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Old 08-12-2009, 05:23 PM
matt matt is offline
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Default How do I get involved in racing in Alberta?

A question I am asked weekly by prospective racers is "This looks awesome! How can I get involved in racing?" It's pretty simple to be honest but not always that easy to explain, this thread will try to address the above question.


First we need to start with who the various groups are - what they do, what the acronyms stand for, etc.

What's with all the acronyms?

The hierarchy of racing in Alberta is fairly simple but you will hear a lot of abbreviated club names and probably not know what any of those mean. Below is a list of those clubs and sanctioning bodies and how they related to each other - this list can be considered hierarchical with the most important folks being at the top.

  • Sanctioning bodies - the below groups provide the grunt to make motor racing happen. All the way from the top (FIA) to the local (WCMA) these guys write rules, provide insurance, review safety, etc. Actual racing is put on by member clubs reviewed after this section.
    • FIA - Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile - Most folks call it the FIA - this is the sanctioning body (group) for all major motor racing in the world. Formula 1, World Rally Championship, World Touring Car, etc... all "sanctioned" by the FIA. These folks provide rules, regulations, governance and all kinds of other bureaucratic stuff that makes racing possible to their member clubs. Each country typically has it's own governing body that is a member of the FIA.

      For more info see www.fia.com

    • ASN Canada FIA - National Sporting Authority Canada Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile - Most folks call it ASN - this is the group delegated authority by the FIA over motor racing in Canada. These folks provide governance for motorsports in Canada including rules, safety decisions, etc. They preside over a few smaller localized sanctioning bodies in Canada.

      For more info see www.asncanada.com

    • WCMA - Western Canada Motorsport Association - Most folks call it the WCMA. This group is the governing body for car racing in the prairie provinces (not BC). They write the competition regulations, pass down safety mandates from ASN / FIA, provide group insurance policies to affiliated clubs, and handle most of the real bureaucratic work. Clubs affiliated with the WCMA are thereby also affiliated with ASN Canada and through that affiliated with the FIA. These guys write the rules essentially.

      For more info see www.wcma.ca

  • Clubs - clubs are the groups that make racing happen in your area. There are a number of them throughout Canada but for the purpose of this thread we'll just focus on Alberta.
    • NASCC - Northern Alberta Sports Car Club - The NASCC has been around for 53 years providing road racing, ice racing, auto-x, solo and all kinds of other crazy things in the Edmonton and Northern Alberta area. They meet the first and third Wednesday of the month at their clubhouse on the west end of edmonton.

      See www.nascc.ab.ca for more info.

    • ARCA - Alberta Race Car Association - ARCA has organized racing events at Race City Motorsport Park with the assistance of other clubs for years. They handle all door to door at RCMP. This year they ran a North/South cooperative points championship with the NASCC.

      See www.albertaracecar.ca for more info.

    • ERC - Edmonton Rally Club - The ERC has been around for a few years formed by a former NASCC member looking to focus on rally in the edmonton area. They put on rally crosses, tsd rallys and competition rallys in the Edmonton / Alberta area.

      See www.edmontonrallyclub.com for more info.

    • ASA - Alberta Solo Association - The ASA was formed in 1993 by a group of folks (former NASCC members included) that wanted to focus on promoting Solo I and Solo II in Alberta. They currently run a series of autocross events at the Griesbach parade square in Edmonton.

      See www.albertasolo.com for more info.

    • Everyone else - There are a ton of other clubs in the Edmonton area that I am leaving out but we've covered the major ones. See the WCMA website for a complete list of affiliated members that offer events and other things.
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Old 08-12-2009, 05:49 PM
matt matt is offline
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Holy shit - that's a ton of clubs! Where do I start?
The easiest way to get started is to figure out what sort of racing you want to do. I recommend you try them all at least once and start at the bottom of the cost structure and work up. That said - my bias is for door-to-door, nothing beats battling it out with other competitors.

Below is a list of racing available in Alberta ordered from most expensive to least expensive.
  • Road racing - done in the summer on dedicated race tracks or temporary street circuits. This is door to door racing as you see it at the Edmonton grand prix, etc. Road racing in Alberta is offered by the NASCC(Northern AB) and ARCA (Southern AB).

    Requirements - the stuff you need to have to go racing
    • Race prepared car with roll cage and all other safety equipment (see http://www.wcma.ca) for rules on car types.
    • Racing license obtained at a WCMA sanctioned school (NASCC and ARCA offer these on a yearly basis)
    • Thick wallet - lots of money will help but isn't completely necessary. Road racing can be pricey but boy is it fun.

    Costs - this is a rough estimate as to what you can spend. Road racing can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. Mostly it's on the expensive side.
    • Initial Costs - what you'll need to spend to get started
      • Safety Gear - $2000 - this covers helmet, hans, suit, boots, underwear, etc. All the stuff that prevents you from snapping your neck, breaking your skull or burning to death (fairly important)
      • Car Prep - $5000 to infinity and beyond, you can spend as little or as much as you like here. All cars require a cage, fire extinguisher and some minimum level of car prep depending on the class you want to run in. See the WCMA general competition regulations for more information on classes and car prep.
      • Licensing - $500 - You will need to take a license school to get your competition license before you can race. These are typically held on a yearly basis.
    • Ongoing costs - what you'll spend to go racing on a regular basis
      • Race Fees - $400 / weekend - typically around the $400 a weekend mark to pay the organizers to go racing. This covers the track rental, setup, marshalling costs (they are volunteers, be nice to them), and other stuff related to going racing like equipment, fire extinguishers, etc.
      • Expendables - $3000 / season to $XXXXXXX - again, you can spend as little or as much as you like here but $2000 should cover a couple of sets of tires and some brake pads / rotors and other things like oil, etc for the season. If you're as cheap as I am - you don't change the oil.

  • Ice racing - done in the winter on frozen lakes in and around the northern alberta area. All car ice racing in Alberta is organized by the NASCC.

    Requirements - the stuff you need to have to go racing
    • Race prepared car with roll cage and all other safety equipment (see http://www.wcma.ca) for rules on car types.
    • Racing license obtained at a WCMA sanctioned ice race license school (NASCC offers once a year)
    • Warm clothes - ice is cold mmmkay?

    Costs - this is a rough estimate as to what you can spend. Ice racing is incredibly cheap when compared to road racing but can still be as expensive as you want to make it.
    • Initial Costs - what you'll need to spend to get started
      • Safety Gear - $300 - this covers helmet and suit. Ice racing requires fire resistant coveralls (nomex, proban) of some sort and an SA2000+ helmet. In 2011 you will need a HANS or equivalent.
      • Car Prep - $2000 to infinity and beyond, you can spend as little or as much as you like here. All cars require a cage, and some minimum level of car prep depending on the class you want to run in. See the WCMA general competition regulations for more information on classes and car prep.
      • Licensing - $75 - You will need to take a license school to get your competition license before you can race. These are held on a yearly basis.
    • Ongoing costs - what you'll spend to go racing on a regular basis
      • Race Fees - $175 / weekend - typically around the $175 a weekend mark to pay the organizers to go racing. This covers the track setup, insurance, county licensing fees, marshalling costs (they are volunteers, be nice to them), and other stuff related to going racing like equipment, fire extinguishers, etc.
      • Expendables - $1000 / season to $XXXXXXX - again, you can spend as little or as much as you like here but $1000 should cover most things like fuel, oil, tires (one set will last multiple seasons) etc.

  • Solo - typically done on a racetrack of some kind - this is kind of like autocross in that you are racing against the clock but the cars are better prepped and speeds are much higher. The CASC in calgary offers a solo series as does Speedway Performance in Edmonton.

    Requirements - the stuff you need to have to run solo
    • A car that is safe (if it passes an insurance inspection it'll pass tech)
    • Helmet that is SA2000 or better
    • A license (in some cases)

    Costs - solo can be cheap or expensive - it all depends what you build.
    • Initial Costs - what you'll need to spend to get started
      • Safety Gear - $250 - This covers the SA2000+ helmet you need.
      • Car Prep - $0 to infinity and beyond, got a street car? Cool - you can probably run it. Or you can spend a ton of money on parts and run in a faster class. Check the rules at wcma.ca or contact the organizer if you have questions. Some cars may need rollbars, etc.
    • Ongoing costs - what you'll spend to go racing on a regular basis
      • Race Fees - $80-$300 / event - this covers your entry to the event. You will typically get large amounts of seat time at these types of events.
      • Expendables - $0 / season to $XXXXXXX - again, you can spend as little or as much as you like here. Cont on a set of tires and brakes lasting a season at best.

  • Autocross - this is racing against a clock usually done on a temporary course setup in a parking lot with cones. No door to door or passing, put on by clubs like the ASA, Miata club, etc. Has rules for just about any kind of car you can imagine.

    Requirements - the stuff you need to have to autocross
    • A car that is reasonably safe (if it passes an insurance inspection it'll pass tech)
    • Helmet that is SA2000 or better

    Costs - autocross can be cheap or expensive - it all depends what you build.
    • Initial Costs - what you'll need to spend to get started
      • Safety Gear - $250 - This covers the SA2000+ helmet you need.
      • Car Prep - $0 to infinity and beyond, got a street car? Cool - you can autocross it. Or you can spend a ton of money on parts and run in a faster class.
    • Ongoing costs - what you'll spend to go racing on a regular basis
      • Race Fees - $30 / event - this covers your entry to the event. You will typically get 8 runs at about a minute a piece for this cost.
      • Expendables - $0 / season to $XXXXXXX - again, you can spend as little or as much as you like here.

  • Rallycross - Similar to autocross a race against the clock on a closed course usually with less trees than real rally and open to cars that aren't caged. Put on by the Edmonton Rally Club. Costs are about the same.

    Requirements - the stuff you need to have to rallycross
    • A car that is reasonably safe (if it passes an insurance inspection it'll pass tech)
    • Helmet that is SA2000 or better

    Costs - rallycross can be cheap or expensive - it all depends what you build.
    • Initial Costs - what you'll need to spend to get started
      • Safety Gear - $250 - This covers the SA2000+ helmet you need.
      • Car Prep - $0 to infinity and beyond, got a street car? Cool - you can rallycross it. Or you can spend a ton of money on parts and run in a faster class.
    • Ongoing costs - what you'll spend to go racing on a regular basis
      • Race Fees - $30 / event - this covers your entry to the event. You will typically get 8 runs at about a minute a piece for this cost.
      • Expendables - $0 / season to $XXXXXXX - again, you can spend as little or as much as you like here.
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Old 08-12-2009, 06:15 PM
RSX-TACY RSX-TACY is offline
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Very nice write-up. Definitely informative for the noobie looking to get into the sport.

I explained the sport to some noobies before and some actually became dis-interested after.. I think some people don't see it as a sport with rules and regulations and they just want to get out and go gun-ho.
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Old 08-12-2009, 06:25 PM
matt matt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RSX-TACY View Post
Very nice write-up. Definitely informative for the noobie looking to get into the sport.

I explained the sport to some noobies before and some actually became dis-interested after.. I think some people don't see it as a sport with rules and regulations and they just want to get out and go gun-ho.
There is a ton more - but that's all I had time to crank out today.

Yeah - most folks are interested in smashing things - they can go race destruction derby.
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Old 02-14-2010, 05:27 AM
DatsunDave DatsunDave is offline
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I am new to the site (first post) and came here precisely for this information (and more).

I can't believe how difficult it is to get straightforward, objective information on getting started in racing. It is almost like a secret society and no one wants to actually help (just perception I am sure). Whenever I ask, I usually get the typical answer that translates into "it's expensive, don't do it". That seems like an odd way to grow a sport.

Anyway, thanks for posting this; very much appreciated.

If you're up for adding more to this thread, I'd appreciate some guidance on selecting a good car for racing (no brand bias please) and guidance for turning a street car into a race car?

I am aware of the old adage of it being cheaper to buy one already prepped but there aren't really a ton of race cars for sale in Alberta so I'd like to build one myself (or at the very least if I had a good understanding of what is proper / good race prep it would be easier to evaluate the quality if I did come across a prepped car for sale).

For the record, money isn't really the biggest issue for me. That said, because this thread is about "getting started" it would make sense to take the most economical approach to each form of racing (because if one doesn't like it, there isn't a lot of money on the table).
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:44 AM
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Dave, I wouldn't say that racing is a secret society. In fact I think the reality of the fact is that most people are unsure themselves. They just assume that going road racing is out of the reach which in all honesty is incorrect. I have some time this week and I will try and throw together a little guide on picking a good starting point car wise. I will even attempt to be objective and honest about it. =)
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Old 02-16-2010, 05:34 PM
RSX-TACY RSX-TACY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DatsunDave View Post
I can't believe how difficult it is to get straightforward, objective information on getting started in racing. It is almost like a secret society and no one wants to actually help (just perception I am sure). Whenever I ask, I usually get the typical answer that translates into "it's expensive, don't do it". That seems like an odd way to grow a sport.
In my opinion you need to talk to the right people.
Whether the response you got was just your perception or not, whoever you talked to did not convey information across properly.

If we're talking about building a car for road racing. To be honest, to get started you do not require many modifications to a normal street car.
By getting basic modifications like track pads, good tires, roll cage and a bucket seat; you're already well on your way to road racing.

Although I have not road raced, a few friends I know (and helped pit-crew) started road racing with a very basic car with the bare essentials.
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Old 02-16-2010, 07:29 PM
matt matt is offline
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Step 1: Read the supp regs at www.wcma.ca - choose a class (I recommend IT# of some kind)... Build car to class rules (Honda Civic).

Step 2: Sign up for driving school with nascc.ab.ca or with arca. Get race license.

Step 3: Go racing.
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Old 02-27-2010, 05:35 AM
DatsunDave DatsunDave is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt View Post
Step 1: Read the supp regs at www.wcma.ca - choose a class (I recommend IT# of some kind)... Build car to class rules (Honda Civic).

Step 2: Sign up for driving school with nascc.ab.ca or with arca. Get race license.

Step 3: Go racing.

#1...pretty expensive if one makes a mistake. One of the things I was hoping for was some guidance other than trying to figure out the rule book. I mean the rule book is the basis but some human interaction during the build would be beneficial.

#2 Registered...woohooo!

#3. Just that easy hey?

Last edited by DatsunDave; 03-07-2010 at 05:29 AM.
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DatsunDave View Post
#1...pretty expensive if one makes a mistake. One of the things I was hoping for was some guidance other than trying to figure out the rule book. I mean the rule book is the basis but some human interaction during the build would be beneficial.

#2 Registered...woohooo!

#3. Just that easy hey?
I forgot to reply to this - my bad.

Human interaction is simple - show up to a nascc.ab.ca club meeting. There are PLENTY of people there ready and willing to talk racecars.
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