These cars don't need a trailer to get to the track.
Spending the day at the track is one of the great joys of being a car enthusiast. You can cut loose without fear of a speeding ticket, enjoy exploiting a car's grip and handling as intended, and refine your high-speed driving skills. Of course, you can build a car specifically for the track to give yourself every advantage in shaving off tenths of a second. Still, sooner or later, you're going to realize that carpets, soundproofing, AC, and safety systems are heavy, as are power-sapping emissions systems. Then your car isn't road legal anymore, and you're going to need a trailer, and space to store it and your race car. And you'll have to invest in a towing vehicle. However, if you have a spare spot in the garage, you can buy a stripped-down hardcore track toy that's just barely street legal and comfortable enough to drive to the track.
Here, we're going to focus on cars specifically designed and built for hot laps, not hyped-up versions of production sports cars. However, we can't guarantee that you still won't get passed by a kid in a battered 300,000-mile stock Mazda MX-5 that puffs blue smoke on the downshift.
Nobody does a stripped-down street-legal track car like the Brits. The Briggs Automotive Company has been expanding its dealer network in the US since 2017 and has dealerships in New York, Dallas, and now in Detroit. The latest iteration of the Mono is powered by a 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbo engine producing 340 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and weighs just 1,223 pounds due to the pioneering use of lightweight materials. Its power-to-weight ratio propels it from 0-60 mph in 2.7 seconds and it can hit 170 mph on the straights. Its low center of gravity and perfect weight distribution mixed with precise suspension geometry and adjustable shocks means it's just as fearsome in the corners.
The Caterham 7 is a track day icon. It was originally based on Colin Chapman's Lotus 7, to which Caterham bought the rights. Since 1973, it's been developed as both a kit car and a car you can buy fully-built and with multiple engine configurations. The range has been simplified now with "S" or "R" representing if it's meant for street or track use. That kind of breaks our sports car with a track package rule, but we're going by the Caterham Seven's roots. The 620R is the top of the range and powered by a dry-sump supercharged 2.0-liter Ford Duratec engine making 309 hp. That power goes through a six-speed sequential gearbox, a limited-slip differential and to a set of 13-inch Apollo alloy wheels wrapped with ZZS tires. It weighs just 1,349 pounds and dashes to 62 mph (100 kph) in 2.79 seconds.
In Europe, the Audi-engined, 300-hp track monster from KTM is street legal. But sadly in the US it is not. The engine is transversely mounted in the middle of a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis. The X-Bow (pronounced as crossbow) features a racetrack-focused, horizontally mounted, triple-adjustable push-rod suspension, a front/rear brake balance adjuster, and tuned aerodynamics. The X-Bow is built to FIA GT racing standards, and as well as no roof or windscreen, it doesn't have doors either. The American X-Bow Comp R has a six-speed manual as standard, with an available dual-clutch setup. The X-Bow only recently made it to US shores, so hopefully soon we'll get one that the EPA will let us put a license plate on.
Not only did Ariel bring the Atom 4 to America, it's also built for the US market. It's powered by a quick-revving turbocharged K20C Honda 2.0 liter i- VTEC engine making just less than 320 hp. The 1,312 pounds of tubular chassis are pushed to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, 100 mph in 6.80 seconds, and on to a top speed of 124 mph. It rides on adjustable Bilstein dampers, but you'll also see the names Eibach, AP Racing, Tilton, ITG, and Goodridge on the spec list. The Atom has a reputation as a fun car, but the fact it'll pull more lateral G in a corner than a Porsche GT3 is outright hilarious.
Factory Five Racing advertises with the tagline "Built not bought," but the reality is you buy the car and then build it yourself. You'll need the kit and some choice running parts from a 1997-2004 Chevrolet C5 Corvette and the transaxle, ideally, from a Porsche 911. Once you've built a GTM, assuming you use a 400-hp LS6 engine from GM, you have a car that will hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, come to a halt again in 110 feet, and pull 1.05g in a corner on street tires. Of course, the LS6 is available as a crate engine and incredibly tunable, so you don't have to stop at 400 hp.
Europeans have the most choice of barely-legal track weapons, and the Elemental RP1 is one of the best. The carbon-fiber tub weighs just 143 pounds and exceeds FIA structural performance standards. Integrated front and rear underfloor aerodynamics produce 2,204 pounds of downforce at 150 mph, which is close to race car levels. Elemental uses a 2.3-liter Ford Ecoboost engine tuned to just shy of 370 British horsepower to propel the RP1. That power goes through a six-speed sequential gearbox and propels the 1,366-pound RP1 to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds.
Praga is over 100 years old as an automaker, but the R1R is its first road-going car since 1947. Praga hasn't been idle, though, as the R1R is a street-legal version of its Praga R1 prototype race car. It's powered by an F4R 832 RenaultSport engine making 390 hp through a sequential transmission. The sprint to 60 mph comes in under three seconds, but it's cornering where the Praga R1R really shines. It's one of those cars with aerodynamic downforce so strong it can theoretically drive upside down.
Radical designs race cars, and the RXC GT-Road is eligible for Road Legal Sportscar racing and the Radical Nevada Cup. It features an FIA specification front crash box, an adjustable pedal box, adjustable in-car engine mapping and a full fire suppression system. Its aerodynamics can apply up to 1,900 lbs of downforce. However, it also has electrically adjustable mirrors, a heated windscreen, and you can option air conditioning. As well as other race car features like a Formula 1 'style' paddle-activated gearshift system that auto blips the throttle, it has a fully adjustable antiroll bar system. Power comes from a 3.5-liter Ford EcoBoost V6 making 400 hp, but can be upgraded to 650 hp. It weighs 2,480 pounds, will hit 60 mph in 2.7 seconds, and pull 1.9g in a corner in standard spec or 2.1g with the upgrade.
We're big fans of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, and the 003CS is the even more track-oriented version of the 700-hp BMW-powered 003S. Both versions hit 60 mph in under three seconds, come with Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, Forgeline center lock wheels, adjustable shocks, and will pull 2g in a corner. The 003CS increases available downforce from 1,900 pounds to 2,200, and weighs just 2,600 pounds. It's built in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and there's also a full competition-spec version available if you want to go endurance racing.