Getting Started in Racing
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The Benefits of Racing School & the Steps that Follow
There’s one thing you need to know before you set foot inside a racecar – once you finally get the
opportunity to push yourself and a car to the limit around a racetrack, you’re going to want to do it
again. Many might say that the experience is like a rollercoaster, but that’s not entirely true. Driving a
racecar is massively better than riding on a rollercoaster. It’s high-speed, it’s full of high g forces, and
best of all, you’re the one in control. This makes racing and performance driving a very demanding task
if you want to go fast, and you’re definitely going to want to go as fast as you possibly can. So when you
finally get to fulfill the dream of participating in Allen Berg Racing Schools (once, twice, three times, or
more for many students), where do you go from there? While some drivers think they’re plenty capable
of moving up the racing ladder without outside help, many of them forget that an established racing
school can open doors for you in the motorsports world.
One of the most obvious but still most important benefits of participating in a racing school is the ability
to earn a racing license. Just because you’ve hit 150MPH on a desert freeway doesn’t mean that you’re a
skilled driver. You and your buddies may have a lot of experience flying through low traffic canyon and
mountain roads in your streetcar, but this again hardly amounts to anything to anyone in motorsports.
This is because being a fast or “brave” driver isn’t enough.
A racing school carries the title of “school” because it is in fact meant to educate and prepare you for
the future. You learn advanced driving techniques that put you in a completely different league of
driving skill from the every man. You learn the concepts and develop the feel for finding a car’s limits,
and how to keep it under control when you exceed those limits. Lastly, you learn processes and
procedures. Building an understanding of flags, passing protocols, racing rules, and more, will prevent
you from ever being “that guy” that performs a screw-up that potentially ends your race prematurely,
earns you a penalty, or hurting someone.
Racing schools come with a curriculum and, like any top-tier university, the credits you earn do indeed
transfer. Every racing sanctioning body knows and understands how in-depth a racing school works to
train its students. For this reason, they allow schools to recommend you to become licensed for racing.
It’s simple – do well in school, graduate, and move on to start your racing career.
One of the most productive things any driver can do to further their career is to set their ego aside. If
you walk into the office of a potential sponsor and announce that you’re the best driver out there and
are a worthy investment, you better be able to back up that statement. If this company that you’re
pitching to popped up on your radar, there’s a good chance they’ve received sponsorship requests from
at least 50 other drivers before you. So what makes you any different? At the very least, completion of a
racing school is like having a college degree, it gets your foot in the door. This especially rings true for
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As a team owner, I need hard evidence that any driver that gets behind the wheel of one of my cars is
qualified to bring it back to the pits in one piece. I do research, I make phone calls, I look up your past
results in go karts or autocross, and I even check what’s published on social media about you and by
you. These items combined can say a lot about what sort of driver you are, and what skills and
qualifications earn you the right to drive. Beyond all of that, each of my drivers and potential drivers
must fall under one of two categories to even be considered – they have completed a racing school, or
they are going to attend a racing school.
So you’ve done your homework, you had a blast at school, and now you’re overwhelmed with where to
go next. While some may want to go take part in local auto crosses or club events, others are shooting
for a full-time racing career. The first item to consider is budget. Racing isn’t cheap and will get
exponentially more expensive the higher level you go. I’m going to cover just wheel-to- wheel avenues of
racing, but know that there are plenty of autocross, time trial, and time attack series out there if that’s
One of the most affordable options with some of the best racing is the Spec Miata class. No matter what
part of the country you’re in, no matter what sanctioning body is running the show, and no matter what
type of club race it is, there’s a good chance that there’s a Spec Miata class in the area with 20 car fields
and greater. In this class, race cars can be found for cheap, or converted from street NA and NB Miatas
with bolt-on parts. We’re talking a budget of $10,000 or less to be race-ready if you own the car. If
you’re not interested in owning and wrenching on your own car, many teams provide arrive-and- drive
programs for as little as $1,000 per day, though that price can double or triple real quick if you want to
be a front runner. If you want to go pro racing, a Miata may still be in your future. The MX-5 Cup series
just introduced the latest generation Miata, delivering fields of 30 to 40 cars per event. Costs go up
significantly for pro racing, but so does the competition, the quality of the teams, and especially the
travel distance to some of the country’s greatest racetracks. If you do well here, you may find yourself
on the path to IMSA Prototype cars.
If tin-top racing isn’t your thing, the world of open-wheel racing still holds plenty of options for you.
Whether you’re looking to top out at the ranks of Indy Car and Formula One, or take part in some of the
fastest club racing in the country, there are a ton of options to start from (too many, in my opinion).
Regardless of what your end goal is, Mazda has played a huge role in developing open-wheel racing
series in the United States. To this end, you’ll find that Formula Mazda can serve as an excellent starting
point for both club racing and pro racing. I’ll add the disclaimer that I am biased here, as this car was my
first step out of racing school and is what I currently own and support as a team owner of Parsons
Racing. Racers will always come across the hurdles of properly budgeting their season, which is where
Formula Mazda trumps its competition. Let’s run some numbers.
If you choose to jump straight into the Pro Mazda Championship on the Mazda Road to Indy, you’re
looking at a budget of approximately $500,000, give or take $100,000 depending on how competitive
you want to be and what additional items the team can provide. This series offers fierce competition,
paired with great opportunities for those that play their cards right. F2000 fills the step below Pro
Mazda, serving as a more affordable platform to develop experience and get your sponsorship’s in order.
However, you’ll still be invoiced approximately $250,000 to race a season in the USF2000 series, plus or
These prices are of course for national points championships, which means travel and transport across
the country. The Pacific F2000 series costs about half or less than half of USF2000, and is a great starting
point for drivers to prepare themselves for the national series in the same car. Finally, we’re back to
Formula Mazda. This car offers greater performance per dollar than nearly any other racecar out there,
with a seat in the Formula Car Challenge or SCCA Majors seasons costing between $40,000 and $60,000.
In this car and in these series, you can compete as a hobby for as long as you please, or shoot for a
season championship and an opportunity to reap the benefits of the Mazda Road to Indy and Mazda
Road to 24 scholarships. Although the car utilizes yesterday’s technologies, it prepares you to drive
nearly anything else you can get your hands on. Want to move over to F2000 or Pro Mazda? With some
seat time behind the wheel of a Formula Mazda, you’ll find no problem transitioning over.
Start Making Calls
Any seasoned driver or team owner could write an entire book on what options you have after
completing a racing school. As a driver trying to figure out where to go next, you must be proactive. No
one is going to call you up to fill a seat without you doing some serious work to earn the opportunity.
Team owners and sanctioning body officials are more accessible than you’d think, and most of them will
happily give you their honest opinion of what next move would best serve you and your ultimate goals.
At the very least, take advantage of the resources and contacts you’ve already built thus far. If you’re
reading this, you’ve likely participated in Allen Berg Racing Schools or are considering it. Allen and the
ABRS staff are excellent resources for advice and at times some important introductions. You can also
feel free to reach out to me for additional information by visiting
http://parsonsracing.com/contact.html. So get out there, start visiting race events, make calls, write e-
mails, and visit some race teams. There are racing opportunities everywhere, but you’re going to have to
seek them out and make them happen.
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