Taxi cabs, cop cars, and limos have three things in common: They lead hard lives. Most of them are based on Ford's Panther platform. And when those lives are over, they go to the junkyard. Let's give them a second life. Let's go racing.
Low buck racing is everywhere these days. LeMons, Chump Car, Grassroots Motorsports Challenges, and more are getting people in race cars for less than we ever thought possible. A total budget of around $3,000 can get you into a race to have some fun.
As I see it, the problem is that some cars are more equal than others in these low-buck races. For instance, LeMons is becoming a BMW E30 playground. It's the car to have. If you buy something else, you basically need to resign yourself to the fact that you won't be winning the race. You'll just be out there to have some fun.
Now, there's nothing wrong with having fun and being creative with your car design. A lot of casual club racing is the fun. But I'm very competitive. I want to be on pole. I want to win overall. And I'm not the only person like that.
I've just moved to Manhattan so I'm also increasingly impoverished. That's where Spec Panther comes in.
The class is open to 1992 to 2012 Ford Crown Victorias, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Lincoln Town Cars (from 1990 on). The spec is simple: We upgrade the brakes to those on the Police Interceptor, run a spec tire (aftermarket wheels are ok), minimum vehicle weight, and add a roll cage, since insurance would require that. We might also need a fuel cell so the cars don't explode when hit. There's probably going to be some bashing... Also, all cars must be street legal and registered, and arrive at the track under their own power. That will cut down on costs of expensive tow vehicles and trailers.
That's it. Every other part of the car is to remain stock. I think that will work just fine. We're limiting the budget for the purchase of the car to $1,500, so there's the chance to get a real cherry Crown Vic. But you can still run a $300 Town Car. And it could still win.
It's not like there's a shortage of spares for Panthers. The platform was introduced in 1979 and made it all the way until 2012. Just go to any junkyard and bammo, you'll have spares for years.
With this series, we're going to help give Panthers a second life and keep the parts flowing off of shelves. You can still do crazy liveries or make your cars into characters like they do in LeMons, but everyone will have the opportunity to start on equal footing. You don't have to worry about finding the right E30 to be competitive. You'll all be in semi-identical Panthers.
What could possibly go wrong with that?
Races will be held on traditional circuits as well as rally cross stages. Imagine sliding these across dirt with 20 or 30 others in tow. Oh yeah, that'll be fun.
For a lot of people, club racing is just about getting out on track and having fun. But then there's the rest of us. The people who want to have fun but also really want to win. And we don't have a ton of money.
Spec Panther promises to be less expensive than Spec Miata or karting and be just as, if not more fun. People around you might also call it Sex Panther, which is just hilarious.
It's going to be competitive on the cheap. It won't be as expensive as Spec Miata or even karting (which is amazingly expensive these days), and will be just as much fun for everyone. It's the perfect series.
Now I just need to start it. Let's get this going. You in?
Photo Credit: Challenger Motorsports