Videos: Racing 100-horsepower Hyundais Down Under

In America, grassroots racers flock to one-make series in droves. Spec Miata is the big name, but the Porsche 944 and Nissan 350Z (among others) also enjoy the same vaunted status as Spec classes. From the types of cars mentioned, one might surmise the common denominator among most American one-make racing is performance.
However, Australians approach things a little differently. Instead of performance or sportiness, the Aussies run their own one-make championship(s) based on availability and affordability. The result is the Hyundai Excel Cup, a hundred-horsepower momentum mototorsport that resembles American B-Spec racing crossed with the 24 Hours of LeMons.

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The single-make series for 1994-2000 Hyundai Excels—known as the Accent elsewhere, it was second only to the Holden Commodore in Australian sales during its production run and can now be found today easily for $1,500 AU—with around 100 peak horsepower from the factory. The racers are allowed some modifications of their Excels, which are specified by which sanctioning body holds the regional races (the Excel Racing Championship Series hosts several state championships while the smaller Track Attack Australia hosts their own Excel Cup in Queensland). However, the cars are still running, at best, very low triple digits in horsepower with tall economy-car gear ratios. So, like B-Spec racing, momentum is key.
Unleashing a whole field of them on Australia’s club tracks, then, is like setting loose 25 Spec Miata drivers with rental cars: Three-wide crossover passes, locked-brake divebombs, and lurid throttle-pinned slides are all par for the course. There’s a little argy-bargy, but should a driver accidentally wad-up his or her Excel, a replacement can be built for a mere few thousand Aussie dollars.
Enough talk, though. Let’s see what this manic affair looks like. The first video comes from the Track Attack Australia Excel Cup at Queensland Raceway and while it’s all entertaining, things heat up around the 12-minute mark for the race’s last couple of laps.
Here’s what happens when you throw a torrential downpour at an ERCS field at Wakefield Park Raceway. Pay close attention to the “adrenaline-is-brown” moment headed into Turn 1 at 2:00 in the video.
What collection of videos is complete without bloopers? In this case, that includes tons of open-throttle opposite lock, circuit excursions, and a not-so-surprise ending.
The idea to race cheap, disposable road cars is surely brilliant, as thousands of LeMons and ChumpCar racers will assert, but one has to question how this kind of racing never really came to pass in the United States before. Surely, the same lessons could be gleaned from racing E100-generation Toyota Corollas, no?
[Sources: Excel Racing Championship Series, Track Attack Australia, MrExcelRacer on YouTube, Michael Hiscoe on YouTube, alexzook1 on YouTube | Second photo: New South Wales ERCS]

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  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    It’s fantastic! Almost spilled my … well, water over the “Miata drivers with rental cars” line, but it sure looks like it. I guess a cage would easily be worth twice the Accent’s money in Europe. The Hyundai racing king class then…might involve XG30’s?

    1. Eric Rood Avatar
      Eric Rood

      I would love to see XG300s (XG30s? Whatever) racing. Hell, I’d love to see one of them racing.
      That first video from about 11:30 to 15:00 literally makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it. The whole three-cars-in-one-corner thing is crazy enough, but the one-handed divebomb that leaves the two cars behind banging fenders is just hilarious.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Not having to stare death in the eye in overballsy™ situations like the one above is much of the appeal of cheaper and slower racing series.
        Numbering issue: That’s a Hyundai classic. In Europe, they left a zero off: