What is Formula 500?
Formula 500 is a relatively low cost, open-wheel racing class. The cars are based on a purpose-built tube frame racing chasis, utlize a powerful 500cc 2-stroke snowmobile engine and a CVT transmission. The class is offered in the Sports Car Club of America (www.scca.org
), both in their Road Racing and their Solo programs. For additional information on this fast and affordable class, visit www.f500.org
The class rules are designed around extremely low Operating Costs - National Competitors spend less money than many IT competitors.
What does it cost?
A new, race-ready F500 can cost between $15k to $21k, including Data Acq. Used cars can be had for substantially less, $5k on up. Nationally Competitve cars can be had in the $10K to $15K range, depending on the spares package. The 2005 and 2007 Runoffs Winning cars both sold immediately after their races for less than $17K, including spares.
Operating Costs are extremely low. The simplicity of the two-stroke engines lends itself to this. Without a traditional valve train, the low number of moving parts allows most competitors to complete their own off-season maintinance. There is also little benefit to blueprinting. Likewise, the CVT requires very little work. National Competitors change the belt on 4 weekend cycles, at about $50 per belt. With regualr lubrication, the CVT will last numerous seasons with little effort.
Contrary to popular belief, the cars are fully suspended and do not have a 'back-breaking' ride. While all cars utilize modern push rod or pull rod suspensions, the springs are restricted to a non-metallic, fixed dimension rule. As of this writing, a set of springs can be replaced for about $10. Damping is non-hydraulic, and is usually achieved via friction. The chassis damping can be adjusted or 'overhauled' by simply applying a torque wrench.
What equipment do I need?
For the road racing competitor, required equipment revolves around safety. To road race, you will need a certified helmet, a flame retardant suit, driving shoes & gloves, and arm restraints. A head and neck restraint is not required, but they recommended. In Solo Racing, a helmet is the only required piece of safety equipment, although additional items are recommended.
What's the chassis difference between a RoadRacing F500 and an Autocrossing F-Mod
About 45 minutes of labor once you get the hang of it. The main difference between the two set-ups is the final gear ratio & the front rims. RoadRace cars run about a 3:1 final ratio, while Auto-X cars are usually over 4:1. Since the cars are either chain or belt driven, the gears are external and easy to swap. Auto-X Cars also frequently run the wider front rims to help with traction, so another pair will add about $150 to the 'conversion' cost. Some drivers prefer a faster steering rack and different alignment, but many of those changes are up to a driver's preference.
As to experience - Jim Libecco's 2005 Solo National Championship winning car is also the same car that won the 2007 Runoff's Hard Charger Award (19th place to 3rd place). Jim has frequently switched the car back & forth during the season.
One note about Auto-X cars - F-Mod is one of the largest Modified Solo classes, in part thanks to an early 1990s roll bar rule change. While all RoadRacing F500s are Solo legal, the opposite is not always true. When looking at an older chassis, make sure the roll bars meet the current SCCA GCR specs.
Who makes these cars?
There are a number of manufacturers, information on them can be found HERE
Q R E
30 Beattie Ln
New Rochelle, NY 10805
2289 Pleasant Hill Road
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
1021 County Rd 2850 N
Dewey, Il 61840
Race Cars of the Future
301 Fox Dr
Butte, MT 59701
J B Import Automotive
363 16th Street North
St Petersburg, FL 33705
1175 Lake La.
White Lake MI 48386
ellismtsprts at aol.com
How fast are they?
Top speed is approximately 135-145 mph. Cars in a draft have been known to run a bit faster.
What Engines Can I Run?
There are 5 legal engines in F500:
From the GCR, page 1239
Engines shall be two-cylinder, two-cycle, water-cooled in stock configuration as listed below:
Fuji “Chaparral” Model G44bw
Kawasaki "TC440A/C-200, B-201, C-201, C-202, F-202, and G-203"
Rotax Model 494
and Model 493
, single expansion chamber and
electric and/or pull starter. Rotax 494 RAVE engine not allowed.
engine model no. 250-2 RC2
, two-cylinder, two cycle, liquid
cooled, reed valve engine
Realistically the Rotax Models are the only really competitve units for Raod Racing. The AMW, while competitve, originally suffered from reliabilty issues. While these were later corrected, the knowledge base for them is not as great as for the Rotax 494 Engine.
The Kawasaki motor is still competitve in Solo events, although experienced hands say it is harder to tune.
Lap records for various tracks:
THUNDERHILL - 1:53.493
LAGUNA SECA - 1:35.880
INFINEON - 1:41.804
WATKINS GLEN - 2:03.512
ROAD AMERICA - 2:24.850
ROEBLING ROAD - 1:11.864
WILLOW SPRINGS - 1:27.320
POCONO - 1:39.901
SUMMIT POINT - 1:17.493
These lap records are quite competitive, F500's have been known to keep up with cars in significantly more expensive classes
Thanks to Chris Greenwald for the original version of this FAQ