Cheap Racing For All: The GRM $2016 Challenge

It’s possible that the most expensive part of Roadkill–aside from the post-shoot bar tab—is track rental for all our idiot stunts. You may not be able to lock down a road course for your private usage, but if you’ve ever said, “I wish I could be like David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan and drive junk on a racetrack,” it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Cheap racing is in, and while 24 Hours of LeMons might be the most well-known crapcan competition, it’s not the only game in town. Grassroots Motorsports Magazine has long been the champion of the little guy who wants to turn corners, and the GRM Challenge is set up to get people a lot of track time for just a little dough. $2,016 might not be couch change, but in racing terms, it’s nothing. The Grassroots Motorsports $2,016 Challenge gives you a price cap for your build. We’ll let you guess that number. Did you guess $2,016? You’re smart.


$2,016 is the price cap for the car-build budget. It’s also the same number as the year, so participants got an extra dollar to spend this year. The cars are required to do three things: autocross, a quarter-mile pass, and a Parc Expose—which is a fancy word for “car show.” You can get the full details at the GRM website if you’re interested in the rules. We’re going to take a look at a few of the cars that showed up this year starting with a tri-hybrid (trybrid?) build from Chris Bryant and Mitchell Does.


The Forester Ford truck is a snowplow quad-cab cab, the frame and suspension are pulled out of several junked Subaru Foresters, and the engine is out of a ’79 Corvette. Here’s a YouTube video of the Chris and Mitchell explaining their car… truck… thing.


Slightly more conventional—but not much, is Calvin Nelson’s 1963 Studebaker Lark. Calvin built this car with his dad and brother. The guys found dirt track car parts at a flea market and scored an LS engine from someone who just needed to get rid of it. The Lark is Calvin’s first car, which he bought for $200 when he was 16 years old.

“What if I can’t build a racecar? Can I enter my daily driver?” Of course! Eric Zimmerman competed in his cross-country driven 2002 Impala SS. This event was just one of his stops on his journey to spread the word about his non-profit organization, The Buddy Project, which is dedicated to helping people with disabilities connect better with the world through technology.


A car building competition like this proves that you don’t need sponsors or a big pile of money to make an event fun and exciting. Chris and Mitchell are good friends that like creating cars and drinking beer. Calvin grew up in a family where building cars with what you had was the norm.

The idea isn’t about setting new records or dominating all three fields of the competition. It’s simply about creating something from your own two hands and seeing if it survives mechanically. You can build anything you want with four wheels with a group of your buddies or with your own family. Make it what you want, but be sure you actually make it. There are plenty of places to race it when you’re done.

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Roadkill Fall 2016 Cover