Desert Race Dilemma – Getting started with a Class 11 or Old 5-1600?

SmorrowKCORRA

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First off, I live in Kansas City. Not the mecca of desert racing that you guys think we have. Sure, just a short 25 hour or so drive West and I can select all sorts of places to race. But that’s not entirely possible for me. Desert racing is a longtime dream, I’m approaching 53, not getting any younger.

I have discussed this in some detail with Vintage racer and fellow KC native Fast Eddie. I appreciate all of his InSite. He has many years of desert racing under his belt. Our race budgets are not equal though, lol and I have to spend wisely and pick an event or two for the season.

But I am still sort of at a standstill for a decision.

I’m an old Midwest short course racer, raced CORR many years ago, I own and operate the Kansas City Off Road Racing Association, so I am not entirely new to VWs or off road racing. I’ve owned VWs since I was 15. Drag raced them, built street cars, and off road raced them.

My thought was to purchase a used class 11 bug/project, make repairs, add whatever didn’t come in the sale and then head South to Texas for a desert race with TDRA (12 hour drive) as a test/shakedown race. After that, look to a Nevada/West race. Season one budget would be done at that point, and all of my vacation from work, would be used up.

Fast Eddie added to my decision making issue. I have an old SODA 5-1600 short course baja bug. I’ve raced a couple short course races over in Illinois with it a couple years ago, recently an SCCA rally cross race. So, it’s a runner, and if I can ever get any 1600 cars to attend one of our KCORRA events, I will run it with them.

So, the other race vehicle option….update the 5-1600 short course car. Freshen the single port engine (lower compression), swap out to a bigger fuel cell, rebuild some shocks, update safety equipment, add a few other things and bam, its done. Cost wise, probably a cheaper option.

The reason for the class 11. It’s a basically stock bug. I can make it street legal and drive it to work.
I can prep it for some racing. I can race in the macho man class and learn from ground zero. Plus, in race form, they just look cool!

So, that’s the dilemma. Appreciate any thoughts, suggestions.
Scott
 

Bro_Gill

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For your case, either would be fine. 11 will be harder to prep and maintain simply because you can't use race parts, but the class is epic and VWs rule. Since you aren't chasing points, the 5-1600 is a good starter car since it isn't that expensive to run as a hobby type car and you already have one. It is easier to maintain and race parts make it a good car to drive without fear of really tearing it up. The suspension parts are generally tougher than the speeds the cars are capable of. Plus, if you ever get the itch to go race in either a small Mexico race or the grand daddy of them all, it is a good car for either of those plans since there are plenty of them in Mexico.
 
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I lived through KC winters five decades ago in a bug with no heat or windshield washer: update the 5/1600. You have it and know it. But make sure any existing mods don't run afoul of current rules, like too much sheet metal removed, first.

Not too many run 5/1600 or 11 anymore, I see Best In The Desert doesn't even offer them in 2019, but here's BITD's rulebook online: http://bitd.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/2019_CTRuleBook_.pdf, for safety regs, etc. You would have to run Class 5 at a disadvantage or the Sportsman class. BITD is top notch, but expensive: Parker is $2200 for Pro classes, $1100 for Sportsman, IIRC.

SCORE rulebook: Introduction – SCORE Race Info

There's smaller groups in AZ, CA, MX and UT with bigger fields and smaller entry fees too.

Good luck and have fun!
 

CMA GUMBY

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Is it possible in KC to street legal your 5/1600? Still would be a better choice since you're familiar with the car and it's already "sorted out". Just my .02.
 

SmorrowKCORRA

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Is it possible in KC to street legal your 5/1600? Still would be a better choice since you're familiar with the car and it's already "sorted out". Just my .02.

Possibly with a "special vehicle" title. Which I dont have. Sort of how they title sandrails. But yes, that could work.
 
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But you need heat or a/c except for about four days (two in Spring, two in Fall, IIRC) and will a 5/1600 even have a windshield for long? ;)
 

BANNEDFROMBAJA

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you already have your answer 5/1600!
strip it, Prep it, and bring it back to life.
 

Rory

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Eddie gave you some good advice. The money spent getting the 5/1600 ready to race desert would most likely be cheaper than purchasing a GOOD class 11. Eddie will steer you in the right direction, he knows what you will need to be competitive. Don't cut corners on the 5/1600 when it comes to quality parts, it will be the difference from sitting at the finish line or waiting to be towed out of the desert. Post up some pic's of your 5/1600 and GOOD LUCK!
 

hendersoned

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Come to Primm NV in April, two day short course, 55 miles a day, your car is probably pretty close to ready. SNORE and MORE get a good little crowd of 5-1600 cars.
 

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Wendell #527

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C11s are way cool, get total respect from all of us. But. For pure driving fun I’d go 5-1600. Beating the piss out of yourself for that many hours in C11 takes a special kind of person. Most of us would enjoy the better suspension of 5-1600. The guys racing C11 at rough tracks like out in Barstow are downright sadistic or something.
 

yamaducci

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Definitely go with the car that has the best suspension and safety. And wear a kidney belt in either class.
5-1600!
 

bajadreamer

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Keep us posted if you end up going to Texas to race, I live in Oklahoma and have been itching for an excuse to go see what that’s all about down there, I was a volunteer for a multi trophy truck team in BITD for 5-6 seasons.. I can’t afford to go anymore and I miss it BAD.... I’m almost 50 and I gotta get as close to the dream as possible so if it works out maybe my brother and I can help you out in the pits or whatever... anyway good luck brother sounds great either way... don’t give up!!!!!!!

“Life is Racing, everything else is waiting... just waiting.” (Quote;Steve Mqueen)
 

SmorrowKCORRA

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Keep us posted if you end up going to Texas to race, I live in Oklahoma and have been itching for an excuse to go see what that’s all about down there, I was a volunteer for a multi trophy truck team in BITD for 5-6 seasons.. I can’t afford to go anymore and I miss it BAD.... I’m almost 50 and I gotta get as close to the dream as possible so if it works out maybe my brother and I can help you out in the pits or whatever... anyway good luck brother sounds great either way... don’t give up!!!!!!!

“Life is Racing, everything else is waiting... just waiting.” (Quote;Steve Mqueen)

I will keep you posted for sure!
 

QurtysLyn

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Go with the 5-16, since you already have it, and then start recruiting people for short course, that way you can race it in both places.

Texas and Utah are going to be your closest for desert races.
 
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