Modern vehicles are increasingly sophisticated, with digital engine and suspension controls and ever more complex mechanical systems. This has given us a world where the humblest entry-level Hyundai hatchback boasts a level of efficiency, reliability, and safety that was once unimaginable in even the most prestigious high-dollar luxury battleship. This is, of course, a good thing--but as we've sometimes lamented here at Car Lust, all of this sophistication also means that there's not as much of a place for the do-it-yourself mechanic as there once was.
The same is true of motorsports. These days, racing is something it usually takes serious dollars to get into. NASCAR "stock car" racing, once the home of self-taught "good ol' boys" who race-prepared Hudson flathead straight sixes by the seat of their pants in corner garages, no longer has much (if anything) to do with "stock" cars--that is, cars you can actually buy at your local dealer and drive on the street. Today's NASCARs are purpose-built racing vehicles costing millions to design and build. Indy cars, F1, endurance racing--these are even less accessable to the non-professional. There's little room these days for the hot rod assembled from junkyard components, the dirt track racer built in someone's garage--hell, even Soap Box Derby cars have been commodified and standardized and come in easy-to-assemble kit form!
So what's left for the backyard automaker? Is there still such a thing as entry-level motorsports for people who design and build their own iron and don't have a degree in mechanical engineering or corporate sponsors writing checks for them? Is there a class of competition cars that can be built by motivated amateur craftsmen of average skill using ordinary materials, hand tools, and kitchen utensils found in the typical American home?
I'm happy to say that there is still such a thing, if you know where to look for it. One example is the sport of cyclekart racing.