Working Towards A Racing License Through NASA

"Okay, so if I buy a race car, how do I get to race it?" If you're looking to enter the wide world of club racing, you'll need to get a racing license first. While every group has its own process for licensing, they all usually recognize the two main groups' licenses: NASA and SCCA.

Here's Oppositelock author HNBAS explaining how NASA (the National Auto Sport Association; no relation to sweet rocketships) does its licensing and where he's at with getting ready to race his Spec Miata.

How to Spec Miata: The long road to the license

You can't go racing without a competition license and each sanctioning body has its own process for getting one. For NASA, the group I plan on racing with, that process involves participation in HPDE until the regional director allows you to do competition school. Comp school happens at a HPDE/Race weekend and consists of proving yourself on and off track. You don't have to be fast, you just have to show that you have proper track awareness and can pass/ get passed without killing someone, including yourself.

I've worked my way up to HPDE 2 group already with a couple of track days so I went to Memphis International Raceway to hopefully move up group 3, which is the entry point to competition school. At this point, my Miata has only been driven around Walmart parking lot and an autocross.

(also pictured is my new truck... 'Merica!)

Long story short, the car did great. The track was cold both days in the morning, and had a ton of grip later in the day. The Miata is such a well sorted car. This is my first Miata and my first experience on a road course with slicks (Hoosier SM6 and SM7's). One session into Saturday and I felt like I finally knew why the answer is always Miata.

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I didn't change anything but tire pressures the whole weekend. The car was neutral when it needed to be, it was loose when you needed it to be, it pushed when you made it push. I was blown away. So the weekend went on being great and full of awesome. The problem arose when I wanted to move up to HPDE3. This process is traditionally done with a "check ride." An instructor rides with you and makes sure you've got what it takes to be in group 3 (which allows for a more free passing experience). Sooo... how does one get a "check ride" in a single seat car?

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Like this... like the NASA MidSouth Region Director in his American Iron Mustang running me down for about 7 or 8 straight laps. The Mustang is a much much faster car, and in any spot on the track other than the "M" on the back side he was all over me. I knew he wasn't going to pass me, but he put an immense amount of pressure on me, diving inside at braking points, trying to set me up on the outside of turns, just generally being a mirror-full. I held it together and he passed me on to the HPDE 3 group.

So, I'm on track but it takes a while. Next event is December 5th and 6th at Memphis again. I'm ready. The car is ready. I can't wait.

Here's some gratuitous video and pics...

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I just like that I can see my face in that one. I have no idea what I'm doing with my face most of the time in the car.