I get asked a lot, So how can I get into Desert Racing? My reply is usually, How much money do you have?
Ultimately any type of racing costs money. It would be nice to have the budgets of some of the NASCAR teams. At any rate we asked a desert racer what it costs and this is the list we came up with:
First you need a truck to start with, and then it must have a certified rollcage built. Not only is this essential for keeping you alive in the event of a roll-over, but every desert racing sanctioning body requires them. You can expect to spend about $15,000 for the truck and cage work. You are also going to need fiberglass body panels like front fenders and rear bedsides. This is about $2.5k.
The only way to compete in desert racing is with adequate suspension travel and performance. There are almost too many options for this area depending on the truck and the class you choose to race in, but you can expect to pay about $10,000 for this and that does not include shocks. Again depending on the route you choose for your suspension this will determine how much you need to spend for shocks. Our FOX coil-overs were over $600 a piece for our Project Desert Ranger Prerunner.
Another piece of safety equipment is the fuel cell. Dont think you can use the factory gas tank that mounts under the bed when you go racing. That is like driving a ticking time bomb. Along with the safety aspect of the fuel cell it also makes it possible for quick fill ups when you head to the pits. A fuel cell will run you about $500 to $1500. Now that you have the fuel cell you have to get the fuel to the engine, this can add another $700-$800 dollars for the pump, regulator, and fuel lines and fittings.
Since we are on the subject of safety, some of the other items you will need are, window nets ($300), racing seats ($600), racing belts ($500) and a fire extinguisher for the cab of the truck. You will also need one for your pit while you are fuelling up.
Your personal safety is handled by a full body fire suit and helmet. The suit can run you between $200-$1,000 and the helmets are around $600 each.
Other features of the interior of your race truck will be a removable steering wheel ($150-$300), $400 for gauges, $350 for the shifter, a Parker Pumper to pump fresh air into your helmet ($250), and a race radio with push-to-talk for about $1,500.
Most people know it is hot in the desert so something that is needed to keep you going is a tranny cooler, this can run you about $300-$600.
Now it is time to tackle the electrical portion of this. Wiring the truck to operate can run you about $800 with wiring and switches. You will need some sort of off-road lighting for the front and the back. The front you would probably want to run HIDs since they are the highest performing lights you can buy. These are about $1000 a pair, and you will most likely need at least 2 pair. For the rear you might spend about $300 for brake lights, tail lights, an amber dust light and if you run in a Slower Class you are required to have a rear facing blue light. This tells faster cars that you are in one of these clases.
One of the single most important choices you will make is what tires to run. You are racing over a bumpy course; you are going to get flats. So along with the 4 tires on the truck, you are going to need some spares. This might include a complete set of 4 tires and wheels. I am not going to put a price on this because there are too many choices to make.
Well this pretty much sums up the build of the truck, but this is only part of racing. Now it is race day, and there are a whole other set of expenses to consider.
You have the expense of traveling to the race. It will be more than one day so unless you have a trailer, you would need to book a room. You need a pit crew. Hopefully you can convince your friends to come out and help. You need a slue of spare parts at each pit and gas. Youll need jacks, tools, and fire extinguishers at each pit.
Then we have the entry fees. This can run you over $1000 just to get into the race.
I know there are a ton of things I probably missed, but this gives you an idea of what our heros in desert racing must go through and finance just so we can go out and enjoy watching them race.