Building a Focus Midget Race Car
Modify an Existing Midget
If you don’t have the experience, know-how, resources and confidence to modify and assemble a race car … we suggest you buy a complete car either new or used. You may be miles ahead, with much less grief, if you purchase an assembled, ready to race car.
But, building your own USAC Ford Focus race car … from an existing used Midget … is a viable option for racers and families with the right experience and resources. I am a big fan of this strategy for families with a racing background, well equipped garage and limited budgets. Because you can get into this series in an affordable fashion if you make smart buying choices and put in the sweat.
The first thing to do is understand what is a “roller,” “chassis kit” and “bare chassis” … and decide which one you want (in other words, how much of a project are you willing to take on).
At a minimum, a “roller” should have a chassis, body panels, rear end, rear suspension, fuel tank, wheels, front axle, front suspension, nerf bars, bumpers, brake lines, etc. Each seller has a different idea of what they want to sell, and what they want to keep … so it “may or may not” have gauges, master cylinder(s), brake calipers, hubs, rotors, shocks, springs, pedals, linkage, etc.
A “chassis kit” should be the chassis, body panels, rear suspension arms/rods, front axle, front suspension rods, nerf bars & bumpers.
A “bare chassis” is what it implies … just the chassis.
A brand new bare chassis is $2800 and a complete new car is $35,000+ … so it’s not the chassis that is expensive … it’s all the parts. It is amazing how this “little stuff” ads up … so be careful. A lot of “rolling race cars” and “chassis kits” are still in garages because the buyer didn’t understand what he was getting into. The best “deals” … are usually pretty complete rollers.
If you have decided the best route for you is buying a partial car and putting in the Focus powerplant … the next thing to do is scour the classified ads for used rollers or chassis kits.
Online Midget Classified Ads can be found at:
The third thing to do … is the math. You will want to add up the cost of the roller, or chassis kit, plus powerplant … and the parts to complete the car. Then compare this to buying a complete car and see if you can save some money going this route.
The cost of a complete new Focus Midget engine package is only $6995 ... which is less than some full midget engine rebuilds. A brand new long block is only $3995! Roush Yates Engines is the official supplier. So any used engine deal would need to be pretty sweet to beat that. But they are out there. Occasionally you’ll see a complete engine for $4-5k in the classified ads. Want more engine information? Use the menu at the top of the web-site to go to our “The Focus Race Engine” pages.
Add your engine package and roller cost together … and do
your best to figure out what is needed to make it complete …then add a fudge
factor. Is that number acceptable? How does it compare to buying a complete car
of the same brand, year and caliber? This
route may save you several thousand dollars. And it may be a great experience
for you (and your driver) to put the car together. But, only you can decide if buying in pieces
and putting the car together makes sense for you.
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 car from a new chassis, you can buy 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.
Building a Focus Midget from Frame Up
If you don’t have the experience, know-how, resources, time or desire to build a car from scratch … we suggest you either:
1. Buy a complete car used.
2. Buy a roller or chassis kit … add the Focus Midget engine package and complete the car.
3. Buy a turn-key race car from one of the many dealers and/or manufacturers.
Unless you really know what you’re doing … you will be miles ahead, with much less grief, if you purchase a turn-key … or partially assembled … race car.
If you have the experience, know-how, resources, time or desire to build a car from scratch … you don’t need much from this web-site, except:
1. Guidance on which chassis to go with.
2. Resources to get the parts you need.
Here you go …
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 and observations.
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.
Our company offers a complete line of chassis, bodies and components:
Star Racing Supply
Manager: Bill Floyd
Phone: (916) 914-1284 ext 201
Other good sources for chassis, bodies and components are:
Beast Race Cars www.beastcars.com
Spike Race Cars www.spikechassis.com