How to Get into Racing Without Breaking the Bank in 2024

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Being a successful racing driver is a luxury. You’ll get paid millions, travel first-class globally, and almost always be the center of attention. However, all these don’t come without sacrifices.

These sacrifices include hard work, determination, and sometimes, money. Becoming a race driver is expensive, especially if you want to go into F1 or motorsport racing professionally. Only the affluent can afford to sponsor themselves up to a professional level.

However, there are ways you can get into racing with no money. Although it wouldn’t be the easiest path to follow, it’s still possible. This article will educate you on how to get into racing with no money. You’ll understand how much you need to get into racing, the requirements, and the types of racing that are the most lucrative.

How Much Does It Take to Get Into Racing?

Racing can be expensive to enter, even as an amateur. It’s one of those sports where there are no shortcuts. All you’ll be spending money on is vital to your performance, and you can be of significant consequence if you look for a shortcut.

comparative racing costs
Comparative chart showing the minimum costs of different types of racing. Credit:

1. Gear

The first thing that’ll take your money is your gear. You can’t turn up for practice or race wearing your “dad” driving kits. You must buy a complete set that includes your helmet, race suit, race gloves, kit bag, race boot, headphones, and others.

You’ll spend around $4,000 to get these things on a good day. You can get inferior quality for cheaper, but remember, you want to compete.

2. Racing License

You’ll also need to get a racing license to be able to do the sport. Getting approved isn’t hard; take basic tests and impress the instructor.

Once you’re verified, you can pay to obtain the license, which usually costs around $500, after which you’ll need to renew it annually.

3. Car

The car is the most crucial component of your racing career and is usually the most expensive at any level. The car price can vary depending on the type. Expect to spend at least $25,000 if you want to buy a car that can compete at an amateur level.

You can always cut costs by modifying your existing ride to a race-worthy level, but you’ll spend thousands of dollars if you’re new to racing and purchasing a new ride for the first time.

4. Racing Lessons

You can be an exceptional driver in real life, but racing is different. In racing, you’ll need to learn how to race competitively with other drivers, and it involves hiring a highly skilled instructor and paying them. You may need to pay around $1,000 to learn the skills you need to be able to race.

When you’re done spending all this money, understand that you may need to sign up with a local racing club or enter competitions. These expenses will usually cost you from $50 to hundreds of dollars.

If you add all these expenses, you can understand that it takes a lot to enter racing. You should know that you’ll also need to spend a lot when you’re in it. Expenses that’ll be gulping your money include stuff like car maintenance and competition fees. Not only is it expensive to get into racing, but it’s lucrative to stay there.

Requirements for Racing as a Career

It takes more than driving skills to take racing as a career. Other essential skills are needed to ensure that you match the highly skilled drivers you’ll be competing with. Here are some of the requirements to take racing as a career.

1. High Driving Skills

You need to stand out to take driving as a career. Race car drivers drive at insane speeds while ensuring they’re still in control of their vehicle. You don’t have to be the best at first, but your driving skills must be more than the ordinary to succeed in the field.

Understand that you must also have the endurance to control the cars for a long stretch. You’ll learn how to do all these during your race training.

2. Mechanical Knowlege

You must understand your car and how it works to compete favorably with it. Know the different parts and what they do so that you can maintain the vehicle better. It can also help you in a race to know when the car is problematic and avoid accidents.

3. Fast Decision Making

Most in-race decisions you’ll make are when your car is at insane speed. Sometimes, you’ll need to do so when they’re at 150mph. Therefore, fast decision-making is one of your most significant requirements for becoming a race car driver.

4. Money

Money is significant to the success of any race driver. Getting a good car, gears, maintenance, and even entering the best competitions are expensive. You can employ tactics to minimize your spending, but you’ll still need to do so.

5. Dedication

You must love racing and be dedicated to it to succeed. It can be hard to get up and drive even when you don’t want to. However, you must do so to have any chance of succeeding in racing as a career.

How to get into Racing without a Fortune

The truth is, it’s impossible to get into racing with no money. However, you can get into racing by spending considerably less than you would if you decide to do everything yourself. You’ll still have to spend for most of the strategies or methods that this section will discuss.

1. Try Go Kart

Kart racing
Two go-cart drivers batteling in a competitive race on an indoor circuit

Go-karting is one of your most realistic options to get into racing with little money. You can buy a go-kart, which is much cheaper than race cars. However, it will still set you back a few thousand dollars. Alternatively, you can be part of a club and drive for free while you pay your affordable occasional obligations.

Go-karting can sound like something for kids, which it is, but many adults are participating competitively and have entered the world of racing from a go-kart. The key is to be dedicated and enter as many competitions as possible. If you’re exceptional and compete in national and international championships, you might get the nod of a sponsor and advance from there.

For kids and young teens, go-karting is one of their most realistic options for becoming a professional racer. Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time F1 world Champion, started his career by go-karting.

2. Get Into A Race Club

Racing club

If you have a regular drive that you use, you might be qualified to enter a race club. The reason is that many motorsport competitions don’t require you to have a flashy car to partake in them. You only need to do little modifications (sometimes none) to a regular car to get started.

When you join a sports club, you’ll be required to practice with them and partake in their activities to hone your skills as a driver. You’ll meet drivers who are more experienced and skilled than you, which is why you may not start competing straight away. However, you can have an exceptional racing career with dedication and consistency.

3. Autocross

Autocross racing

If you’re not part of any sports club, you may need to start entering racing competitions individually. One of the most common and practical that you can do is Autocross. Autocross is a type of racing usually done in a cleared parking lot.

The organizers set up a temporary racetrack using cones, and you’re expected to navigate them as fast as possible. You’ll compete with your friends and other drivers to choose the best. Entering autocross competitions is relatively inexpensive, most costing less than $100. You can also use your modified car for a start.

4. Time-Trial

Time trial racing

Time Trial is another racing type that you can enter with little money. You race alone on a racing track to get the fastest time. Drivers take turns, and the three quickest get rewards at the end of the race.

You can use your modified car for a start here, and it’s a decent way to learn the tenets of competitive racing. Entering them is usually more expensive than autocross but still affordable. You should scout well and select a race club with the needed exposure while ensuring you compete favorably.

5. Club Racing

Club racing

Club racing is the best way to feel like the pros when you race. It’s door-to-door racing where amateur drivers battle for who will get to the finish line first. You don’t need a fancy car, although it would help if you did. Most drivers you’ll race with are like you.

Moreover, there are many of these race types across the country, and they all have varying difficulty levels. If you’re a beginner, go for those that aren’t challenging yet. As you advance and gain more confidence, you can go up the ranks and advance your career.

What Type Of Racing Pays The Most?

Professional motorsport drivers earn fortunes, which is understandable because of the difficulty of the job and the investments that go into it. The big companies that sponsor the sport also contribute to the lucrative paychecks that the drivers earn. However, there are different kinds of professional racing, and they don’t earn similar pay.

F1 is unarguably the highest-earning race type. Its racers pocket around $11.8 million on average in 2022. Some of its highest-earning drivers include Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, all earning more than $63 million annually.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the racing in which its drivers earn the second highest salary. They pocket around $4.5 million on average, excluding sponsorship-related bonuses. Its highest-earning drivers include Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick.

IndyCar is another franchise that pays its drivers well. However, what they earn is menial compared to F1 and NASCAR drivers. Nonetheless, a $700,000 average salary for doing what you love is impressive. Marcus Ericsson and Pato O’Ward are the highest-earning IndyCar drivers.


Getting into racing with no money is harder than if you’re ready to invest fortunes, but it isn’t impossible. You must understand that you might get occasionally bodied by drivers with better cars, which is normal.

At the early stage of your career, you should focus less on being the best. Invest in developing your driving skills and safety. You’ll gradually improve if you’re dedicated and might get a nod in professional racing if you’re outstanding and lucky.

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