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NASA Road Racing

How to Go Road Racing With NASA

America is home to some of the most famous and challenging road courses anywhere in the world, and there is no better way to go road racing in the United States than to get on track with the National Auto Sport Association.

Regardless of where you live in the United States, amateur road racing is alive and well at America’s favorite racetracks. Tracks like Watkins Glen, Sebring International, Road America, Sonoma, Road Atlanta and Circuit of the Americas are just a few of the venues NASA regions visit each year, and you can be part of the action!

If you already have a racing license or have gone through an accredited racing school, going road racing with NASA is easy. Just sign up for a NASA membership, submit a copy of your license or certificate of completion, get a physical from your doctor, pass the written test on NASA rules and apply for your racing license. You’ll be taking the green flag in no time!

If you don’t have a racing license, you can get up to speed with NASA High-Performance Driving Events program. Once you get to HPDE Group 4, you can attend a racing school to get your provisional racing license to begin racing in your local region.

The core of NASA’s grassroots racing takes place at the regional level. NASA offers 18 race series of road racing, so you’re sure to find one that matches up with your automotive passion. All NASA classes nationwide abide by one set of rules, so everyone races on a level playing field.

If you like a tight rules set and close competition, spec class racing is for you. In NASA, you can choose from 10 spec series from Spec E30 and Spec E46 to Spec Miata and NASA’s flagship class, NASA Prototype. If you like a bit more freedom to innovate, the rules in NASA’s Super Touring and German Touring Series allow for more creativity.

Once you have your competition license, you can visit any NASA region to race on those “bucket list” tracks you’ve always dreamed of. Your competition license also means you’re eligible to race at the NASA Championships, held in the fall at a different track each year.

Launched in 2006, the NASA Championships were the first events of their kind to rotate to different tracks each year. That gives NASA competitors all over the country the chance to participate in an event that puts them on a national stage with the best drivers in the country.

Past events have taken place at such famous road courses as Watkins Glen International, Sonoma Raceway, Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta, Circuit of the Americas and Sebring International Raceway.

Each year the NASA Championships showcases the high level of driving talent among its members, with contingency and cash prizes, and bragging rights that last a lifetime. It’s amateur sports car racing at its finest.

If you prefer to measure races in hours rather than minutes and seconds, perhaps endurance racing is more your thing, and NASA has it.

Start with NASA’s Team Racing Endurance Challenge series, which takes place in NASA regions across the country. TREC is a new NASA endurance series that focuses on fun, teamwork and lots of track time. Anyone with a driver’s license can drive in a TREC race, and can use TREC races to earn a full-fledged NASA competition license. Safety is enhanced and cornering speeds are kept in check with the use of 180 treadwear tires and an emphasis on fun above all else.

Those who want take enduros more seriously can step up to race in the Western Endurance Racing Challenge, a series that culminates with the 25 Hours Thunderhill, the longest closed-course endurance race in North America. NASA’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill takes place each December and it has become so popular it attracts pro and amateur drivers from around the world.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up to go road racing with NASA today!


Five Easy Ways to Get Your NASA Competition License

One of the most common questions we are asked is, “How do I get my racing license?” The good news is we want you to DriveNASA. With this in mind, we make it easier than you think. NASA has been training racers for more than 30 years and we’ve developed the best programs in the country to do just that!

First things first: Before you can apply for a competition license, you should be a NASA member. You’ll also need to undergo a physical examination required for racing as part of your application process as well as pass the open-book written test on NASA’s Club Codes and Regulations. We give you five easy ways to get your NASA competition license.

  1. Complete NASA’s HPDE system, from HPDE1 through HPDE4 then apply for your competition license. It’s easy and fun, and you can learn at the pace you set for yourself. Some people ask how long this takes and the answer is always the same, “it depends on you”. How often you participate with NASA and how quickly you progress learning new driving skills determines how long this will take. Regardless, you are continually having fun throughout your journey.
  2. If you have previous experience with other racing organizations, in many cases we can issue you a NASA competition license based on that experience. You are encouraged to apply for a competition license if you believe you have enough experience to go racing with NASA.
  3. If you have attended a competition school outside NASA (Skip Barber, BMW Performance School, Bondurant, Bertil Roos, etc.) or one of NASA’s competition schools, you can apply for a NASA competition license. NASA will not typically grant you a NASA competition license if the only experience you have is the competition school. However, most applicants have experience beyond their school of choice and can be granted a competition license.
  4. If you have lots and lots of experience, but no racing history, you can show up to a NASA event in your region and get a “checkout ride” in one of NASA’s HPDE sessions. NASA officials will observe your driving and on-track behavior, and if you demonstrate the necessary skills including control and situational awareness, you can apply for a competition license.
  5. NASA’s Team Racing Endurance Challenge lets you race in TREC enduros while earning a competition license in the process. Complete six TREC enduros and then apply for your NASA competition license.

See? We told you it was easy!

Race Series


Questions and Answers to Feed Your Curiosity

Unless you already have a specific type of car in mind, you should go to the track and ask all the racing drivers you can find as many questions as you can think of about what they race and why they race it. You’ll learn what you might like based on what they tell you.

All totaled, there are 18 racing series, 10 of which are spec series. The rest are regulated either by weight-to-power ratios or specific modifications outlined in the rules.

Spec series have a tight set of rules that dictate the car(s) you can race and what modifications you can make to it, so that all the cars are prepared to the same specification and costs are somewhat controlled. Thus the name spec series.

NASA’s Super Touring, German Touring Series, Honda Challenge and American Iron series allow for more freedom and creativity in the garage, but they are governed by minimum weights and weight-to-power ratios as measured on a dynamometer.

Traditionally, spec series provide closer, tighter racing on the track and the fullest grids.

It varies from region to region, but spec series are the most widely subscribed to in most regions, chief among them Spec Miata and Spec E30. Spec E46 is growing rapidly, too.

A common question with a common answer: It depends. Buying a built car can save a lot of headaches, but it can produce some, too. It’s typically cheaper to buy one already built, but it’s a big outlay of cash up front. Nobody finances racecars. If you find a good one that has been developed and had the bugs worked out, that still doesn’t mean you won’t have to put a fair amount of work into it. If you want to build one, cash rolls out more slowly, but you need to be honest with yourself about whether you know what you’re doing. Building a car requires intimacy with the rulebook and significant mechanical and fabrication skills.
Education is always a good thing, but as outlined on the licensing page, it’s not necessary. There are numerous schools across the country, and many NASA regions offer their own competition schools, and the likelihood that learn something new at any of them is high.
Yes, and particularly if you want to be competitive. Consumable use increases in racing compared with HPDE. Brake pads, tires, engines and drivetrain components all wear more quickly when you are racing.
Um, maybe? Probably? In the inimitable words of writer Peter Egan, “Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty.”


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