There’s nothing quite like rally racing. It pits you against both the road and the natural world. Along with the help of a navigator, you’ll negotiate paved and unpaved surfaces, rural and urban environments, and do so at speed. While it’s certainly vital that you have the skills necessary, it’s just as important that your car is up to the task. How do you ensure your car is rally ready?
Own or Rent?
First, decide how you want to approach the ownership situation. In most cases, drivers own their own vehicle, but that might cost you tens of thousands of pounds. There are a few courses that will let you rent a car (for a hefty fee, of course). If you’re just dipping your toe in, renting might be the way to go, at least initially.
Buy One Pre-Built
Building your own rally car can be immensely rewarding, but it requires a lot of time, money, and hard work. You can save yourself all that by purchasing one that’s already pre-built. Rally racers are put up for sale all the time as their owners decide to get out of the game, and while you might not find a steal, you will definitely save yourself a few headaches. Of course, you may not find the perfect car for sale, in which case you’re back to square one.
The single most crucial element of a rally car, even more so than the engine, steering, tyres, or anything else, is the roll cage. It’s built from tubular steel (or aluminium) and is designed to augment the structural integrity of your car in the event that you’re involved in an accident. The roll cage must meet specific requirements as set forth by the Motor Sports Association.
Other Safety Gear
You’ll also need mud flaps and the right seats with appropriate seat belts (also governed by the MSA). You can spend a small fortune on these, or you can go basic. Your budget will determine what you spend. Finally, you must have a fire extinguisher onboard. A spill kit, warning triangles, and other supplies may also be required.
Lighten the Load
Weight means drag, and that’s something you do not want while on the track. Try to remove as much excess weight as you can from within the car. Body panels, headliners, and other creature comforts should go. However, you cannot remove any piece of gear that affects the legality of driving your rally car on the road. You’ll need working turn signals, and even a working horn, in order for your car to get on stage.
Ultimately, getting a car ready for rally racing is not that big of an ordeal. The most time-consuming part will be installing the roll cage. The rest is all about complying with MSA requirements and ensuring that your car is as light and fast as possible while still being legal to drive on the road.