with stainless steel and covered with heat coverings. We're talking about a race car that needs nothing to hit the track.

The car right now is setup to weigh 3,200 lbs with a driver and 22 gallons of fuel. However, about 300lbs of lead is in the frame and can be removed. You run 5 gallons of gas and you’re looking at about 2,764 lbs on 15x10" wheels.

Car was tested twice has been garaged since.

You’re talking about a Ford 9" rear end with Detroit lockers with quick change capabilities.

The key here is, you crash the BMW, or production cars, where do you go to buy parts and panels?

Where do you go to fix the damage?

You want to set the car up for an oval track, a road course or have the option to do both, where do you get the suspension parts?

Where do you go get sway bars, control arms or even a set of springs?

I like the fact of how open and easy to work on a car like this is compared to a production car.

How much are you looking at for a full car roll cage integrated into the chassis and the ability to have a window net? Personally I don’t want to be on a track without a net and no side glass.

Then if you do all this to a BMW/any production car, what's it worth when you go to sale it? I'm not looking for a throw away car that I dump money in and it's worthless when I'm done.

I've even thought about this from angles of going to businesses and seeing if there is potential advertising/marketing $ by renting the car out to them for weekend events or setting up displays for them at events I go too. I know this is tough right now but I think there is a remote chance with the cars I'm talking about. Not with something like a BMW E360. (Actually the Boss is a terrific car for this.)

(As I said I've put a lot of thought in this and beat it to death. This thread was just to see if anybody had anything major I haven't thought of.)

The key here is I'm looking for a pure track car that's 100% about performance and safety. (I know I could find a better road car but this seems a nice option for what I’m after)Then next a setup that's the most cost effective to for doing as much tracking as possible.

For me I'm not going to spend $1,500 on tires for a track session if I don't have to. At the same time I'd prefer not to have to sacrifice traction for longevity.

I know some of the things I'm planning on may not turn out exactly the way I expect but still. I will say though even if it ends up be to where the cost is the same of me running a pure race car versus some type of production car, personally I’ll take a pure race car.

Also, one thing I left out is I've been reading about some vintage cup car racing on the West coast and I think there are some of those going on around here as well, so have the option to do that is yet another good option for to have.

Good input everyone and again thank you so much.

I'll try to keep this thread updated with my experiences. :)
P.S. People I run with have tried to talk me into a Spec Miata and from a cost standpoint they seem to be a very good option. However, I don't care for convertibles and I want something with power. As Arizona pointed out, I know a lot of HP doesn't mean fast but personally I like the challenge learning to be smooth enough to be fast with the HP.

Grant 302

basic and well known psychic
I hear you about not running Spec Miata (for the lack of power) or *anything* BMW (for the cost). But even though your decision is made, I don't think you have to get into a S197 for $16k. If you go back to '05-'07, a base GT can be had *easily* under $12k...maybe something decent under $10k. And with those bodies, you won't lose much if you sell it modified as a race car. If you buy track day insurance, then you're also not at much risk if you ball-it-up.

I'll follow your thread with interest...please post up your costs as you go!
Spec E30, if it is running in your area, is about as cheap as you can go. Mine has 6kish into it other than consumables, and all I need to finish it is the front half of the cage ($1500 for a really nice one with NASCAR/Xbars), fire bottle, nets, and a few minor things like a kill switch and running tubing for the brake ducts. You can get parts really cheap from the junkyard or from places like RealOEM online, I run $11 rotors, mpg is pretty good, it handles really well other than a bit of understeer because camber is capped for the spec series. It has been 100% reliable other than the tranny leaking from the breather but I just need to attach an overflow bottle. Tires last 3 years and are about $600 for the spec tire if you buy them new (they won't last as long once I get my comp license and start competing). It is very streetable, I used to drive it a lot before getting the Boss. And in the NorCal region, you can still win on a junkyard motor as opposed to Spec Miata where people who want to win have 10k+ just in the motor each year.

I may change to a Legends racer because my bro likes them and we can run it as a team, but the E30 is a great track car and a great learning platform. It isn't fast though, but someone else may be interested in one. If you are not going Spec racing, then you can make them pretty fast by swapping in some E36 junkyard parts and adding a little more camber. Sometimes you can find 250 hp modified E36 motors for cheap used too.
Thanks Grant/Cali. Cali, I briefly considered something like the Legend as they run every Tues at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (I think.)

Here is a pix of the car. I put a deposit down and I'm supposed to go pick it up next Sat.


Here's an album I created with some other pix.

One added bonus I hadn't thought of is getting to kid my wife about being a "Nascar owner". Trying to get her to work on her accent now to match mine!!! ;D
Cool looking car, I'm sure it will be a lot of fun. There are a couple running around here off and on, plus a nascar truck. They look like they are a handful to drive

Curious as to why that is?

About the same dimensions as a mustang, right? You can setup them up to weigh much less. COG is is probably about the same.

Running 300 wide tires.

If somebody told me I could pick my LS or a prepped Bush or arca car to race at Watkins Glen for $5,000. I love my LS but if all I had were some tires and springs, I doubt I'd pick it over a cup based car. (Maybe I'm way wrong again, I'll post as I get a chance to drive it.) (I've heard the COT setup is a different story though.)

The cup cars, are the ones you're talking about, are they runing Bias or Radials?

Did they get the same compounds for all 4 wheels? Oval setups they run a different compound on rights and lefts.

Were the running the right spring rate/sway bar combination? sways etc up for a road course and set the camber and caster properly?

I wonder if the wind is because of the spoiler?

Whether it handles better than my LS really isn't that big of a concern but I would have a hard time believing you can't setup these or any car to go fast. When I hear brick, I think heavy or bad aero? They aren't as heavy and I would think the aero on a cup based car would be better than a Mustang.

Just talking this through, and plan to use any comments from here while tinkering.

FYI. If anybody goes this route, I just found Rhine Enterprised in Denver, NC. They do vintage cup setup and restorations. They also do a lot of other cars. Spoke with him today and sounds like they have a lot of knowledge.
P.S. Speaking with Bill, for unused tires, you're looking at about $100 per tire. These are unused left over for race teams.

TMO Supporting Vendors