The Stratus' last event; Photo by Jeremy Mitchell
The Stratus’ last event; Photo by Jeremy Mitchell. Click image to enlarge

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Budget racing, Part one
Budget racing, Part two

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By James Bergeron

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Budget racing, the Canadian way

Ottawa, Ontario – When I started this adventure, I had a small budget of between $300 and $500. I managed to find a vehicle for $300 and was set to go, but a minor incident during the shake-down (as mentioned in part two of this series) cost me another $20 or so, and I was good to go… or so I thought.

After the rallycross, I started competing in snowcross events here in Ottawa – these events are similar to the rallycross events, with the only real differences being the extreme cold and ice. The format was the same: one car at a time, running against the clock on a pre-defined course that is changed every event (sometimes twice an event, or more). Your total running time is accumulated like a rally stage, and the driver with the quickest total time is the winner. There are only three classes to compete in: All-Wheel Drive (AWD), Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) and Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD). Studded tires are prohibited to preserve the track, which means all cars are running on standard, off-the-shelf, winter tires.

The Stratus' new paintjob!; Photo by James Bergeron
The Stratus' new paintjob! (top, by James Bergeron), Dodge Stratus Racing Machine; photo by Mike McCreight
The Stratus’ new paintjob! (by James Bergeron); Dodge Stratus Racing Machine (by Mike McCreight). Click image to enlarge

The first snowcross event came Sunday, January 11th. Unfortunately for me, I had a prior commitment (the Detroit auto show) so I was out of town and missed it. But my co-driver and now co-owner of the SRT (Stratus Racing Team) Alex Liculescu was there to give the car a good run. We also enlisted another member, Ian Macoomb, making us a three member team, bringing my total cost down to just over $100 ($300 split three ways) – you can’t get much more budget-oriented than this, folks!

Inevitably, the cold took its toll on our chariot of rust and the battery completely failed, stalling the car during one of Alex’s runs. A quick trip to the local auto parts store and $80 later (split three ways, remember) and we were back in business. (Note: If you ever need to replace the battery on one of these vehicles, it is located in the driver’s side fender… not convenient, to say the least.)

Alex managed a very respectable fifth place out of 27 front-wheel drive competitors, while Ian managed fifteenth. The next event was not scheduled until January 25th, which meant the car sat during the coldest time of the year unattended and unloved. Thanks to our new battery, though, the Stratus started right up when I arrived early in the morning on the 25th. Everyone else had their booster cables at the ready, fingers crossed.

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