How Much Does It Cost To Rally?

How Much Does It Cost To Rally?

Short answer: a team could spend from $700 to $15,000 per event, depending on their level of competition.

This question is usually asked by folks that are interested in
starting to rally but have no idea what is involved. Our recommendation is that you do a LOT of volunteering before you consider racing yourself. Also, this page is geared toward those people who want to spend as little as possible. For people with more money (like, $20,000-$60,000 for the car and $20,000-$150,000 for the season) there is a different timeline with different activities.

We can break this down into several basic sections:

  • Getting the rally car
  • Additional rally car expenses
  • Getting yourself ready and legal to race
  • Per-Rally expenses that have nothing to do with rally
  • Per-Rally rally expenses
  • Infrastructure

Getting the rally car
Buy your first rally car, don't build it!

Otherwise it will take you 18 months to get everything ready. If you haven't rallied a car before, what makes you think you can build a safe one? Besides, a used race car is, seriously, half the cost of buying those race items new! There are all kinds of stories that start out "I'm building a rally car..." and that is as far as many of these people get. Used rally cars can be found anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000. If you don't have that kind of money, and figure you can buy the car and build it piece by piece as you find the cash, STOP.

We recommend a two wheel drive, non-turbo car to start with. Turbo AWD is cool, but more power means you break more stuff, which is costly to repair.

Before you do anything, write up the budget for your project. You will see that it will be thousands of dollars more than buying a ready-to-go car. Plus, until you have competed and attended a few rallies, you won't know how to go about building a car.

For experienced ralliests, building a car may be what they want to do. The procedure for this is:

  1. Build the car. Obviously this means cage, seats, belts, all the stuff required by the rule book.
  2. Get a Logbook issued. This means taking the car to a licensed NASA or RA tech inspector, and having him sign off on the car. The Logbook session is usually concerned with the basic safety of the car. So, this means checking the roll cage, seat mounts, belt mounts, general condition of the shell, and similar basic structural items.
  3. Pass Tech. At every event, you will have to go through tech.
    Many items will be checked at tech. Once you've passed tech, the car is legal to run. Ready to run is an entirely different issue, and that's up to you!

Additional Rally car expenses:

Don't forget you should also factor in, on a per year basis:

  1. Car registration in your state
  2. Property tax on your car
  3. Insuring your car to the standard 100,000/200,000/50,000 levels. This is a little higher than the minimum required.

Getting yourself ready and legal to race
You're going to need two pieces of paper to rally:

  1. A membership to an organization that sanctions rallies
  2. A rally license from that organization

Memberships are about $50. Your first license will be about $50 as well. You can apply for these at the registration of your first event.

Get all your personal gear settled.

  1. A current, approved racing (not motorcycle) helmet, currently required to be SA95 or SA2000. We recommend a Pyrotect open face. It's made on the same production line as the Bell Mag 4 and Mag5, but it's the "off brand" so you'll save some money. Probaby $200 to $300. If you plan on navigating, you don't really have a choice: it has to be open-face. Drivers, you have the option of a closed-face.
  2. An approved fireproof suit. Suits are SFI 5.These items are always expensive, and have to fit. You don't want to find out the day before the race that they don't fit, because odds are you will have to ship them across the country to exchange them. Any race store will be fine, you don't need a rally specialty store. $200 to $500

Attend a rally driving school. This is your choice. Generally, it's a trade off. Do you want to spend the money on a driving school, or on the bodywork fixing your car because you didn't know how to drive it well enough? $150 to $3500

Per-Rally expenses that have nothing to do with rally
The typical rally is 500 miles away, and it will be you, your co-driver, and a couple of friend to crew for you if you're lucky. If it's a small rally, you can leave Friday morning and get back very late Sunday... add up the cost of feeding four people and housing them for the weekend. Call U-Haul and ask them about renting a rig to tow your car 1000 miles. To that add 1000 miles of gas at 10 miles per gallon, if you're lucky. The rally vehicle will do 300 miles easy during the weekend. If you can't afford to front your own team, consider co-driving for someone else. As crazy as it sounds,
it's half the fun of driving for about one tenth the cost. That's five times as much fun for the dollar. Not bad. Or, even cheaper: crew for a team. You might find yourself with free transportation and lodging, maybe even free food. And you're still part of the team! Don't knock crew, they are vitally important.

So, let's put together a little spreadsheet that assumes you're pretty cheap and you're going to the average one day rally. Tech is going to be Friday at noon to four.

Item

Cost

Gas, 500 miles there and back, at 10 mpg, at $1.80 per gallon

$90

Hotel cost, 1 room, four people in it, Friday and Saturday nights, $60 per night (Don't forget, you got up at 4am on friday to start driving the 9 hours to the event so that you wouldn't have to pay for a hotel on thursday night, halfway there. Of course, this means that you're more tired, and more likely to crash your car.)

$120

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Four people, three days. 36 meals at $7 apiece.

$252

Gas, for the rally car. Probably averages 15 mpg for stage and transit combined. It will do 300 miles in a typical rally, and you're likely just using 93 octane at $2.00 per gallon.

$40

Total So Far:

$502

Ok, so that's over $500 per event before even counting the rally car, the tow vehicle, the trailer, and the entry fee. Now, the driver doesn't usually pay for everyone's food, and your navigator may or may not split something like gas or entry fee with you. But figure out first how much it's going to cost for the team to get there, and then work out who's going to pay for it.

Per-Rally rally expenses

Item

Cost

Entry fee.

$300-$1000

One event's worth of rally tires. Let's assume you get one new set of rally tires per year, and you do four events per year.

$120

Repairing everything you broke from last time. Improving things you can afford to. Hard to say. On average, over the course of years, you can figure it will be about what you're spending in entry fees.

$200-$600

Infrastructure
For every dollar that you spend buying, building, and repairing your rally car, you'll spend another dollar on infrastucture.
What's infrastructure?

  • Your tow vehicle
  • Your trailer
  • tarps, fold up seats... things that make your crew more comfortable.
  • paper towels, zip ties, duct tape. Everything you use that is essentially "consumable".
  • storage for cars
  • fixing your tow vehicle

Think about your tow vehicle for a minute: this is a rig that you want to be able to drive 500 miles on a moments notice. It's not like you're going to spend the week before the trip checking out your van: you're still working on the rally car. This means that you cannot buy a $1500 truck and expect it to make those kind of trips. You might think "Oh, if it breaks down, we have all our tools with us, we can fix it." Sure... but you don't have _time_. You need to be at the rally in six hours!

Our recommendation: get an older van and spend at least $4,000.

The same goes for your trailer. We've heard WAY too many stories of people having trailer problems, like blown tires siezed bearings, at 3 am on a rainy night sixty miles from anywhere on the highway. The equipment you choose to buy will decide whether you'll have the same problems. Get a GOOD trailer.

At a minimum:

  • Two axles
  • electric brakes on both axles

Plan on spending $1000 to $2000 for a reliable trailer.

Interested in getting to the top of the series, or perhaps becoming a professional driver?
You should take a look at these sobering racing realities first.