Let us do the math for you: 3,600 pounds ÷ 800 horsepower = 4.5 pounds/horsepower.
That’s a formula for serious performance. And that’s what a car from NASCAR’s Sprint (formerly Winston) Cup or Xfinity (Busch, Nationwide) series delivers. It’s a tempting endorphin trip for not a lot of money.
Such racecars are plentiful, having been built in quantity by major teams for each driver and a variety of track types with, in most cases, backups on hand. Inevitably, the racing season ends, and rules and technologies change for the next year. The result: more available cars.
Experienced drivers like Dan Davis, editor of Victory Lane Magazine, note that these discarded NASCAR machines are a lot of fun but can be a handful. They have abundant power but relatively narrow slicks, so traction is a constant challenge. The inertia of a 3,600 pound car affects cornering, and more important, its braking.
“In road racing they eat drivelines and tires,” Davis says.
Dan Verstuyft, who regularly races an ex-Davey Allison/Dale Jarrett UPS Ford from the Robert Yates Racing shop, offers firsthand advice: “[They’re] fun to drive and good handling cars but you have to be careful with the brakes. They’ll spin the tires in most of the gears.”
That’s especially true when they’re raced on the West Coast, where bias-ply tires are used. (East Coast racers use radials.)
Organized competition for cars retired from top-level series is spotty, with owners sometimes getting together to make up a class at a sanctioned event. As track day cars, though, they are superb. Parts are readily available and the technology employed is well established.
The appeal is in their entry cost: mid-five figures even for track-ready cars built by established teams.
Let’s look at a few potential opportunities. Ignore the model names; in the last decades they’re using standardized sheet metal, renamed to fit the manufacturers’ marketing plans.
At Mecum’s Kissimmee, Fla., auction in January 2016, an ex-Carl Edwards 2010 season Ford Fusion in road race configuration (which is what can be used most readily in historic competition and track days) with a Robert Yates 803-horsepower engine sold for $35,200. That works out to about $44 per measured horsepower.
A less attractive story is told by a 2010 Rusty Wallace Racing Toyota Camry, driven by Rusty’s son, Steven. It crossed the block at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction in 2011, freshly prepared and restored in B-J commemorative livery; it sold for a startling $82,500. That can happen at WestWorld, even for a car with top-10 road racing history at Quebec, Mexico City and Road America. Three years later it was back at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale. where it brought $62,700. But at Mecum’s November 2016 auction in Dallas it brought only $11,000.
Steven Wallace isn’t Rusty, and he isn’t a NASCAR legend, which is an important distinction. The performance, however, is a huge bargain at the Mecum Dallas price.
If you’re interested in buying your own retired racecar, Verstuyft says that the following are most important:
- Documented history of success and recognized drivers
- Road-course build and setup, because that’s where they’ll be exercised at speed
- Correct period configuration, including drivetrain and brakes
- A solid head on the driver’s shoulders, because they are powerful and fast.
Victory Lane Magazine (in print and on the web at www.victorylane.com) and Dan Verstuyft’s www.stockcarraceseries.com have more information and links to groups and events.