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Legend Race Cars: Meeting the Need for Inexpensive Racing

[John Wiedemann Photo]

Turk’s Tracks

A Few Loose Lug Nuts from Pit Row

The other day, a friend and I were talking about this year’s racing season and were wondering what series had the greatest growth and popularity in say the last two decades. As it turns out, the answer to the question is the Legend Race Cars.

So what is a Legend car and how did they get started?

In 1992, the officials of the Charlotte Motor Speedway noticed the need for a low cost race car. At first, they found a small open wheel car manufactured in Arizona. But they wanted a car with fenders. They then found a small replica car made in North Carolina. A sanctioning body was formed and was called INEX – which stood for inexpensive racing. The first Legend car debuted later that year at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

So, the next logical question is what exactly is a Legend car?

A legend race car is a 5/8 scale replica of American built automobiles from the mid-30’s to early 40’s. Presently, there are seven body designs to choose from. Some examples are a 1934 Chevy coupe, ‘34 Ford sedan, ‘37 Dodge coupe, ‘40 Ford coupe, ‘37 Ford sedan. The cars weigh 1300 pounds and are 10 feet, 6 inches long. They have an 73 inch wheelbase and are powered by an inline, four cylinder, double overhead cam Yamaha motorcycle engine of 1250 cc (sealed) or 1200 cc engines. The high revving Yamaha engine is good for producing 140 horsepower. These are considered spec built cars and must conform to the guidelines and rules set down by INEX. INEX has determined the tire size and the brand to be used. One brand was selected for pavement racing, another for dirt racing.

So how much does it cost to buy a legend race car?

A new Legend race car cost about $13,000. However, there is a large dealer network through the U.S. and I did see an ad from a dealer that would give a $1,000 discount if the car was bought before such and such date. I then went to check on some websites for used race cars. I came upon some used race ready cars for $4,000 to $6,000 dollars. Some even include a trailer for that price while others had spare parts included. Other costs would be $400 for a set of tires, and you can plan on a new set of tires about every fourth weekend. The only other significant cost might be in an engine overhaul after the racing season. That cost is in the $1,200 to $2,000 range if you send it out. Bottom line is that you could be racing in a legend car for only $5,000 to $7,000.

So now you have your Legend race car, but where to race it?

Luckily, you have many options. You can race on dirt or pavement. Each has their own nationals for a championship. Here in the Midwest, the 3/8 mile clay oval is popular. Same size can be found on a paved track. Another can be found by using a portion of a NASCAR super speedway track. INEX simply places some orange cones on the straight in front of the grandstand to layout a tight oval track. If you check with your state’s listing of race tracks, you’ll usually see a list of what types of race cars will run at each track. An example may be midgets, modifieds, hobby stock and legends.

So now you know where you want to race, what are the rules and requirements?

INEX has established four divisions. They are – Pro Division for experienced drivers, Masters – for 40 years and over, Semi Pro – for less than two years’ experience, and Young drivers – 12 to 16 years old. Here is what I think is one of the reasons that Legend racing is so popular. You can start out as a young boy or girl and move up into another class. Or you can be nearing retirement age and still find a way to enjoy racing your own race car. To get a copy of all the rules, you can go to the INEX website or contact your local race track .Although this is a spec car, the driver is able to adjust the camber and caster angles, change ride height, spring rates, tire pressure and gear ratios to improve the car’s handling.

So just how popular is Legend car racing?

From July 15-17, 2010 Charlotte Motor Speedway hosted the Legend Million Event. 301 cars showed up to race. When the checkered flag dropped on the last race, the top prize was $250,000. Since the first Legend car was shown at Charlotte, it’s popularity has spread around the world. Legend cars are now racing in the U.K., Scotland, Northern Europe, Central Europe, Mexico, Australia, and Georgia (Russia). I find it ironic that the Russian Ivan Ivanovich is racing in an American built replica race car powered by an engine built in Japan. As a side note, you may have heard of some NASCAR drivers that drove Legend cars. They include Kyle and Kurt Busch, David Ragan, Joey Logano, and Reed Sorenson.

If you would like more information about Legend race cars, you can go to the following websites; www.northeasternlegends.com, www.racingjunk.com, www.dwarfcarracing.com
www.rjspeed.com, and www.greatnorthlegends.com

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Gene Turk was born with racing in his blood. At age 8 he started racing Quarter Midgets as member of the Great Milwaukee Quarter Midget club. For five years he raced the #7 car that his father built. He then graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Internal Combustion Engineering.

While in college he obtained his Private Pilot’s License.

Along the way he has attended numerous Indy car and stock car races at the Milwaukee Mile during the 60s, 70sand 80s along with area Midget car races. He would also frequently fly to the Brickyard to watch the Indy 500 time trials in the 60s and 70s and more recently attended the 2014 Indy 500.

He has also attended numerous sports car and NASCAR races at Elkhart Lake Road America. Finally, Gene has owned many classic cars including his present 1990 Corvette and is a self-described “Gear Head.”