udgeting: there really is nothing scarier than talking money when it comes to building a car. I refuse to do the maths needed for the stack of invoices I’ve got sitting in the bottom drawer. It’s even more scary when you’re keeping that invoice folder securely tucked away from those who would contest the exorbitant amounts of money being poured into it — RIP all the lads out there who have had their missus find it. The difference between how much you want to spend versus how much you can actually afford to spend can put a dampener on any build, and, when you do come into a little bit of coin, a proper budget could help save you from, well ... yourself. The longer I’ve spent building my own car, the more I’ve learned this. Over the course of the last few months, a mountain of tweaks and changes to my original plan has meant an increased amount of cash being sucked into the car, and, the more you do change your plan, the easier it is to fall down that rabbit hole of no return — a familiar story for many of our feature-car owners, no doubt. However you decide to spend your coin, be that dumping serious amounts into the blingy bits and skimping on the essentials or vice versa, make sure to have a hard think about where it’s really going to count.
The one area that I have neglected the most in previous years is proper safety equipment — I didn’t plan to crash. Even though I didn’t plan for it, though, I did crash, and probably will again in the future. It’s an inevitable in motorsport; even the pros make mistakes. The importance of good safety equipment has been highlighted for me even more in recent times with a few friends being involved in serious, potentially life-ending crashes, and they were all saved by having the right safety pieces in place. This was the driving factor for putting a solid cage into my car; installing quality seats and harnesses; replacing the old $1 Trade Me helmet; and, probably one of the most important things, investing in a HANS ( head and neck support) device — if you want perfect examples of why you should do this, Google Tony Longhurst’s crash at the 1991 Nissan Mobil 500 in Wellington or flick to page 96 to see Glenn Hodges’ March in Under Construction.
All this stuff is pretty accessible at a reasonable price nowadays, and if you plan to run in any kind of amateur series, or even at a handful of track days, most — if not all — of this safety equipment will be a requirement. You really can’t put a price on your well-being or, in some cases, life.
Keep safe out there, kids.