Road racing, also known as sports car racing, is wheel to wheel racing on paved permanent windy, twisty race tracks known as “road courses”. The tracks are typically between 1.5 and 4 miles long with a variety of left and right corners, some with elevation changes. Each road race course is a unique test of driver and race car setup.
Road race cars are classed according to potential (engine size, allowable modifications, and open/closed wheel body). Open wheel race cars look like smaller versions of Indy 500 cars and have engines from 1.2L to 2.0L. The fastest open wheel cars can reach speeds of 200 mph, while the slowest cars, Formula V are economical, fun to drive open cockpit race cars.
Closed wheel race cars are all types of cars with fenders to cover the wheels. Improved Touring race cars LOOK like your typical street driven sports or economy car, but have safety cages and some minor modifications like through exhausts. Production and Grand Touring (GT) classes allow more modifications and attract the self taught engineer types. Owners typically make suspension changes and are allowed many engine modifications. Although GT and Prod cars resemble their street car cousins, they are all-out race cars.
Road races are typically between 35 and 45 minutes long with no required pit stops (but you can make pit stops – you just lose time). Cars start the race based on their qualifying time from earlier session(s). An interesting note is that road races are held RAIN or SHINE, which means every once in awhile road racers switch to their rain tires and compete on a wet, sloppy and sometimes slippery track.
If you want to get started, come to a road race event at WWTR to look around. ALL St. Louis Region Road Race events are FREE and open to the public. [The events are also family friendly. Children under supervision are welcome. MOST drivers are more than happy to show you their car and explain why they chose a particular car or class.]
If you decide that Road Racing is for you, remember that you will need equipment and HELP, not just a race car. Organize your family and friends to make your own race team. Enlist the help of your mechanical friends to help with car preparation. You can never have too many people helping with a race team. Even your Aunt or Uncle can be a great help to your team. Have them setup a BBQ and feed the crew lunch. Believe me it will be appreciated.
SEVERAL members of the St. Louis Region are accomplished road racers and are happy to mentor a new team. Contact Jim Lynch or Peter Zekert if you would like mentoring to convert your group of family & friends into a racing team.
What will you need besides a race car? A trailer and a tow vehicle to get your race car to the race track. These are big purchases, so make sure to check with your friends before making a purchase. You’ll also need a full assortment of tools, a jack, jack stands, and (to protect from the sun) a canopy. When you find your race car, you’ll also need an assortment of properly dated safety gear, including a nomex fire retardant suit and a helmet.
This may seem like a LOT of equipment and preparation needed to go racing. Yes, it can be overwhelming, so we recommend joining an existing team as a volunteer to “learn the ropes”. Many tricks of the trade can be learned spending a weekend on an existing crew, plus you’ll be making new friends along the way.
WHAT if I really like the idea of racing, but don’t want to own a car or all of the equipment. Can I rent a race car? YES. Race car rentals exist and are relatively common. If you’re interested in this feel free to reach out to us at our Contact Page and we can get you in touch with with someone.
Touring Classes (T1-T4, and Improved Touring)
Touring classes typically refer to lightly modified production cars, or cars built for touring the public roads. In the SCCA Touring 1-4 still very much resemble street-going cars and sport full interiors. The only modifications which are allowed are the required safety features and some minor performance modifications to help with class equalization.
When the Majors and Super-tour level cars “age out” of their touring classes, they often find a second life as a regional-only “Improved touring” car. The Improved Touring or “IT” classes are allowed a few more modifications, but rule sets are tightly controlled for the budget and competition conscious.
Production class racecars started life as street cars so they tend to look much like cars you would see on the street. The classes are allowed a range of performance modifications while retaining their original design, structure and drive layout. E Production (EP), F Production (FP) and H Production (HP) are the current production-based classes at the Majors level.
Grand Touring (GT1-GT3, GTL)
Grand Touring classes are the top of the production-based classes. Though these cars are “based” on cars you might see on the road, they are usually purpose built from the ground up.
The fastest of these classes is GT-1, and cars in this class can top 200 mph on the largest tracks the SCCA races on. The other end of the spectrum – the GT-3 and “GT-Lite” classes – have smaller displacement engines but still put down formidable lap times because of the allowances to the chassis and tires.
Prototypes (P1, P2)
These cars are purpose-built racecars with no resemblance to cars you see on dealer lots. Sometimes these cars may have a place for a passenger, but most of the time they are single-seat, resembling the cars one might see at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Because of liberal rules on aerodynamics and lightweight motorcycle engines which power these cars, they are among the fastest cars on any given weekend at an SCCA road race.
Formula Cars (FA, FB, FC, FE, F5, FF, FV)
“Formula Car” typically refers to an open-cockpit, open-wheel (no fenders) car built to a specific set of rules specifying overall dimensions, weight, and engine size. Each class will be named “Formula” plus a designator depending on the particular class rules.
The faster of these classes including Formula Atlantic – the fastest class in SCCA Road Racing – allow wings and other aerodynamic features. On the lower end of the formula car speed spectrum, Formula F, Formula 500 and Formula Vee do not allow wings.
Spec Classes (SM, SRF, SRF3, FM, FE)
“Spec” classes are made up of the same types and models of cars using the same parts – this way development expenses are kept to a minimum and driving + setup knowledge should be the key factor in how to win, rather than figuring out a special engine build, special aerodynamics or the newest car. SCCA Spec classes include a sedan, an open-cockpit “sports racer” and formula car classes.
Because of the reduced costs and equalized competition – spec classes are some of the most popular in the SCCA. “Spec Miata” and “Spec Racer Ford” often see 40 or more cars on the grid at events.
Type Classes (AS, BS)
“Type” Classes refer to sets of classes for particular types of sedans. For the SCCA this means “American Sedan” and “B-Spec.” Each of these classes have different types and models of cars, but with rule sets for each to equalize competition as much as possible.
American Sedan is for American-origin coupes and sedans including Mustangs and Camaros, and B-Spec is for small displacement economy cars including the Mazda 2, The Honda Fit and Chevrolet Sonic and Mini Cooper.
Outside of the Hoosier Super Tour and SCCA Majors events – regional series are run to crown local champions. For regions running these events, they are allowed to run many classes that are not eligible for the higher series. These include the “Improved Touring” classes, Spec classes and classes for older cars frequently referred to with a “club” name like, “Club Formula Continental.”
Super Touring® STL and STU
“Super Touring” cars are a bit like they sound – production based “touring” care but with a few more enhancements than the first set of touring classes allow. There are two Super Touring classes in SCCA Majors and Super Tour competition: Super Touring Lite (STL) and Super Touring Ultimate (STU).
STL is made up of small-displacement economy sedans and sports cars, and STL is made up of more performance-oriented cars. you will often see each of these class cars sporting wings and other extreme enhancements.
Event Online Registration
Read below for information on entering our events. St. Louis Region uses Motorsportsreg.com for its online registration.
We highly recommend pre-registering online. This will help us manage the event size (number of participants and number of race cars).
Road races are run on Saturday and Sunday from approximately 8am until 5pm. Open test days are usually held on the Friday before the event, AND these test days can be used as driver education events for new road racer.
The schedules change slightly with each race event, but in general, practice and qualifying sessions are in the morning, with races in the afternoon.
Saturday evenings are the worker/racer/guest dinner and “social hour”. Everyone is welcome Saturday evening for food and beverages – EVEN if you simply want to learn more about racing. Sit down and ask questions. Everyone is friendly and we’ll help you get started.
One of the most exciting ways to experience Road Racing is to become a volunteer Corner Marshal on one of the corner stations. Race drivers rely on the flags exhibited at corner stations and on the marshals who display the flags. YOU can be a corner marshal, 10-20 feet from the race cars in a protective bunker.
There are a LOT of jobs that need to be done in order for a road race to happen, and you can be a part of it even if you don’t own a race car. Besides Corner Marshals (the closest volunteers to the action), volunteers are needed in: Timing and Scoring (great view and it’s heated and air conditioned); Hospitality (where the snacks are); Grid (line the cars up for the next session and talk to the drivers/see the cars); Registration (sign in the drivers, crew and guests); Course Marshals (drive around the course and re-supply each of the corner stations); Technical Inspection (run the race cars over the scales and perform tech inspections); and Safety Car/Pace Car Driver (ride along with the pace car driver and operate the radio communicating with central control).
AND if you really want to get involved, join the Steward-In-Training program to become a referee for the event. Everyone wants Safe, Fun and Fair racing, and the stewards are here to make sure everything is Safe, Fun and Fair (along with the people in Tech Inspection).
ARE you a photo junkie? Do YOU like to post pictures? We can get you all access to shoot the best photos and place them on Social Media. Contact Juan Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about becoming a race track photographer.
Provide fair, fun, competitive and safe events with excellent customer service to bring increased and sustained participation in events and developing leadership in the St. Louis SCCA.
St. Louis Region SCCA reserves the right to refuse service to any party.