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How Much Does It Cost To Start Rally Racing?

Rallying is an expensive sport to participate in. There are a lot of start-up costs when you begin your rallying career. The expenses continue with running costs and keeping your rally car in good condition, so the cost of rally racing can begin to mount up.

The startup costs of rally racing can amount to around $20,000, taking into account things like the car, tools and safety gear. A season of 5 local events might cost around $14,000, for things like consumables and accommodation costs, making the total cost for a first rally season about $35,000.

The costs above are estimated costs for a first season in rally racing, and the costs can vary depending on where you are racing and what parts you buy etc. This means we need to look at each component in more detail to get a more accurate gauge of the cost of rally racing.

Car Costs

The first, and most likely the largest initial cost you will need to cover is the car itself. Whether or not you already own a car suitable for rallying, or if you plan to buy a new one (most likely secondhand), you will need to consider the costs aside from the actual car itself.

You will, for example, need to add performance packages onto the car, which can either be from the manufacturer or aftermarket parts from a third party. You will also need to add the necessary safety features such as the roll cage.

Buying New

The first option is for you to buy a new car. This would be the most expensive option. However, you will at least know that your car will be in good condition from the start. It also gives you some freedom with optional extras and the customization that you would like from the manufacturer.

Buying a new car for your rallying adventures can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to more than $40,000. The advantage here is that you can add on performance packages straight from the manufacturer rather than having to rely on other parts from aftermarkets that may be unreliable.

Buying Secondhand

Buying secondhand is the cheaper option. However, the issue here is that you do not have complete knowledge of the condition of the car, suspension, and engine, which are all crucial parts of a rally car.

Good secondhand cars can be found for as little as a few hundred dollars. Keep in mind that you will also need to invest in a good service as well as the aftermarket performance modifications. You need to keep an eye on the condition of the car and be ready to replace any worn parts quickly.

Build Your own

The other option you have is to build your own rally car. This is the most popular option as it allows you to fully customize your car in terms of both performance and aesthetics. The only downside here is that it can be time consuming and could become an expensive project, even more so than buying a brand-new car in some cases.

Car builds can vary greatly in price. The great thing about a car build is that you can fit it to your budget. In addition, you can always add on and keep upgrading as time goes on, and as your budget increases. For a rally car build you can expect to budget at least $10,000 to $20,000.

Equipment Costs

As with any other form of motorsport, rallying requires a lot of extra equipment aside from the car itself. Equipment is necessary for both the driver and the co-driver. Equipment will come with a substantial initial cost, but it can usually last for several years, or until you want to upgrade to newer equipment.

Safety Gear

Safety gear will be a big expense for both driver and co-driver. You will need to invest in full FIA certified race suits and fire-resistant underwear. Drivers and co-drivers will need helmets and communication devices as well.

Do not try and save money in this department. Safety is crucial in motorsport and having the correct safety gear can save your life. It is important to do your research to find the best safety gear on the market that has undergone thorough testing and is reliable.

Here is what you can expect to be spending on equipment:

  • Helmet – $700
  • HANS Device – $400
  • Race suit – $400
  • Gloves – $70
  • Boots $100
  • Underwear $270

Keep in mind that you will need equipment for both you and your co-driver, so you can double this for two people.

Tools

Tools are a necessity when it comes to rallying. You will be constantly tuning your car and adjusting your set up. In addition, you will be required to keep your car well maintained and in good condition, making sure to repair any damage on the car as soon as possible.

There are quite a few different tools you will need for your rally car, so you will need to budget around $2000 to get all of the necessary ones. Once again, these will usually be a one-time purchase, rather than an annual cost.

Trailer

Your trailer is one of the more important things that you are going to need. It is a good idea to spend some extra money on this to get a good quality trailer. It is convenient driving your rally car to an event. However, if it breaks down on the way there you not only miss the event, but you also have to pay up to repair it.

Your trailer will need to be of excellent quality since it’s going to be protecting your rally car during transport. It’s best to invest in an enclosed trailer that you can also use for storage at events. In addition, it will protect your rally car against the elements when it’s not in use. Expect to budget between $7000 and $15,000 on a good trailer.

Event Costs

Events always cost money to attend. These are not only entry fees, but your own personal expenses to think about as well. You will need to consider factors such as travel and accommodation to and from the rallying events.

Entry Fees

Entry fees vary depending on the level of event you are entering, the prestige and the location. The level of the event depends on the experience of the competitors, and whether they are amateurs or professionals. Of course, amateur events will be cheaper than professional events, but will also have less exposure.

The prestige is how popular the event is. If it is a small local event, the costs of participation will be lower. However, a more well-known national event for example could be double the cost. The location of an event could also affect the entry fees as some locations are more famous for rally stages than others.

Small, local events might have a $200 to $400 entry fee, whereas larger national events can have entry fees between $600 and $1000 per event.

Travel

Keep in mind that you and your co-driver will need to travel to and from the events. You will also need to get your rally car to the events which could cost you extra depending on how far you need to drive. The prices of fuel and plane tickets fluctuate, so make sure you budget for these as well.

Travel costs are completely dependent on how far the event is from your home location. A local event will require some fuel costs, whereas national events could mean you need to buy plane tickets. Try to budget around $700 for travel expenses per event, but think about each one individually, as some will cost far less than others.

Accommodation

Accommodation for you and your co-driver is crucial too. You need a comfortable and affordable place close to the event. Comfort is important in order to get the required rest before your event. Being in close proximity to the rally stage will help you to save travel time and costs.

Accommodation has become easier to book these days with the likes of Airbnb. There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars a night on expensive hotels. Airbnb can be as cheap as $20 a night if you are on a tight budget, but if you want some extra luxury and you can afford it, you can look at spending a bit more.

Storage

It is important to consider where your rally car is going to be stored during your stay at the rally stage. Some events have storage units close to the stage. However, others may not offer that and so you may need to find your own storage unit.

If you have a good quality enclosed trailer there will not be a need for you to hire a storage unit during your stay at the event. Renting a storage unit can be expensive and cost around $100 a day if you need a lot of space (for the car, tools, and various consumables).

Running Costs

Actually participating in rally events can be expensive. Rally cars require a lot of maintenance, and you will need to stay on top of consumables such as fuel and tires if you are taking part in a lot of events. A large chunk of your season’s budget will go towards these types of running costs.

Fuel

Your rally car will need enough fuel to cover the entire rally stage. Always ensure that you have enough to complete the entire event (and some extra just to be safe). The last thing you want is to run out of fuel in the middle (or right at the end) of an event.

Fuel prices vary over the course of the year. You can budget around $500 of fuel for an event to be safe. This means that you will have enough fuel to complete the event and some extra to keep around if you need it, perhaps for the next event.

Tires

Rally tires work extremely hard. They have to endure high speeds on tarmac roads and survive hitting debris on dirt and gravel tracks. Rally tires are built to be stronger than normal road tires which means they do last longer, but they are also more expensive.

Rally tires can cost around $250 per set. You will most likely need to have between 4 and 5 sets per event. These wont necessarily all be used in the event, but spare tires are a necessity in rally events, and there is a minimum requirement for how many sets of tires you need to have per stage.

Maintenance

As rally cars are worked extremely hard over the course of a stage, they do require a lot of maintenance. Constant cleaning and repairing is needed to keep these cars performing at their best. This will require a lot of time and money.

You will need to ensure that you have all the necessary consumables (such as lubricants and oils) and tools needed to keep your rally car in its best condition. Other things such as oils and lubricants will most likely cost around $200 for a season, depending on which ones you use.

The biggest cost in terms of maintenance will be purchasing tools and spares. You will need to budget in advance for spares, as the last thing you want is to need something halfway through a season but not have enough money to buy it. Keep around $500 or more aside for emergency spares.

Insurance

Insurance is important in motorsport. If your car is damaged it can cost you a lot of money to fix it. Having insurance can save some money in some unforeseen circumstances. This may be an extra cost that you do not think is necessary, but it is beneficial to include in your budget.

However, insurance premiums will vary depending on the specific car you are using, what it is being used for, how it is stored and how many miles it racks up per year, among other things. But you can expect to pay around $200 per month to ensure a rally car.

Licensing

Finally, it is also important for you and your rally car to be licensed. If you do not have a license (or have an expired license) you will not be allowed to participate in the event. Licenses are relatively cheap and will usually last longer than one season. A rally licence is usually around $100 to $200, and renewal process will depend on the class you are participating in.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of costs involved in rally racing. It may seem very overwhelming at first, but when you break it down you can clearly see where you can save some money, and where you need to spend more money.

Your first season in rallying will also be more expensive than any subsequent seasons. The largest costs are the initial ‘buy-in’ costs when you first start off in the sport, such as the car and tools. Running costs during the season become much more manageable afterwards, but you are still looking at about $30,000 for your first year of rallying.