$2017 Challenge: Celebrating the Country’s Top Low-Buck Builders

A Subaru-powered Honda Insight that can beat most cars at your local autocross; a V8 Datsun that can gobble a quarter-mile in 9.5 seconds; a Hyabusa-powered miniature Mystery Machine: They can be found together in only one place, the Grassroots Motorsports $2017 Challenge.

The event meets every year at Central Florida’s Gainesville Raceway to seek the finest and fastest budget builds. The budget cap always coincides with the year of the event, meaning just $2017 for this year.

The Grassroots Motorsports $2017 Challenge sponsored by CRC Industries and Miller Electric Welders kicked off on Friday, October 20, with the autocross portion of the competition. The students of Georgia Tech’s Wreck Racing have been coming to this event for years, this time claiming top honors with their mid-engined, Subaru-powered Honda Insight.

As evening fell, the 40 Challenge entrants moved over to the Gainesville Raceway drag strip. Andrew Nelson, known for posting blistering Challenge drag times, set a new event record with a 9.521-second run in his altered-wheelbase, V8-powered Datsun 260Z. Don’t believe that such a machine can be built for $2017? Andrew will gladly point out all of his homemade tricks and tips.

The final competition venue was the concours, where entries are judged on innovation and execution. Georgia Tech turned heads once again and claimed top honors.

At the end of the event, Georgia Tech finished first overall in a car that few product planers could have ever envisioned: a cast-off Honda Insight chassis mated to a six-cylinder Subaru engine. The new powerplant has been placed in the rear of the chassis, converting the former front-drive hybrid to a rear-drive layout.

Click here for full results. A photo album will be added to our Facebook page with more images from this year’s event.

This year’s event attracted six school teams, with a group of home-schooled high schoolers claiming the Spirit of Mazda Award with their RX-7 roadster. Dean Case, Communications Officer for Mazda Motorsports, personally presented the award. Smith College Racing, another school team, finished seventh overall, making them the top-placing Mazda at the event.

The $2017 Challenge also featured a sideshow of sorts, the General Tire Challenge. Twenty Challenge competitors faced off on the autocross course in a pair of Mazdas fitted with General high-performance tires. Each driver got a run in a Mazda MX-5 as well as a Mazda3. Forty autocross runs later, Andrew Surprenant claimed top honors plus a free set of tires from General Tire.

Next year’s Grassroots Motorsports $2018 Challenge will take place October 19-20, 2018, and the bench racing has already begun: What would you build?

Thank you to our partners CRC Industries and Miller Electric Welders for helping to make this event possible.

$2017 Challenge Off to an Amazing Start

We're halfway through day one of the Grassroots Motorsports $2017 Challenge, with the autocross finished and the drag racing about to start at Gainesville Raceway. Congratulations to Georgia Tech's Wreck Racing, which took fastest time of day at the autocross by more than a full second! Want to see the rest of the results? Find them here. 

What's next? Tonight our entrants hit the drag strip, trying their best to set the quickest quarter-mile time. Tomorrow is the concours, where judges and competitors alike will have the day to check out the vast field of builds competing this year. The track opens at 9 a.m., with judging commencing at 10 a.m. Need more information? The full event schedule is posted here. 

If you're at the Challenge, and have questions about a particular car or its budget, stop by the Grassroots Motorsports tent and ask for its build book. We're happy to loan any team's book out to any competitor that asks. 

Couldn't make it to the Challenge, but still want to watch? We're live every half hour, and you can find those streams right here.

Thank you to CRC Industries and Miller Electric for continuing to support the Grassroots Motorsports $2017 Challenge.

Last-Minute $2017 Challenge Nissan Sentra SE-R?

Are you impulsive? Do you typically skip the shallow end of the pool and go for a massive cannonball in the deep end? Then this car may be for you. Don’t worry, we’re not saying that this 1993 Nissan Sentra SE-R is a foolhardy project. In fact, it looks like a nicely modified example that has received an engine swap.

Here’s the cannonball: If you buy it now for the $2000 asking price, you could start your own Grassroots Motorsports $2017 Challenge team. Super bonus: Since we’re within two weeks of the event, any car bought and entered between now and the Challenge is eligible for the coveted Last Chance Challenger trophy. Do it. We dare you.