The Hooniverse Dream Racing Series: Bring Back Showroom Stock!

Gone are the days of run-what-you-brung win-on-Sunday-sell-on-Monday racing. Where did they go, and why did they go? Personally, I think some great showroom racing series have died horrible deaths because the sanctioning bodies allowed them to. The classes got too complicated, too difficult to police, and they didn’t crack down enough on cheating, or didn’t care. Everyone romanticizes the halcyon days of TransAm racing in the late 1960s, but that series died because rules expansion made the cars too expensive for privateers to build, and the series too reliant on fickle manufacturer support to live. What used to be the SCCA Escort Endurance series for basically stock cars has evolved into the full-boat FIA GT3 spec Pirelli World Challenge (which is a great series, but it’s far from its roots). Even the SCCA’s “Showroom Stock” classes allow too much to be changed from stock (shock absorbers, for example).
Usually when I think up dream car stuff, it’s a highly modified car that I’ve always wanted in my garage, usually based on something I own or something I have owned, or something I would like to own. This time, I’m going to do something a little different, and think about a racing series that I’d like to see built. I was having a conversation with Mr. Eric Rood the other day about defunct series and what we’d like to see. Well, my answer was a resurgence of a true showroom stock racing series. I love showroom stock racing, and I want to see more of it.

The most realistic way to start a new racing series based on a type of racing that used to be really popular and went away is with Showroom Stock racing. So, here’s what my idea of a brand new Showroom Stock series would look like, as I think the SCCA’s version of this is a little too liberal an interpretation of “stock”. And before you say “Spec B”, that’s too slow, and not nearly stock enough. What does stock mean? It means stock, dammit. How did you drive it off the dealer’s lot? That’s pretty much how you race it! Street cars are getting better every year, so why not take them to the track?
Personally, I would see this type of racing as a lower budget alternative to GT racing that seems to be so popular these days. Unfortunately, there are a lot of teams that are dropping out of the GT ranks (TUSCC lost a lot of GTD candidates over the off-season, and some of those that are still committed are only running partial seasons). FIA GT3 cars generally cost somewhere around $300,000, and that doesn’t include any spares, any transportation costs, or any consumables costs. A season of GT3 racing could easily run a bill in the handfuls of millions of dollars. As racers are looking for less expensive ways to go fast, one need look no further than the nearest dealership. Most of the cars in this series would be able to start a racing season for under $100,000 fully prepped, some much less even than that.
The goal of this series would be to provide an outlet for semi-professional and gentleman driver racers to compete at a lower price point for a larger audience. Ideally, the entire series would be broadcast live over the internet, much like the 24 Hr series and Pirelli World Challenge series do. Race weekends would consist of two bite-sized portions of racing, typically an hour to an hour and a half long which allows fans to watch and then go about their day without eating up the whole day. This type of double header weekend with short races makes this series an excellent one to share weekends with many other series. For example, we had discussed a race like this sharing a weekend with an amateur series like the 24 Hours of Lemons or ChumpCar, bookending their race weekend with one showroom stock race on the Saturday before the race starts, and another race on the Sunday after the race ends (If any of the higher ups at any racing sanctioning body would like to discuss this idea further, both Mr. Rood and I would be happy to make ourselves available for discussion, of course.).


Section 1 – Upgrades

Cars may only be changed from stock for safety or individual racing series mandates.
All engines and transmissions will be ‘sealed’ units. Software must not be modified from stock.
Rules mandate FIA Article 253 compliant roll cages and racing bucket seats to similar spec.
Any equipment fitted to a car must meet factory-installed homologation requirements of at least 500 cars. If a new component released by the factory meets homologation criteria, racers may choose to add that piece to their car at any point during the season, provided their car is prepared to the same specification as the trim level that piece is fitted to.

Section 2 – Tires

Competitors may use any ‘off-the-shelf’ commercially available tire they choose, provided they fit safely on wheels that are identical in diameter, width, and offset to the wheels the car was originally fitted when it was delivered.  Basically if you can order it from Tire Rack, you can use it.

Section 3 – Braking

For the purposes of this series, we will consider the brake pad material, brake lines, and brake fluid to be a ‘safety’ concern. Competitors may use stainless steel or teflon coated brake lines if they choose. Competitors may use any brake fluid they choose. Competitors may use any brake pad material they choose.
All brake calipers must be stock and mounted in their original position with no spacers. Rotors must remain their stock material, stock diameter, and stock thickness. If a car is ordered with carbon ceramic rotors, it may compete with carbon ceramic rotors.

Section 4 – Exhaust

Because cars these days, barring Jaguar’s F-Type, are entirely too quiet to be considered race cars, and thus boring to fans, all cars in this racing series will be allowed to remove the entire exhaust from the most rearward catalytic converter and replace it entirely with a straight piece of exhaust piping in the same diameter as the smallest diameter section of the stock exhaust.

Section 5 – Balance of Performance

Cars in all classes will be balanced through a target power to weight ratio (in lb/hp), which is to be adjusted by adding or subtracting weight.
Before each race weekend, all cars will be subjected to a dynamometer test, and their minimum weight will be adjusted accordingly.

Section 6 – Classes

There will be three different classes of racing conducted at the same time on the same track: GT, Super Sedan, and Street Sedan.

Class 1 – GT

This class would essentially be for the stock counterparts of FIA GT3 cars. Porsche’s 911, Audi’s R8, Mercedes’ AMG GT, Nissan’s GT-R, Corvette, the rumored new Ford GT, Viper, etc.
Target power to weight ratio: 6 lbs per hp.

Class 2 – Super Sedan

This class is for very fast large displacement sedans such as Chrysler’s SRT cars, Mercedes’ AMG cars, Porsche’s Panamera Turbo, Jag’s XFR-S, Aston Martin’s Rapide, BMW’s M5/M6 Gran Coupe, Audi’s RS6/RS7, Cadillac’s CTS-V, maybe a Ford Taurus SHO if Ford ever give it competitive levels of power?
Target power to weight ratio: 8 lbs per hp.

Class 3 – Street Sedan

Honda Civic Mugen SI Sedan
This class is for your average performance sedans with small displacement engines. Power adders such as superchargers and turbochargers are allowed, but may come with a hefty weight penalty. Cars for this class would include Dart, Civic Si, Corolla, Imprezza, Jetta GLI, Mercedes CLA, etc.
Target power to weight ratio: 11 lbs per hp.

Race courses –

In running an East coast vs. West coast dual series, there is much less transportation costs for teams who are based on one or the other coast. The series ending weekend would be a ‘centrally located’ track so teams don’t have to trailer for a week to get to a race. Reduced costs is key to getting these privateer teams.
West Coast Weekend 1 –
Race 1 – Thunderhill Long
Race 2 – Thunderhill Short
West Coast Weekend 2 –
Race 3 – Willow Springs – Big Willow
Race 4 – Willow Springs – Streets of Willow
West Coast Weekend 3 –
Race 5 – Sonoma – NASCAR layout
Race 6 – Sonoma – Sports Car layout
West Coast Weekend 4 –
Race 7 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Infield Course
Race 8 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Roval
East Coast Weekend 1 –
Race 1 – Roebling Road
Race 2 – Roebling Road
East Coast Weekend 2 –
Race 3 – Mid Ohio – Short
Race 4 – Mid Ohio – Full
East Coast Weekend 3 –
Race 5 – Virginia International Raceway – North Course
Race 6 – Virginia International Raceway – Full Course
East Coast Weekend 4 –
Race 7 – Gingerman Raceway (With 10A)
Race 8 – Gingerman Raceway (With 10B)
East Meets West Championship Weekend –
Race 1 – Circuit Of The Americas
Race 2 – Circuit Of The Americas
Race 3 – Circuit Of The Americas
Race 4 – Circuit Of The Americas
So what do you think? Would you race in a series like this? Would you watch a series like this online? How would you do it differently? Tell us in the comments below.
Photos sourced from Hemmings, Caradvice, HDWalls, MotorTrend, and the Autosport forums.

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  1. GTXcellent Avatar

    Love the premise – Throw 'em on a big dirt track like Knoxville or Eldora and I'm in.

  2. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    I think the street sedan class should have bonus points given to teams that drove the car to the track from their house/garage/facility.
    Also, if the manufacturers get excited enough about this, we get more manual transmission 4-doors and hatches.
    With the new safety structures and such, 11 lbs/hp is pretty strong. A 250 hp sedan could weigh as little as 2750. That would still be pretty quick.
    Count me in.

    1. themostlyporscheblog Avatar

      I like the bonus points for driving to the track. I don't see why that couldn't be done in all classes, if I'm honest.

  3. Sjalabais Avatar

    Awesome article! You put a lot of thought into this. But on a sort of side note: Isn't rallying an accessible, folksy activity? At least in Scandinavia, a fully prepped 240 rallycar will cost about 12000$. That's a relatively easy point of entry. Traditionally, a lot of race drivers cut their teeth on gravel.
    <img src="; width="600">

    1. neight428 Avatar

      I was surprised at how many road racing motorcyclists got their start on dirt tracks too. There is something in the control of a sliding machine that translates well to one that theoretically should not be sliding. I think they must learn what the limits feel like in a muscle memory kind of instinctive way.

      1. Eric Rood Avatar
        Eric Rood

        Dirt-track racing has its place in training road-racing drivers, too. Not only do you learn absurd car control, but you also get familiar with the basics of passing.
        Ryan Blaney, who had maybe one road-course start prior to this, said later that his experience with the "Over-Under" move on dirt paid dividends here.
        [youtube rsQZDC3YTBQ youtube]

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Wow, the heated racing right at the limit here reminds me of the 90s BTCC. Racing pickups is another thing I didn't know existed…how American. Quickest 2×4's ever?
          I have never tried racing myself, except for some go karting (which went really well, came out first and the organiser asked me if I would like to do that regularly. Then I threw up. Jepp). But it just seems logical to test physics on slippery grounds first. I've done some safety courses, and I really like testing the limits on ice. So much less sweat when you get all the sideways action at low speeds…

          1. Eric Rood Avatar
            Eric Rood

            The trucks are really just tubeframe stock cars with body panels shaped like a truck. They're not too different from the Nationwide/Xfinity/Whatever cars.
            Before there was that, the SCCA had light pickup racing that wasn't tubeframe/stock cars.'
            <img src="; width="300">

          2. Sjalabais Avatar

            The real deal sounds way more intriguing, but that is not really a surprise, is it?

  4. EriktheAwful Avatar

    Dump section 5. If a manufacturer wants to compete, they need to mass-produce a faster car.

    1. hubba Avatar

      The stated purpose of the series is to cater to "gentleman" drivers (ie, it's mostly their money being spent, not factory money–the "semi-pro" drivers usually get funded by the "gentleman" drivers).
      As a rule, hobby drivers will cheerfully pay for the ongoing expenses of racing if the have the money. They balk at getting stuck with the wrong car, which doesn't give them a chance to be competitive and can't be sold to someone else.

    2. themostlyporscheblog Avatar

      Then you're relying too much on manufacturer support, and you have a similar problem to what Trans Am suffered with their mass exodus in the early 1970s.

    3. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
      PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

      Section 5 is the key to getting a car dialed in for being competitive. Sure traction, aerodynamics and the like will play into this, but verified power-to-weight is a way to keep a team from overpowering everyone by "blueprinting and balancing" their otherwise stock turbo engine a la the late 90s WRC racing.

      1. themostlyporscheblog Avatar

        I also tried to use a wide variety of different types of race courses to help overcome some of that. Sure, the high-horsepower high-weight cars will take victories at tracks with long straights, but the lightweight low-power cars could do some serious damage at tracks with short straights and lots of turns. You also have to figure a 1-hour race will probably empty your average fuel cell, so kick that out to an hour and a half, and you have fuel and tires to worry about if you're running a heavy high-powered Hellcat versus a lighter less powerful M3 or something.

        1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
          PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

          Yeah, a 1:45 race series would be good. The 707-hp 20 gallon tank cars would have to work out how to not make two stops.

    4. skitter Avatar

      Section five is the only rule you need.
      And if you get into aero cars, the only additional rule you need is downforce to weight ratio.

  5. neight428 Avatar

    Isn't the problem with showroom stock that one or two models inevitably adapt to the rules better than others and thus end up dominating the series and making it less interesting rather than more? I followed AMA Super Sport motorcycle racing for a while, and for some time (may still be the case) you knew that only one or two teams had a shot at winning. Only big errors, crashes, or rain gave anyone else a shot. The best riders made their way to the best teams and then they'd move on to Superbike. These guys had factory involvement the likes of which would not be a factor here, unless it actually became popular and could be used to sell cars, then you're back on the money treadmill.

  6. mdharrell Avatar

    "All engines and transmissions will be ‘sealed’ units."
    I've tried racing with a nonsealed engine; it didn't work well at all.
    <img src="; width="350">

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      The Saab?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Yes, that was Thunderhill 2013. We turned ten laps on Saturday, suffered engine failure, spent the rest of the day beating the engine back into submission, then turned two more laps on Sunday before the above occurred. The extra two laps on Sunday were, in hindsight, more than we should have hoped to achieve, given that the engine had used its laps on Saturday to develop (in Ms. Martin's words) "an innovative in-cylinder aluminum-sintering process."
        <img src="; width="350">

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Wow. It just didn't want to die.
          <img src="; width="400">

  7. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    Also, you'll need something for the Northeast and Northwest.
    Additional NE tracks to consider:
    Lime Rock
    Would be great to expand to places like Belle Isle, but that's a pipe dream especially with it being a state park now.

    1. themostlyporscheblog Avatar

      Belle Isle would be a fantastic place to race, but for the expense. You'd have to run it as a thursday or friday support race for the Indy/TUSCC weekend. That'd be awesome, but difficult to orchestrate.

      1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
        PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

        I basically assumed most of these would need to be part of a race weekend at the start, just to gain some cross-promotion. I hate to say it, but launching a series like this on it's own, well, it just won't happen, not without MAJOR buy-in from Bridgestone, Rain-X, Meineke or the likes.

        1. themostlyporscheblog Avatar

          Oh, for sure. I was just mentioning that it might be hard to get a spot on a headliner weekend like that. I was aiming a little lower, maybe playing second fiddle to a NASA or SCCA weekend, or even a ChumpCar/LeMons weekend. It's not something that I'd suggest would rent the track on its own and show up with nothing else to watch.

    2. Hopman Avatar

      No love for Loudon? ? Or Stafford? Ditch Monticello because from the scuttlebutt I've heard from the LeMons guys who raced it, it's kinda boring.

      1. Eric Rood Avatar
        Eric Rood

        Monticello is boring and very poorly equipped for wheel-to-wheel racing, oddly enough. Also, most of the country club's members are, well, members.

  8. dukeisduke Avatar

    Bring back Showroom Stock? Hell yes! The only problem is that the RWD Super Coupes from back then (RX-3s, Capris, Opel Mantas, etc.) are long gone, so most cars would be FWD sedans.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      It's not entirely impossible to race cars with Wrong Wheel Drive, you know.

      1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
        PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

        Agreed. In fact they race rather well, just differently. Very late braking with intent to upset the rear physically and metaphorically.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          It takes a different set of skills. I had good control on ice with my Volvos and I have control with my wife's Camry. My WWD Honda on the other hand…haven't figured it out yet. Sometimes, I reign in a slide, sometimes, I look like a fool. Never in public though.

    2. Hunbsloger Avatar

      Ironic that the lead shot shows a Manta as they were booted off the track in 1975 for being just too tough to beat

  9. Maymar Avatar

    <img src="; width=500 /img>
    I was going to mention the defunct Honda/Michellin challenge (which lasted from '75-'92, and then they tried again in '04), but if Spec B is too slow, so's this. I figured the picture was still worth sharing.
    Also, may I recommend MosportIswearI'llnevercallittheCanadian Tire Motorsports Park?

  10. Jonathan Avatar

    Great idea but totally weight added….and stock tires would be fun too…
    Hope this males a comeback. I remember it and the original trans am racing too..that was awesome back in the late 60s…..under 2 liter and under 5 liter classes with cars that really were closer to stock cars than what we see these days…

  11. slow_poke Avatar

    check out the MPTCC Moto IQ Tuner Car championship. sort of close. they allow most changes that you can buy, not fab, and have two classes based on Hp/lb. seems like something that would be a HUGE $$ sink.
    i really like the idea, otherwise. but probably need a class for things comparable to mazda 2's. the Trans Am series for under 2L looked like it would have been fun.

  12. Jon Etkins Avatar
    Jon Etkins

    I love this idea, with two exceptions:
    1. The answer is always Miata – where’s the class for them?
    2. There’s more than one race track in the Southern states. COTA would make a fine venue for ths showdown, but how about a couple of preliminary races in the general vicinity of “Not the East or West Coast”?