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A ChampCar Primer

The Build Primer

This is by no means a comprehensive list of things you have to do to go racing in ChampCar. But it is a good starting point.

Read the rules

Download and read the ChampCar BCCR - https://champcar.org/web/rules.php

ChampCar Mentor Program

Are you new to ChampCar?
Have you never raced before?
Are you new to endurance auto racing?
Building a new car?
Are you feeling a bit lost?
Overwhelmed?
Want advise?
Want a helping hand?
Want help at the track navigating your first few races?
If yes to any of these questions, the ChampCar mentor program can help you. We have experienced mentors who can help you get started, advise on new builds, help you learn the ropes, and much more.
Please send an email with what help you are looking for so we can match up a mentor. mentor@champcar.org

Pick a car

Review the approved cars that are on the VPI List https://champcar.org/web/rules/
If your chosen car is not on the list, please fill out a TechDesk ticket, and put as much information about the car choice as possible. Be aware that vehicles manufactured in the past few years may not be on the listings as they are not allowed to race in class.
https://champcar.org/tech/

Buy an existing ChampCar legal race car. The easy button is to buy a car that has already been raced in ChampCar. However, it can be a much cheaper path. If that is not an option, then see below.

Acquire the car of your choice. Of course, running cars are the best. However, it's also good to buy a vehicle you are familiar with. Knowing the strength and weaknesses of the platform can be an advantage over learning everything from trial and error.

Start the building process

Remove seats, carpet, headliner, and spare change from the interior. Remove door windows and rear windows. The rear windows may be replaced with Polycarbonate or glass taped with 3M window tape. Remove sunroof glass and replace it with sheet metal.

Safety is a priority

Weld in a roll cage. Roll Cage Components make ChampCar legal cages. Prices start at $495 for a legal roll cage. Before your first race, inspect every weld with a flashlight, mirror, and your finger for complete welds. The tech inspector will do that, so it's best to do that before he does. We have even seen professionally built cages fail because of missed welds.
https://rollcagecomponents.com/champcar-endurance-roll-cages/

You will need the following:

  • Racing Seat SFI or FIA legal seats
  • Rollbar padding closed-cell SFI legal padding
  • SFI approved and in-date window net for the driver’s door window, center triangle nets are optional.
  • SFI or FIA 5 to 7-point racing seat belt/harness. FIA-approved belts are made from a different material and have a more extended certification period but at a higher cost to purchase.
  • Certified and in-date fire system

The build

Use a seat that is designed for road racing. For example, drag racing seats or circle track seats are not intended for the high-speed impacts you could be involved in.

Keep at least one windshield wiper installed; it can rain during races.

It's also a good idea to keep the defroster installed. It's hard to drive if the front window is fogged up.

Make sure that the rear running and brake lights work. While headlights are not required under the rules for daylight racing, the conditions can get dark during inclement weather events, and your race car being seen is a good thing.

Use good quality brake pads designed for racing or have a lot of parts store pads on hand. Flush the brake fluid with new quality brake fluid. If you have a hydraulic clutch, flush that system as well.

Have at least two mounted and balanced spare tires and two sets of extra lug nuts. Chasing your lug nuts under the car during a tire change is not fun. So instead, have your tire changer reach into his pocket and pull out another one.

It’s good to use Gorilla tape to tape down the wheel weights. Because hitting the curbs can easily knock the wheel weights off. Don’t use wheels designed for drag racing. We have seen these wheels split in half, which would not be good during a high-speed run.

Remove the catalytic converter and install a test pipe. Keep the muffler in place. Quiet cars are just as fast as loud cars. ChampCar limits cars to 96db, but some tracks may be lower, like Laguna Seca at 90db. Most loud cars are due to using flow through glasspack type mufflers and incomplete welds or seals on the pipe connections.

Use a chain mounted to the floor to hold the exhaust up if a bracket or mount breaks. Space the chain every few feet. It’s easier to fix the exhaust pipe if it has not dragged on the track for three laps.

Use good quality oil in the engine, transmission, and differential. Replace the coolant with 100% water. The event director may allow a small percentage of anti-freeze during cold weather events to keep the car's coolant from freezing. Please see the race supps. Add a bottle of Redline Water Wetter or equivalent to aid in cooling, lubricating the water pump, and help deter corrosion.

Clean the radiator inside and out and replace old or worn hoses and pressure tanks. Replace belts as needed. It’s a good idea to replace it before the race if you suspect a weakness in the system. Keep all plastics around and in front of the radiator to ensure proper cooling. Finally, pressure test the cooling system to make sure clamps are working and that you don’t have any cooling system leaks. Cooling system dye works fantastic for this step.

Inspect for worn steering and suspension components like bushings. Replace with new parts.

Keep the drivetrain and suspension as stock as possible for the best results at your first endurance race. Although you most likely won’t win your first race, the goal is to finish on track and not spend any time in the paddock. Going slow is better than sitting in the paddock.

Add friends that know a bit about car mechanics. Friends that can weld are good too. Friends with a trailer and pickup truck are also good to have.

Register for a race

Register your car at ChampCar.org, enter a race, pick a door number, order your number panels from https://rvagfx.com/store/, have your team members register, join the club. Then add them to your team.

Install the race car decals as show in the decal installation instruction sheet https://champcar.org/web/pdf/2022DecalPlacement.pdf.

Pit stall supplies

During the race, you must do all fueling on pit lane. While all of the following items are not required, they do make it more comfortable during a long race.

Download the pitlane equipment checklists https://champcar.org/web/pdf/checklist.pdf

  • Cooler for water and sports drinks
  • “Easy-Up” style pop-up tent to keep your team's sun and rain off.
  • Folding chairs.
  • 10-Pound ABC Fire Extinguisher.
  • A 5-Gallon bucket full of Kitty Litter to soak up spilled gas and oil.
  • Broom and Dustpan.
  • Some basic hand tools, 4-way for changing tires, or impact gun and sockets. Battery tools are nice to have, but good old fashioned hand tools do the job everytime.

Fuel

All fueling during the race must be done on pitlane. While fueling, no work can be done on the car, but you can swap the drivers out. When the fuel cap is off, all people over the wall must be dressed as if they were getting into the car.

5-gallon fuel cans are the maximum size that is allowed while fueling. You may use lawn mower style dump cans. The upside is that they are cheap; the downside is that they are slow to fill a car. While you may think that five minutes in pitlane is long, you may not work on the vehicle while fueling. So getting the fuel in quick can allow you to get the windows washed, oil checked, and tires looked at and changed if needed. Fast flow fuel cans like the Hunsaker 5-Gallon dump can are the choice of ChampCar racers on the pit lane. You can get enough required to fuel the car for one stop and store excess fuel in lawn mower cans, or utility jugs. Funnels are no longer allowed while fueling. The rules require a hose between the dump can and the car's fuel fill.

Driver and Crew Gear

Driver Gear and all crew have to use the same gear when fueling - see rule book for details

Auto Racing Helmet - SA 2015 or SA2020
FIA or SFI rated firesuit, gloves, socks, underwear, shoes, and balaclava for those with facial hair or long hair. Do not use kart racing gear. They are not rated for auto racing.
You can also rent gear from DiscoverParts.com or RaceSuitRental.com

Drivers and Crew - New to ChampCar video

ChampCar has put together a good video for new to ChampCar racers and crew. They talk about how they run a race, flagging, and expectations of drivers and crews.

Go have fun!

This sheet is just a primer, and many details have been left out. Always consult the latest BCCR for the details.
Download and read the Supplemental rules for each event you have entered, as there may have different rules for the event.
https://champcar.org/register/events.php