There’s nothing quite like rally racing. It’s dramatically different from NASCAR and Formula 1. It even differs from other popular racing formats, giving drivers the chance to take their vehicle on surface streets and even across dirt and gravel. From Dakar to Rally Australia, there’s an event out there for drivers of every skill and experience level. However, if you’re just looking to get started, you’ll find that it can be challenging and expensive. This guide will help you get ready for rallying without breaking the bank.
Buy a Beater
First and foremost, you’ll need to buy a banger that you can use as your rally car. However, you shouldn’t buy just any old car and prep it for the race. There are a few things that you’ll need to ensure are present. If this is your first rally car ever, go with an older model with few bells and whistles. Look for a manual transmission and few electronic niceties, like power windows and such.
When shopping around for a used car to transform into a rally racer, you’ll want to consider a few things. First, you’ll want a front-engine vehicle in most cases, which shouldn’t be difficult to do, since mid and rear-engine configurations remain relatively rare. Second, you will likely want an all-wheel drive setup to help you handle rougher terrain. With that being said, it may be unlikely that you’ll find a useable beater with all-wheel drive in your price range. If you cannot find all-wheel drive, opt for front-wheel drive.
Take a Cue from Other Drivers
During your search for a rally racer, take a cue from what other drivers are using. Check out the makes and models in the field and get to know why those are used rather than other options. This provides you with a more informed starting point when choosing your own vehicle. Some of the most popular brands here include Subaru, Volvo, BMW, VW, Honda, and even Ford.
Start Building the Car
There’s a lot that goes into building a winning rally car. Don’t expect to do it all at once. You’ll need to break your build down into segments that coincide with your budget, but also allow you to maximize the good parts about the car you’ve bought. For instance, if you managed to snag an all-wheel drive model with a decent power plant, you might want to start your build with safety features like a roll cage, racing seats, racing harnesses, and the like.
You might want to start with the engine and transmission if those are lacking, or with the suspension in other cases. There’s no one-size fits all approach here, though. Start with the weakest area of the car with the intent of building a comparable rally car over time.
In the End
Ultimately, building your first rally car can be fun and rewarding. Find a beater, make smart decisions about the upgrades you install and, most of all, have fun.