Less-costly Legends all the rage

KRIS WESTWOOD

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

Legends cars were created in the 1990s in reaction to the rising cost of racing. Officials in Charlotte, N.C., had noted that racers were spending $50,000 or more a year just to race in the lowest categories of the sport, and as a result car counts were declining.

So they set out to design an inexpensive car that needed little maintenance, but at the same time would be a full-fledged race car to help young drivers develop.

They came up with a simple tubular-framed chassis with an air-cooled 1250-cc motorcycle engine, sequential gearbox and fully adjustable racing suspension. Engines are sealed so drivers can't tweak them, and everyone races on standard tires.

A new Legends car costs about $13,000 US and a decent used one can be had for about $6,500. Throw in another $3,000 in tools and about $5,000 in running costs per season (excluding accident damage), and an aspiring racer is ready to go.

That's less than a quarter of the minimum cost of running in the late-model stock car class.

The Legends class is booming all over the world. And because the cars have a high power-to-weight ratio and behave just like full-size race cars, they're ideal for teaching setup and racing skills: NASCAR stars Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch both earned their chops racing Legends cars.

"It's a fun sport -- they're real race cars," said Frank Johnston, who runs the racing school at the Capital City Speedway and races a Legends car in the masters category.

Just don't expect to get rich racing stock cars. As Johnston points out, the best way to end up with $1 million in motor racing is to start with $5 million. And it's probably too late to get one of those 43 NASCAR drives, anyway.

"If you're 18, you're too old," he said.


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