You Can Buy a Near-NASCAR Grade Track Car For $125,000
Be the belle of the ball at your next track day.
High-performance driving events are littered with supercar shenanigans, Sunday drivers, and tractor beam walls waiting to absorb your new Corvette ZR1. These risks are why pricey, purpose-built track cars exist. But if you crave safe speed with a dose of financial responsibility, the folks at Hendrick Motorsports have a 627-horsepower solution for you: Meet the Track Attack, a NASCAR-derived stock car of your very own.
You couldn't ask for a better resume, as Hendrick boasts more NASCAR wins since 1984 than any other team. But building something like the $125,000 Track Attack race car is different than building a competition vehicle, right? But here, the separation of church (NASCAR) and state (HPDE) is far less than one would think, at least according to the Track Attack's progenitor, Hendrick Motorsports' own Bill Snider, and Lance McGrew, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s former crew chief, who now oversees each car's construction.
"Basically, I've done a number of HPDEs with my own car, a C6 Z06," Snider tells The Drive. "And in the course of these events, I saw people taking brand new Porsches and Nissans, right off the trailer with the window stickers still on, and go right onto a racetrack. In one particular case, I saw a Nissan GT-R driver lose control and hit a tire barrier. No one was hurt, but the car suffered significant damage. After thinking about it, how much the cars cost new, the price of repair, and the lack of safety equipment, a light went off in my head."
What you see here is the flame lit by that spark of genius: a NASCAR-derived track car for anyone with enough cash, meant to be "less money on initial purchase, safer, if set up properly, faster, and in effect cheaper to repair than having to go buy [new body] panels," he says. It also doesn't hurt to offer the chance to live out your Days of Thunder dreams.
Every Track Attack is built from the ground up, including the chassis, safety systems like the engine and fuel-cell cutoffs, and plumbed in-cage fire extinguishing system, all using the same engineering that goes into Hendrick's competition cars. Customers will also get fitted for their custom carbon fiber race seat, featuring. "custom molded energy-absorbing foam, 6-point safety harness, leg boards, and knee protection," all of which is built in-house.
"It's head and shoulders above anything a standard car manufacturer can produce," says Snider, who replied with, "It's also far more tunable than a street car."
Because the Track Attacks are designed primarily for road courses, not the NASCAR-standard ovals, Hendrick's engineers added fully-adjustable independent suspension—shocks and springs—at all four corners, adjustable sway bars, and an adjustable Panhard bar to dial in your perfect setup for any given track. Six-piston brake calipers up front are backed up by four-piston in the rear, and you'll need all the clamping force you can get.
Floor model Track Attacks run a Chevrolet-sourced 7.4-liter LSX V8 crate engine; to preserve reliability during repeated track outings, Hendrick's only addition was an external oil pump, which transforms it into a dry-sump motor. The V8's performance is pegged at a flog-ready 627 horsepower and 586 pound-feet of torque.
And with a factory Chevrolet ECU, customers could—theoretically—have their engines serviced by any of Chevrolet's dealerships. Or at the very least, access all the readily available parts through a dealer. Snider explained that the LSX's selection "cuts down on the total cost of the car and the other thing interesting is, you can use off-the-shelf oil in it and it runs on pump gas. You can just run regular Super-Unleaded." That's music to my ears, as forgoing the pricey $10 per-gallon race fuel will be a big money-saver.
Sending power to the rear Hendrick Motorsports 9-inch rear differential is a NASCAR-grade Andrews A431 four-speed manual transmission, the same that's been used in real Cup and Xfinity Series cars for years. It's built to last and nowhere near its maxed-out tolerances—race trim Cup racers produce over 850 horsepower.
Hendrick, however, knows that every driver is not the same and offers a small menagerie of optional extras. For an additional $25,000, a Hendrick Motorsports 358-cubic-inch blueprinted R07 V8, similar to the shop's Truck Series engine, will slide under the hood. You'll then have 725 horsepower at your toes. Hendrick also offers a six-speed, close-ratio sequential manual transmission built by Race Tech Services that has a neat rev-matching feature. According to Snider, the sequential was originally designed for Formula Drift competitors who, funnily enough, originally copied NASCAR's notes and swiped the old G-Force four-speed, dog-leg manual transmissions for their cars a decade ago.
Rounding out your road-course racer, it'll be wrapped in the replaceable composite skin of either a Chevrolet SS or a Camaro ZL1 stock car. They both have the same performance, but Hendrick wanted to give customers options. I'd probably go for the Camaro, myself.
I asked Snider who the Track Attacks are for, to which he replied "The way we see it, it's to replace the GT-Rs, ZL1s, and Z06s. Essentially, for those that buy one of those cars and sets it aside mainly as a track car." He added, "We had a customer who recently purchased a Track Attack after he wrecked a Camaro ZL1 1LE at Virginia International Raceway pretty bad. It scared him enough to make him think, 'If I'm going to continue to do this, I'm going to need a safer car.' He got wind of our program and he'll be getting his car soon." It's also a compelling alternative to other unorthodox track cars in that price range, like a maxed-out KTM X-Bow.
As far as other hens in the henhouse, Hendrick Motorsports is really the only game in town to live that NASCAR life. There are certainly a few driving schools or programs that will let you get behind the wheel of a modern stock car, but none let you take it home.
"I don't know of anyone that's doing it like us," said Lance McGrew, "I know of some people who've tried to do it, but they've been more concerned with two-seaters. But like Bill, I don't believe there's any place on a racetrack for a passenger. We're doing something different."
Today, there are plenty of race-spec supercars available for purchase, including ready-to-rock models from Aston Martin, Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, and Lamborghini. There are even a few hypercar manufacturers getting into the game. But none seem to offer what Hendrick Motorsports is in the Track Attack: a heavy-use, rock-solid reliable, and safe race car. Which, with a little training, could handily stomp everything in the yard.
Just imagining roaring down the back straight of Road America, Willow Springs, or Road Atlanta behind the wheel of my own stock car definitely has my attention. Now if I only had $125,000.
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