BYRON -- For a group of race car drivers in Middle Georgia, racing is not about the roar of a crowd, corporate sponsors or a cash prize.
Their motivation is solely the love of cars, driving fast and kicking up a cloud of dust.
On Saturday members of Middle Georgia Sports Car Club of America were holding a RallyCross race on a dirt field near the old Middle Georgia Raceway.
In their style of racing, cars go off one at a time around a short but winding dirt or grass track marked with orange cones. Each driver makes eight separate runs, four going one way and the four the opposite, and the winner is the person with the lowest total time among all eight runs.
“It’s a good time,” said Chris Ealer, the assistant regional executive of the group and a racer. “You can get out here and see how your car reacts to different surfaces without getting in trouble with the law.”
The single-car style of racing doesn’t lend itself to drawing spectators, he said, because there aren’t any crashes. That means there’s no prize money but it does make auto racing highly accessible. Most of the cars are street legal and most are driven directly to the race track, not hauled in on trailers.
With little risk of wrecking a car and no need for expensive modifications or equipment, it makes for a low-cost way to get into racing. In fact, there are few restrictions on what vehicles can be driven in the race, just classifications such as stock or modified.
In the stock division, anyone can show up at the race in whatever car they might drive to work every day and have at it for a $45 entry fee, or $35 for club members. Even most of the modified cars are street legal. The club has a RallyCross race about every other month.
Most are small cars and Subaru is the leading brand. Some of four-wheel drive and some are two wheel, and those fall into different categories.
Brian Tyson of Dublin is a racer but was working as the starter Saturday. He has a new 2015 Subaru STI. He said he doesn’t mind racing his brand new ride in the dirt, but he prefers another style of racing, which is autocross. The primary difference is that it is done on pavement, typically in a parking lot with a coned course. An autocross race is planned for Sept. 7 in the parking lot of Henderson Stadium in Macon.
One of the few actual spectators there Saturday was Lynn Meeks, who was watching his son, Bryan Meeks. He said he enjoys going to the races.
“It’s fun and it’s thrilling,” he said. “I like cars and I like Subarus.”
One of best things about being attending a RallyCross race, he said, is that drivers will actually let spectators ride with them. There are some extra helmets available just for that purpose.
Racers are also track workers. When one group is racing, the other is out on the track checking for cones that are hit, which is a 2-second penalty, and gates missed, which a 10-second penalty.
Bryan Meeks, 28, was out on the track checking cones with his girlfriend, Ivy Raffield, who raced her daily driver at the last event and loved it.
“It’s stress relieving,” she said.
Anyone who wants to know more about the group and race schedule can go to www.mgascca.com.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.