COUNTING THE COST !
We all know the cost of a trackday.... 150 quid from you local club. But, let's dispel the myth here and face up to the real facts. What does it truly cost ?
Here are some rough calculations, based on running something like a Caterham SLR and based around 10 trackdays a year one of which is a highlight European circuit trip. Must be stressed that this is a bare bones approximation with most invoices trimmed down to a theoretical minimum. Average punters will see maybe 25-50% increase on my calculations for all sorts of reasons.
The first thing to pin down is not the cost of the car but the cost of running it. We are assuming that you will sell your car after the year is up and your 10 trackdays have been completed, so to start with we have depreciation, any interest charges if you had to finance and then onto all the associated running costs.
The caterham is pretty good on depreciation and the figures here assume a superlight type car. A lotus may be higher depreciation especially if you buy new, and any Porkers, evos, scoobys etc.. may well mean even more depreciation. In a year, a good estimate for the Caterham is around 3k. To finance the car with an initial desposit of around 5-10k you'll also be paying seomthing like £70 a month on interest charges.
Onto maintenance. Now this figure could vary massively but i going on a few oil changes and a few bits and bobs here and there and 1.5 major services in the year. If anything huge goes wrong with the car or you have to refresh to sell, then you'll need to factor in more money. £800 is my figure, and yes i admit its somewhat on the skinny side.
Next, brakes and tyres. assuming the car comes with a set of tyres already then another 2-3 sets are going to be in the order of £1500. Maybe the fronts less so than the rears, a bit of rotating and you could be looking at £1250. Slicks will be a lot cheaper, maybe £100 a set but we'll stick with the road legal tyre option. Brakes last quite a while on a caterham but lets budget for £250 for 2 sets of standard caterham pads or 1 set of Pagids (after you've used whats on the car originally).
Now petrol and insurance. My calculations won't be so good here 'cos i never take much notice of this type of stuff but assuming around 1000-1500 track miles and say another 1000 road miles (you are using a trailer btw so no road miles to and from track) lets say £650 (given very low mpg on track). Road insurance is very variable but for me its £300 per annum for road insurance and £35 a go each trackday.
Now we come to the actual cost of the trackdays themsleves. At a rough guess, lets assume 2 airfield days at around £100 a go, 5 preimum type tracks (goodwood, donny, snet) at between £150 and £190, two "top" tracks at £250 (silverstone, brands GP), and one major European event including hotel/ferry of around £650. Add in a couple of B&B stays for tracks north of Watford and that lot comes to £2250.
So setting it all out it looks something like this:
But these are trackdays and if you have caught the bug then one of the most enjoyable ways you can spend your waking life so who cares.
Ways to get it down ? Well buying a cheaper car may save you on depreciation a little but maintenance is bound to be higher so to be honest, the argument for buying a 10k caterfield instead of a 20/25k one (e.g. "you'll have just as much fun") isn't necessarily cast iron. You will only save a small amount on depreciation, maintenance will be higher and you have no warranty (if applicable) to speak of so if you can afford it then a more expensive and newer car may be the way to go. The extra entailed might be worth it given that the car you run may well be faster and more sorted.. also, its far easier to sell on a premium or more desirable model. No, the only true way to cut costs with the car is to get a proper race machine which won't really depreciate at all and you won't use on the road either. You'll almost certainly use cheap slicks with the first few laps taken out of them so that will also bring a big saving. This route, you'll immediately save around 4k on my calculations. But there are complications, like maintenance, more personal spanner time involved (often known as 'bearding neurosis'), selling the car on, storage etc and at least for open-wheeled cars you'll be quite restricted trackday-wise and more into test days.
I imagine the same would hold true of a used 340r/Exige versus a shagged out 4 year old elise S1. Of course owning the car ouright will save you some interest but then thats money thats not earning you anything in proper investments elsewhere. Running slicks is a damm good idea and doing more trackdays makes it more bearable 'cos only about 25% of the cost is the actual trackday entrance. By the time you've paid for all running costs you may as well get some value for money. Do 15 days in the year, add in more petrol, maintenance and another set of tyres and that cost per trackday figure drops to something like £800.