Your decision to buy a new or used Focus Midget will be influenced by many factors. Your budget, used cars available in the market, selling price of new versus used, brand, features, condition, location, support and other factors should play a role in your decision.
If your budget allows you to buy new or used … then the decision will be affected by your perception of the pros and cons of each option. We will do our best to give you good advice on this important purchase.
First … get clear on your goals. Ask yourself these questions and you should get more clarity on which route to go.
1. Is this series a short term “stepping stone” or do you plan to be in the series for several years?
2. Are you racing for fun … or to build a young driver’s resume?
3. Is having a car capable of winning important?
4. Do you care about resale value?
5. Do you need tuning support from a chassis manufacturer or dealer?
6. Is getting a car the exact way you want it important?
IMPORTANT RULE CHANGE: Starting in 2011, the motor plate rule was opened up to allow full midget chassis to be legal. The only key differences is a full midget is 2-4 inches longer, primarily in the cockpit area, making the wheelbase longer. This offers some key benefits:
1. The cockpit is bigger in a full midget by 2-3 inches. Very helpful for larger drivers.
2. There are a lot of used full midgets for sale. Now they fit legally into the Focus series too.
3. If you're building a new car, you can build the chassis as a full midget, run it in the Young Guns and/or Focus series, then move it up to the full midget series with the same car.
4. Also, if your chassis is a full midget chassis, you have more potential buyers when you resell.
How we rate the brands:
Disclaimer: We only race on the West Coast … so we don’t see how various brands perform in other parts of the country. The following is just our experience, observations and opinions. They are listed alphabetically.
Beast, owned by legendary car builder Bob East, is the most common. Therefore more parts are available, resale is easier. Beast cars have won more races than any other brand. We believe this to be the best basic chassis design … but read further.
Edmunds Autoresearch, originally owned by racing legend Don Edmunds, has been owned and operated by Jeff Wahl for many years now. Jeff builds quality race cars, but not many of them these days. In 2004, we bought a used 2002 car, built specifically for the Focus series. What a nice piece. Well built, strong, quality. These cars use the wishbone suspension that is an older, simpler design. We like it for Junior Focus, but tend to go with the newer suspension set-ups on our unrestricted Focus Midgets.
Gerhardt Race Cars, available through Western Speed, are
Kent or KPC … built Steve Kent of
Spike, owned by legendary car builder John Godfrey, builds the best dirt cars in Midget racing. We can’t honestly say how well the pavement cars work, because we have only seen one race. The one we see run, is competitive. I would feel confident in saying their combo car would also be a very good car.
Stealth, originally founded by John Godfrey, went through several evolutions of ownership, then went out of business in 2008. When John Godfrey owned and operated it, Stealth was a good running company. That has been quite awhile ago. Regardless of era, most of the cars built by Stealth were quality, competitive race cars. Stealth made good dirt cars, good combo cars and their clones of the Beast pavement cars were good too. John Godfrey’s new chassis company, Spike Chassis, makes placement parts for Stealth cars.
Stealth built a “tweener” Focus Midget chassis for our team in the 2005-2006 era … which was the Combo cage (tall) with a pavement chassis style kicked up rear frame rails, pavement suspension pick up points and an integral anti roll bar that connected to the trailing arms. They sold these cars to other customers too. We still have one of these chassis used, but don’t race it. They were better than a combo car on pavement (all things being equal) when there was no weight difference. Today these chassis are at a slight disadvantage since they have to run 40# heavier … just like true pavement chassis cars do.
We do not have any experience with TCR, Hawk and other brands to give you any real advice.
Buying a Used Race Car
Buying a Used Race Car
If your budget dictates you buy used … your focus (no pun intended) should be on getting the used race car that works best within your budget. Your first decision is to decide what your budget is … and see what cars are available within that budget. You may find deals for less than you planned … and you may get a rude awakening that what you want (need?) is more than you planned to spend.
Then you need to decide to either stay with your budget and get the best car you can … or increase your budget somewhat to get what you want.
You can buy good used cars that are very competitive ... even championship caliber. So you do not have to buy new to get a competitive race car. So buying a used race car is a viable solution for many racers looking to enter the USAC Ford Focus Midget series. Existing racers in the series may be selling their current car to get a newer one, and racers advancing up to USAC midgets or Sprint cars may have their cars for sale.
You can find out about used race cars for sale by:
Ø Visiting a race near you.
Ø Looking at online midget classified ads.
Ø Talking to a dealer that sells new cars (often has, or knows of, used cars for sale).
Ø Talking to the Regional USAC Series Director (often knows of used cars for sale).
Online Midget Classified Ads can be found at:
Regional USAC Series Directors:
Key factors to look at when buying a used race car:
1. What brand is it?
(This may be key to achieving your performance goals. But also ease of finding parts, resale value, etc.)
2. Is it a wide body or narrow body?
(Wide is newer design and offers increased chassis rigidity.)
3. Is it a Dirt Car, Combo Car, Tweener Car or Pavement Car?
4. What type of rear suspension does it use?
Does it have an anti roll bar built in? Front or rear?
(We feel either can be made to work, but rear is the most common.)
5. What year is the chassis?
(Nothing wrong with running a 4-7 year old car … just be clear what you’re paying for.)
6. Can you find out how many races and track days are really on it?
(Nothing wrong with running a car with 100, 200+ days on it … just be clear what you’re paying for.)
7. Does it come with spares?
Are these spares … or worn out, broken stuff that should be thrown away?
How much are the spares really worth to the package deal?
8. Are they willing to come help you get going, sort the car out and give you tuning advice?
And if yes, how competitive were they?
9. Can you find out how many races and track days are really on the engine?
(Nothing wrong with running a engine with 50, 75, 100+ days on it … just be clear what you’re paying for. We run ours 150 days, then retire them.)
10. Will the Dealer/Manufacturer have parts available for this brand?
11. Will the Dealer/Manufacturer give me tuning support?
The challenge with any web-site, is we can not teach you “exactly” what to look at … and look out for … when buying a used race car. There are obviously many variables. The best advice we can suggest is to buy from a reputable source, and don’t be afraid to ask around.
Buying a New, Turn Key Car
One advantage of buying new is … well … everything is new. So you know the chassis and parts are in the best condition possible. Another advantage of buying new, budget permitting, you get to get exactly what you want in the way of options, features, brands, colors, etc. The disadvantage is you pay more, and take an immediate hit on resale depreciation.
The biggest advantage of buying new is getting the relationship with the dealer and/or chassis manufacturer. They can help you with set-up, tuning, trouble shooting, etc. I want to suggest “many” dealers and manufacturers will also provide you with similar support, if you buy a brand they sell and buy all of your future parts and supplies from them.
Star Racing Supply (our company) will build you a brand new Focus Midget with a Beast, Kent/KPC or Spike chassis … in pavement, extended pavement, combo or dirt chassis … complete, turn key, race ready for only $35,995.
Carbon Fiber Body
Roush Yates Engine
Winters Rear End
Name Brand Components from Sanders, MPD, DMI & Spike
You add seat, tires & graphics and go racing.
These cars meet the 2010 and 2011 USAC rule changes that are coming.
Our company offers a complete line of chassis, bodies and components:
Star Racing Supply
Manager: Susan Kinnicutt
Sales & Technical Support: Jeff Wennerstrand
Phone: (916) 914-1284
Other good sources for chassis, bodies and components are:
Beast Race Cars www.beastcars.com
Spike Race Cars www.spikechassis.com