BACON: Cost Factors

Brady Bacon

Previously, I compared the cost of several types of sprint car racing based on different engine packages, resulting in vastly different budgets from 305s on up to 410s.

However, there are other factors that also have a major impact on the financial cost of racing.

Non-winged racing can be considerably more affordable than winged racing and, likewise, running a schedule on smaller tracks can greatly reduce the budget a team needs to operate.

The cars used today for winged vs. non-winged competition are virtually the same, with some brands having only minor variation. There are differences in the bolt-on components such as front axles, birdcages, wheels and shocks, but the cost of the components is similar for either variety.

Obviously, an additional cost for winged sprint cars are the actual wings. Powder coated and lettered with all of the posts and hardware, they will run around $1,500, while the hydraulic system for wing adjustment adds another $500.

A competitive, used roller for either division can be purchased for $8,000-$12,000. A brand-new car with all of the bells and whistles can reach $35,000.

Non-winged racing on a local level is by far the most affordable type of 410 sprint car racing. The races pay a considerably low purse, with an average event paying just $1,500 to win and special events paying around $2,000-$3,000, however the affordability of the genre is appealing to many racers.

Without a wing, a sprint car can utilize much less power without spinning the tires, therefore a team can use engines that may have been considered obsolete in the winged ranks.

A fresh used engine capable of winning on the local scene or in a series such as the WAR sprints could be bought for $12,000-$18,000. The longevity of a non-winged engine is much greater than with a wing.

A team running local shows on quarter-mile tracks could get 30 or more races out of their engine before it needs to be freshened. Typical track conditions would also allow a team to run tires several races before replacing them.

Winged racing on a local or regional level can also be an affordable option for racers. Series like MOWA, IRA, and FAST offer great schedules on tracks ranging from quarter-miles to three-eighths-miles, while tracks like Fremont and Attica have great local programs.

Purses are greater with a wing, but costs increase, especially in the engine department.

A typical regional show pays anywhere from $2,000-$3,500 to win and pay back through the field fairly well. A nice used winged engine capable of winning regularly at this level will cost around $25,000-$35,000. Engine maintenance costs also increase as the number of races before a freshen is needed is reduced to 20-25 shows.

Driveline components also have greater wear and a shorter lifespan with a wing. A team could be competitive on used tires at most races in this tier.

Non-winged racing on a national schedule mostly consists of an increase in travel costs as compared to local racing. USAC has a schedule spanning from Florida to California, and from February to November.

The races do pay much better, however, with a $5,000-to-win, $500-to-start purse structure on regular shows and some specials paying as much as $20,000.

A team would need a minimum of two cars and three engines to compete for a championship. USAC competes on larger tracks outside of Indiana, which adds slightly to the costs of engines and tires. An engine needed to qualify well on all tracks could still be obtained for $20,000-25,000, but the rebuild schedule would drop to 20-25 races.

On a typical night, you would also go through two to three new tires on the faster tracks. Most teams utilize fairly new or well-maintained equipment, but brand-new everything is not a requirement to be competitive.

Racing winged sprint cars nationally requires an enormous budget in order to be competitive. Engines, personnel, and travel are the biggest contributors to the cost.

An All Star team could have a used engine in their stable at a value of $30,000-$35,000, but would realistically need a newer engine as well to be able to qualify well at all tracks on the schedule. Similar to USAC, two cars and three engines could get you through a season with no major issues. The rebuild time on engines would be reduced to 15-20 races.

World of Outlaws teams can spend upwards of $60,000 on a new engine and have rebuild schedules as short as 10-12 races. They would also require a minimum of three cars and four-to-five engines.

The All Stars and the Outlaws do have tow money packages ranging from $300-$500 a night for their full-time teams, as well as healthy point funds which help offset some of the increased costs.

Despite having the same engine rules and utilizing similar chassis, costs can vary greatly in different forms of 410 racing. Racers weigh the pros and cons, as well as the vastly different style of each, and decide which works best for them.

Fortunately, the differing levels allow an avenue for larger teams to continuously cycle out their equipment, and for lower budget teams to obtain quality equipment at a price they can afford.


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