ChumpCar World Series: Weekend preview for MIS and The Ridge


This weekend sees one of ChumpCar World Series’ occasional two-race weekends, where Chump teams in two different regions take the low-buck endurance-racing challenge. Northern (and some Central) Region teams will tackle Michigan International Speedway’s “roval” course while the Western Region heads to ChumpCar’s Pacific Northwest stronghold to tackle The Ridge Motorsports Park (above). MIS racers will run a standard Double-7 weekend with a seven-hour endurance race on Saturday and Sunday. The Western Region adjusts their schedule to run a 10-hour race Saturday and a “short” six-hour Sunday race.


“Wreckless Wroval” at Michigan International Speedway

Like most speedway infield courses, the MIS road course features a long oval section with banking and a long straight. This section is long enough to favor high-horsepower cars, but the fact that three of the weekend’s six podiums in 2012 were occupied by four-cylinder cars indicates that there’s a bit more to winning than just being the fastest car. The narrow infield section can present some tricky overtaking obstacles, especially with 32 entries registered, so slower cars may be able to use the relative lack of space to maintain track position. Early-week weather forecasts call for sunny and mild temperatures, so weather should not be a major factor in the outcome.


The favorite for this race is, unsurprisingly, a well-traveled BMW E30. Bucksnort Racing (above) has logged a few thousand race miles in 2013, winning a 24 Hours of LeMons weekend at Gingerman Raceway, taking half of a Double-7 at Gingerman, and nabbing a podium at VIRginia International Raceway two weekends ago. They’ll likely be one of the fastest two or three cars, so the real test will be finding out how well the car holds up the shortly after running 24 hours at one of America’s most demanding racetracks.

Mopar 4 Life should present the biggest challenge to Bucksnort with their well-prepared, veteran Dodge Neon. This squad has always shown well in Northern Region races and won the Saturday race at MIS last year. They’ve struggled a bit in 2013, but the team’s last race at Shannonville netted a second-place finish, by far their best of the year. They’ll hope to equal or better that at MIS.

In a similar vein, Kentucky Spirits have struggled since a dominant weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park in June 2012. In the time since, they’ve managed a couple of Top 10s with their Nissan 300ZX, but have come up short of the podium. However, their less-than-stellar 2013 should not be considered a real indicator of the car’s potential.


Bavarian Mustache Werks (above) finished runners up to Mopar 4 Life in the Saturday 2012 race at MIS, marking another near-miss for the E30 team. In two ChumpCar races at Watkins Glen, these chaps finished third and fourth in an extremely deep field. Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot by saying this, but I’d be very surprised if this team doesn’t come away from the weekend with a win.

If this were a discussion of teams that most deserved a win, few could argue against TFE Racing’s claims. The team struggled for several years with a Subaru Impreza, coming close to a win a few times, but they ultimately fell victim several times to the trappings of the complicated Scooby. They’ve ditched the Impreza for a BMW E36 and have developed the car steadily, turning in two Top 10 finishes at Gingerman. This could be a chance for TFE to demonstrate the team’s true capability.

Forget everything I just said about Subarus’ fickle nature in crapcan racing. Blueberry Fields Forever, an Impreza powered by the flat-6 engine from the quirky SVX. The team have wisely ditched the SVX’s funky shell, but the six-cylinder motor provides plenty of grunt and the team has improved its reliability to a frightening degree. I don’t know if they can outrun most Chumps, but they should be able to turn in a Top 10 performance or two.


Few will doubt Holy Rollers (above) ability to push the limits of their heap, but pace has never been the team’s issue. Reliability issues have plagued their Integra and kept them from exploiting the team’s quickness. Seven-hour races generally require less time for the car to stay together, but they also mean that an issue that sidelines a car for three or four minutes can be the team’s undoing. If their Acura remains intact, they just might be to pick up another MIS podium for the four-cylinder crowd.

My handpicked longshot is maybe the longest shot I’ve ever taken. Actually, it’s more of a hat-tip to a team that has repeatedly brought the broken-off handle of a plastic knife to Omaha Beach. This is, of course, Team Phoenix, who have previously campaigned a Chevrolet Camaro, a Dodge Shadow, a Ford Thunderbird, and a Chevrolet Chevette. They have had even less success than one might imagine, yet they return with three entries at MIS. I don’t know which terrible cars they will have, but rest assured, they will be terrible. Therefore, you should cheer for them via live timing if you can.

Other longshots: Chumpty Dumptys (BMW E30), S—box Racing (BMW E30), Cavette Racing (Chevy Cavalier).


“The Ridge Ride 16” at The Ridge Motorsports Park

The Pacific Northwest continues to shun the Eastern and Central regions’ high BMW counts. Sure, six 3 Series are slotted to start at The Ridge, but Volkswagen leads the field in car counts with nine entries, mostly Rabbits and Golfs. There will also be a half dozen Honda Civics and CRXs and five Mazda RX-7s, but the car we’re most excited comes from a team that has quietly run a tremendous lump of British Leyland iron for the past year. Weather forecasts indicate comfortable ambient temperatures with some clouds in the sky and maybe a slight chance of rain.


I’ll start with the glut of Volkswagens, since many of them possess a fighting chance for a win. Squirrels of Fury return with the Rabbit that won America’s longest road race. The Squirrels have performed better in long-distance races, but 10 hours of racing could be enough for them to come out on top. Similarly, Top 10 stalwarts Martini Racers have a proven Golf with the ability to compete in all race formats. Rusty Rotors (#27 above) are another advocate of the Rabbit and Shift Autosport nabbed a win earlier this year in their Jetta. As with the 36-hour race at Spokane County Raceway in July, I’d be very surprised if the podium either day is devoid of the VW badge.

The best of the Mazdas will likely be Apex of Failure, whose 13B-powered RX-7 won ChumpCar’s inaugural race at The Ridge last year. They will hope to rebound from a disappoint performance in The 36. Tachophobic Racing’s first-generation RX-7 will hang around the leaderboard’s top third, but a win may be a quantum leap for this team.

None of the Honda teams on the entry list have ever nabbed a win, but Socket Monkeys edged out Martini Racers for the final podium slot at The 36 with their Civic and have a few Top 10s historically. The Eh! Team are a Canadian squad, naturally, who occasionally land on the podium with their tough little CRX, although a win has eluded them for 18 races. Relative newcomers Draggin’ Dragons looked strong in their Civic with a pair of Top 10 finishes in the most recent weekend at Portland International Raceway.


As mentioned when the 24 Hours of LeMons visited The Ridge not so long ago, the course’s long straights and substantial elevation changes favor higher horsepower. The Son of Andre Ford Mustang (above) showed plenty of speed at Spokane this year and could be a team to watch in the shorter formats where speed can make a huge difference. If you’re a fan of Bavaria, look for veterans Chotchkie’s Racing BMW E30 and BOC Racing’s E36 to finish as the best Bimmers.

With most of the usual types remaining competitive, some may overlook a battered old Volvo 140, but experienced Chumps know General Leif campaign one of the best Volvos in crapcan racing. This squad has narrowly missed an overall victory a couple of times with their B-engined Volvo, and I expect they’ll manage a good result or two this weekend.

A few veteran teams have trailed off in the standings over the past year or two after strong initial showings and I’ll pick them all as my collective longshot. Keep an eye on The Old Lompoc Special (Mazda RX-7), Team GI SHO (Ford Taurus SHO), and Clutch on Fire Racing (Toyota MR2). They each won a race 2011 but have yet to take another.

Finally, one team at The Ridge will demonstrate true crapcan grit. British Leyland has been represented in many guises in ChumpCar and in LeMons: several MGBs, an Austin Marina, and the odd Austin Mini, among others. However, Team Odin are the only team I know to have campaigned a glorious Rover SD1, which will run its fourth ChumpCar weekend at The Ridge. Sure, the family that comprises the team have never finished higher than 31st and may not do much better in the standings this time around, but anyone bold enough to campaign a V8-powered Rover in endurance racing earns my just-made-up Motorsports Badge of Courage.

Kudos to you, Team Odin. Know that much of the crapcan world, a small part of the British isles, and myself are rooting for you this weekend.


[Photos: Marcia Blas via Flickr (Photos 1, 5, 6); Eric Rood/Hooniverse (Photo 2); Alex Bellus/Alex Bellus Photography (Photos 3,4)]

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31 responses to “ChumpCar World Series: Weekend preview for MIS and The Ridge”

  1. mdharrell Avatar

    Ah. I'm already planning to go to the Billetproof Hot Rod Eruption Drags on Sunday near Toutle, Washington:
    The Ridge is somewhat on the way there and/or back. Now I'll have to figure out how to incorporate both into my weekend.

  2. ChuckGoolsbee Avatar

    The Ridge is an awesome track. One of my all-time favorites.

    1. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      The elevation change looks incredible from the in-car video I've seen.

  3. Sjalabais Avatar

    The Bucksnort car is just another illustration of why low-buck-racing is so intensely cool: While Ferrari shaves indistinguishable parts of seconds off Formula 1 lap times with smoother paint, Bucksnort ignores aerodynamics altogether. And does well.
    Eric, will you do a feature on the economics of owning, preparing and racing a car like that? I would be very interested in seeing more numbers. There is so much more to racing than just the car, not least financially.

    1. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      I'm working on something tengentially related to the economics of building a competitive car for another place, but the fruits of that reporting (of which there has been a lot) will show up on Hooniverse in one form or another, as well.
      How's that for a non-committal answer?

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Non-committal answer accepted as long as we scavenge on those fruits for free with this good, open-minded and interesting crowd.

    2. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      Also, the "Singing Billy Bass" on the left-rear corner is usually on during races. You can see it in onboard video occasionally.

    3. Craig Avatar

      I think the general consensus is that it runs $3,000 to $5,000 to do acquisition and first-race prep. If you want to go over the engine with a fine-toothed comb, or you want to go gold-plated on your seat, you can spend more, and if you want to go super seat-of-the-pants (and risk spending the weekend wrenching instead of driving), you can spend less, but that's a pretty good ballpark. It depends partly on whether you can do all the fab yourself or you need to pay someone else to do your roll cage, seat placement, and related. The additional incidental costs are safety gear for drivers (rental is ~$200, acquisition of a decent full set is between $500 and $1000), transport to the race, and consumables. The latter two are highly variable. Transport depends on where you are, where the track is, what your tow vehicle is, and what you're using to haul the car (and it could be $0 for a race at a true home track). Consumables depends on both your car and the track—fuel consumption varies with both the power and the efficiency of the engine, and the car and the track both conspire to vary use of brakes, tires, and other such.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Depending on such matters as the jurisdiction and the age of the car, keeping it street-legal is also an option for transport.

        1. Craig Avatar

          True, and I know of a number of teams that have done that, some for long hauls (e.g. the Model T GT driving from California to Dallas and back). Anybody who does so should probably have a contingency plan for what to do in the unfortunate event that the car is not fit to drive back from the track, either because it dbu or because it was damaged by some sort of unintended use (bouncing off a wall, bouncing off another car, agricultural work, etc).

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            We do it with our car, too. Our contingency plan is that we're screwed.

          2. Van_Sarockin Avatar

            Don't fuck up. Generally a pretty good plan.

        2. Van_Sarockin Avatar

          There should be a class and Uber-Trophy for street legals.

      2. Eric Rood Avatar
        Eric Rood

        $3K to $5K for a first race is pretty accurate. Some teams (Eyesore) can freebuild based on what they have lying around the shop and some savvy Craigslisting.
        Allegedly, there are race shops that will build you a competitive crapcan for $4500, not including entry fees, transportation, etc. I can't say I'm much a fan of that, because if you have the money to pay someone to build you a car, I don't really understand why you'd bring it to LeMons or Chump.

      3. Sjalabais Avatar

        Thanks a lot for the breakdown, also to the other people here confirming it. As a group effort with mechanics, drivers etc this is really not much money. I wonder what kind of tires it is common to use? How many hours of racing does a set of tires survive, say with a popular E30? In Norway, a decent set of tires is 600$ and up, but I understand we always have unicorn prices, and if you buy lots of tires, a discount makes sense. Very interesting. 🙂

    4. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      I've got miscellaneous CSI Car/Uberbird build budgets around, I could contribute those.
      As I best recall, we were at $3500 the first time the 633 csi went out, and we probably should've spent another grand or so on the car. The biggest contributor is the cage, followed by wheels and tires.
      We ordered our cage as a pre-bent, pre-cut kit and I welded it (bought a $1000 welder to do so), but these days I'd just have someone do it, as inspections have gotten much stricter.
      Having a trailer and truck make a big difference on the per-race cost, as otherwise that can be a few hundred bucks.
      The real key, though, is to build the car over the course of 3-4-5 races. Don't try to build a world-beater on your first race. Also, more races amortizes the initial build costs.

  4. Ryan Ingle Avatar
    Ryan Ingle

    I can't wait to start our chump build with an old civic we picked up for $100. I'm headed to Atlanta on Nov 2-3rd to get an idea of what everybody is running. Once we start the build, I'm going to video and document the whole process. So far, I've estimated $3,500 build cost. Factor in another $1,000 for unforeseen expenses and I believe we can make it.
    I'm still trying to decipher the rule book on engine swapping. I'm sure it will make sense after I talk with more people about it. More then likely I will keep the D16z6 for now. Haha it's not like were going to be competitive for the first few events anyway! We are just shooting for finishing races.

  5. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    It looks to me that a realistic budget is more like $5-10k, to build a car, get it to the race, hang out, race, and get it home – exclusive of personal equipment. Not a small number for most people, but tiny by most yardstick of auto racing. And probably the most fun you can have for the money.

    1. Ryan Ingle Avatar
      Ryan Ingle

      Your pretty well right on. Although after the car is built, your just looking at consumables + entry fee, given nothing major breaks. There was a 87 Civic that was chump approved that sold for $1,200 not long ago. The best bang for the buck would be buy someones car that is getting out of it. You could also find an ITC SCCA car for cheap granted it meets the guidelines. If you factor in the seat time vs cost it really is the best value in road racing.

      1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

        Sure. I wasn't saying you couldn't do it for less. I'm sure you can, and do very well. But that requires a lot more luck and effort. I was also considering simply the effort of making it to your first race, from a clapped out consumer car as your basis. That gets amortized the more races you run. But it also assumes no residual value. And, as I said: "the most fun you can have for the money."

  6. BobR Avatar

    Build cost is different than running cost – we've been in ChumpCar since the very first race – the Eh! Team Honda CRX – we spend on average $1000 ea. per race – covering everything – repairs, tires, entry, fuel for towing and racing, hotels, some team meals and refreshments, drinks and food at the track – this has been pretty consistent over 18 or so races (has it really been that many????) – best thing we've ever done – still way cheaper than any other racing/rallying I've done except for local ice racing – only bitch I've got is recently the glut of rent-a-rides is leading to some pretty sketchy driving practices as the arrive and drive guys don't see it as an endurance race – they are only concerned about their stint and getting their bang for their buck. CrapCan racing is where it's at.

  7. LTDScott Avatar

    I'm surprised about the low turnout of BMWs at The Ridge. From what I understand, the Pacific Northwest is a hot bed of E30 enthusiasts.

    1. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      My understanding is that E30s are harder to get for crapcan money in the PNW because the Pro3 guys get their hands on most of them.

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        Ah, that would make sense. In general, E30 prices are going up because they're becoming popular. Recently someone complained about my car, saying there was no way I could get a running E30 for less than $500. But back in 2008 when I bought mine, there were plenty of rough E30s in that price range, and nobody was chomping at the bit for a 325e sedan.

    2. mdharrell Avatar

      Haven't you heard? We're all about the Austins.
      <img src="; width="450">

  8. Team Odin Avatar
    Team Odin

    Team Odin in the Rover SD1 is still alive and racing on Sunday of the Ridge. Thanks for the kudos, the V-8 is the least of our worries, the transmissions seem to be an issue! We may not corner as well, but the straight stretches are great.

    1. Rob Avatar

      It's unfortunate that you guys were still running on Sunday. In all my years of racing I have never seen such a pathetic display of driving from one team. You guys have managed to make contact with almost every car in the field at one point or another and then you put a drivers life at risk at the end of a straight away when you nailed the race leading car and almost caused it to roll over at 110mph. I hope karma gets the best of you!

      1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
        Jeff Glucker

        what an awful comment… you must be one of the SUPER PRO MEGA ALL-STAR guys.
        Wishing a wreck on another team is pathetic and terrible. They are rookies learning to race and everyone starts somewhere. Rather than talk crap, why don't you lead by example and maybe take a chance to mentor a younger or less experienced driver.
        I'd be quite happy if you never return to this site, thanks

        1. Bruce Avatar

          No one was wishing a wreck just making a point.. Every one has to start somewhere but dangerous driving is not acceptable. The incident at the end of the front straight was just bad sportsmanship and dangerous driving. The Odin driver did not have to hit the leading car as it passed him. The lead car was clearly running faster and was racing. The bump on the right rear corner at 110mph was extremely dangerous. After the race it was defended it by saying the Odin driver was in the right because the pass had not been completed. He should have been aware of the race around him and just because he could does not mean he should have hit the passing car. Intentional contact is not allowed period, especially in such a dangerous situation.

  9. team odin Avatar
    team odin

    Thank you for your concern for Team Odin, your facts are incorrect and exaggerated ,We are in our 2nd year of chump car, Amateurs at best ,put 3 novice , drivers out @ the ,Ridge ,had some problems, the incident at the end of the straight was the other team coming right hitting his right rear quarter with our left front fender, must be good Karma no one got hurt,
    With all your years of racing, why are you still at entry level crap can ??

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      Don't sweat that comment. Keep on trucking and keep on racing. Everyone starts somewhere, just keep your head up and keep learning how to drive.