Does budget affect race performance?

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Does budget affect race performance?

Postby denis costain » Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:42 pm

I am required to write up a report on the subject of race budget and its affect on performance as part of my course. Many fellow colleagues are interested in Formula 1 budgets and the like but I believe that a look into club man racing and the key areas of which the much smaller budgets should be divided into, to be of more interest.

I am looking for some data into the costs of running these cars over the years, including build costs, testing and development costs etc (the more detail the better), so any help would be much appreciated (I will keep all expenditure details to myself so don't worry about the other half finding out).

I am using my own F750 car as a case study but this is slightly unrealistic as it is being done on a student budget.

PM me for my email address if required. Many thanks in advanced.

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Re: Does budget affect race performance?

Postby Martin Kemp » Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:37 pm

Denis,

I have a list of all the bits you need to make a 750 formula car on my website: http://www.racekits.co.uk.
As well as my kit prices I have listed the cost of all the other bits. There are 2 costs listed - Top price and cheapo price. That should give you a good idea for the range of costs for building a car.

If someone builds their own car they can expect to save on my chassis price because they are not paying for the labour, but they would have to pay more for the body panels because they will need all the materials for the buck and the moulds as well.

I think that somewhere on the site Stato has done a breakdown of a season's racing costs

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Re: Does budget affect race performance?

Postby DMB » Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:31 pm

Martin, I think that was before the old site shuffled off this mortal coil, also I'm not sure that the actual season running cost is relevant - it is dominated by travel and entry fees, which would be the same regardless of how much you'd spent on the car, or on the driver.

I think that it would be fair to say that at this level, you can trade off cost against time and/or talent to some extent, "talent" meaning fabrication and race car engineering skills in this context.

There's also a strong element of dumb luck - because we can't afford wind tunnels, a self-build body is going to a lot of guess-work, or money spent wandering around a track doing tuft testing with a chase car and a camera.

Another thing would be spending money on things like exhausts, carbs and manifolds and being able to pay for rolling road time to check out their effects.

Additionally, spending money on a "professional" chassis setup can help if you're not able to feel the changes yourself as you drive, or can put your car in the right place more or less whilst you gain the feel of it.

The difference in running costs for a full season between a front runner and a tail ender shouldn't be too big, provided they attend the same number of events - those costs are fixed and therefore identical for all. Of course, if you spend time in a hotel rather than a camper or tent, you're going to spend more, but it's arguable whether that will improve your performance (on the track, Peter, on the track) or just empty your wallet.

Not knowing what front runners spend their consumables budget on during a season, I'd have to guess that the main difference in running costs is likely to be tyres - a front runner will use up 4-6 slick tyres per season, whereas someone like me can get two seasons or more out of their tyres, because they are not the limiting factor for performance at the back - the driver's bottle is, followed by the driver's skill, followed by the car.

In terms of driver skill, an absence of natural talent can be compensated for to a certain extent by getting good tuition and lots of track time (allegedly). This would likely help with the bottle factor, too.
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Re: Does budget affect race performance?

Postby pbove » Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:10 pm

David has made some good points.

Firstly, our formula is kind of special. In most club formulae you could take your car to a formula specialist who could set it up and run it for you and this would provide an advantage. So would lots of testing and tyres. A colleague that I used to work with spent £25,000 winning the Ksports Clubmans Championship around 6 or 7 years ago - most of the money went on the team that were running his Mallock, testing and tyres. This is a car not dissimilar to ours, sealed engine, control tyres and spaceframe chassis with live rear axle.

We have managed to avoid many of these pitfalls by frowning on arrive and drive and eliminating most of the benefit from new tyres (although, you wouldn't have thought so at Snetterton!). Last year I used one set of tyres the whole season, did a single test day at Silverstone (during February) and a single rolling road session. The tyres were around £340, the test session £220 and the rolling road session £240.

I do think that there is an advantage in the car being set up properly - i.e. corner weighted. I also did some work on the suspension to cure the understeer that dogged the car for the first 14 years that I owned it. But none of the changes I've made found masses of time, they just made the car more predictable - which meant that I was able to reproduce quick lap times more frequently. Ultimately, the time comes from experience, confidence in the car and application. It took me 9 years of trying to score my first win...... There aren't any real short cuts, Mick and Bob both have many years of experience - but it isn't an impossible task..... it just requires application, attention to detail, consistency and tenacity. If you look at a data trace of a uick lap and an average lap the difference between the two is that on the quick lap you will have got closer to your optimum in all sectors, on the slow lap you may have made one or two mistakes, that's all it takes to lose a second or two.

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Re: Does budget affect race performance?

Postby Martin Kemp » Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:21 pm

All good points.

And good drivers can develop a front running car from a 30 year old Centaur, but the major expense is running it in races. Because the driver needs to learn and understand how the car behaves compared to the other 750 runners.

Testing only really works for experianced race engineers and drivers - for the rest of us competition is the fastest, cheapest and most fun route to develop car and driver. So I reckon the racing expenses are the major cost in moving a car up the grid.

I started my first race last and my last race first (I enjoyed saying that). The expense of entering and travelling to the intervening 100 or so races far exceeds the money spend on developement and the running costs for the car itself.

So I say if you want to go faster budget for a full season and cut your costs by converting the towing vehicle to LPG.

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Re: Does budget affect race performance?

Postby AndrewD » Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:44 pm

pbove wrote:A colleague that I used to work with spent £25,000 winning the Ksports Clubmans Championship around 6 or 7 years ago - most of the money went on the team that were running his Mallock, testing and tyres. This is a car not dissimilar to ours, sealed engine, control tyres and spaceframe chassis with live rear axle.


That scares me! I believe you could do about 8 full seasons (depending on damage and rule changes) on that sort of money, at roughly £3000 per season:
£1750 race entry fees
£600 travel to and from races (10 events, average 300 miles round trip each, 20p/mile)
£200 on race fuel (24 sessions, around 1.5 gallons / ~£8 per session)
£175 on annual costs (750MC membership, championship registration, licence renewal)
£100 on safety equipment due to rule changes or expiry (average)
£100 on consumables (oil, antifreeze, sparks etc)
£75 on essential maintenance

If you add more money then I'd add, in roughly this order:
Rolling road session
Testing
Car upgrades (e.g. new bodywork)
Tyres
More testing
Staying in hotels
Even more testing

As you may have guessed, I think that track time is one of the main factors! If you learn a track, and how a car handles at a track, then you can be confident in what it'll do and push to the limit. Then, when you can get the car to go faster, you'll get better times, but probably be less consistent. A good example is Gerards at Mallory - I was taking it flat out last year, averaging maybe 95mph (with the car having a top speed of ~95). Given a car with a top speed of 115 that could take the corner comfortably at 110, I'd probably vary around the 100-105 mark for the first few laps, but I'd have been experimenting with lifting/braking points and how much throttle to use. Hopefully when it gets to Mallory in August I'll be able to prove this theory :)

I think it's also safe to say that other track experience (e.g. karting) is also incredibly useful, partially for technique and partially for racecraft. It also helps pick up the slack when you're waiting on things beyond your control stopping you getting out on track in a real car!
Food costs can be saved by finishing ahead of Andrew and getting to the sponsors buffet first
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Re: Does budget affect race performance?

Postby Ian Allen » Tue Apr 01, 2008 8:51 am

Yes to all the above,+ Investment in the driver is probably the way to go in our formula if you can afford it ( time ) testing regularly different set ups to see what effect they have on the car. If you can afford it Race tuition may be of some help. But I would say time on the track is as essential as anything when starting, and time is something that's hard to afford. So while you may be cash rich to spend on the car you may be time poor to develope it...... does that make sense.
But I would advocate spending as much on the car in quality components as you can afford.

essential extra spending spending
rolling road set up ( otherwise how do you know where to start from ?) £200
Corner weighting ( especially if you are a big lump ) £50

apparently Mick and Bob don't do either ....so what do I know :lol:


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Re: Does budget affect race performance?

Postby Brian De Vie » Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:51 pm

Andrew, at some stage you'll need to budget for 'Sandwiches' ! :lol:

From a current 'non-driver's perspective',
I would think, the bigger the budget, the better the opportunity to be competitive,
but the size of budget should not effect the amount of Fun or Satisfaction to be had.
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Re: Does budget affect race performance?

Postby AndrewD » Tue Apr 01, 2008 2:38 pm

The sponsors sort out the sandwiches. Assuming there's a buffet at every race I only need to feed myself 42 weeks a year :)
Food costs can be saved by finishing ahead of Andrew and getting to the sponsors buffet first
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Re: Does budget affect race performance?

Postby denis costain » Tue Apr 01, 2008 4:00 pm

Thank you all, I definately have a place to start on this assignment. If anyone has a more detailed expenditure list I could have a look at, I would be very much in their debt.

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