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Pobst Position: Racing Rules and Me in 1985, Part Two
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In my previous column, I talked of how difficult it is to turn street cars into race cars, and how tough it is to class them. These issues are directly related to the long-term success of a series. As street cars become better and better race cars, costs multiply rapidly, so from whence cometh this money? In sports car road racing, much of it comes from the drivers themselves, addicted as they are to the powerfully satisfying racing drug. Beyond that, we often look to automotive manufacturers because racing is a car show, after all. Their mission is to make profits selling cars, so the series must serve that purpose to be worth the investment. However, if the series relies on the manufacturers for survival, when they pull out, the series dies. A most prominent factor is the unfortunate fact that only one can win, yet none want to spend all that money and lose. To remedy these issues, the series must be able to stand on its own two feet with or without specific manufacturers, and must be so attractive and valuable to their profit mission that they will choose to participate even if they do not always win. What am I getting at? Entries. There are and will always be enough crazies like us who want to race, if the cost of getting to the grid is attainable. Keeping costs attainable is directly related to the modifications allowed. 1985, I had saved all my money for two years to buy a discounted VW Golf and start pro racing. Long-term series success results from guys like me and Peter Schwartzott and Jason Saini being able to get a car in the show. Touring Car can be that farm system class for World Challenge. Fifty-car fields are inevitable if accessible. Large fields make good shows. Good shows attract sponsors and television. Large fields keep one sponsor from controlling the rules by threatening to take their ball and go home. Low costs keep grids full when the economy slows.

Next, The Racing Spiral. Because street cars are not designed to race, there will always be great pressure to modify and improve. As each demand is met, one car gets faster and the rest now need more to keep up, and the dollars skyrocket. Teams insist they cannot race without the modification, and when it is allowed, other teams demand their changes. Soon, very soon, it is street car to $250K race car. I remember when Peter told me the Integra R got racing cams. What? It was a race car from the factory! Stop the madness. I have been amazed at what people have spent to make a Mini or an 350Z or a Cobalt into a race car. There has got to be a better way. The good news? In many ways, street cars are closer to race cars than they have ever been, and certainly more powerful. Street cars make way more horsepower than the the race cars of yore. The list of 400-plus horsepower beasties grows longer every day. Hold the line on engine modifications, use restrictors to limit power, and the transmission and final drives can handle the power they were built for. 100 more horsepower does not make the show any better. Brake cooling must be upgraded and is a sensible place to spend money. The biggest challenge is the electronic controls, as I mentioned last column. Eliminate ABS. It is very expensive to upgrade, and real racing drivers should not be using crutches anyway. Same for traction and stability controls, though I have yet to use one that actually made a car faster; except in the rain. So, Mr. WC Competition Director TC Kline, I support your efforts to flatten the spiral, and wish you good luck and strength in the toughest job in racing. Racers, it's for your own good.
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