So you want to race a Hyundai Excel. And you want to turn corners as well, perhaps do a bit of road racing. That is quite possible, but you'll have to jump a few hoops along the way.

The first problem is that the Excel is not classified in the General Competition Rules of the Sports Car Club of America. The Tiburon is, and it races in Showroom Stock C against Neons, the Ford Focus and the Mazda Protege. Classification's not necessarily a major barrier. The SCCA is a club and the probable reason the excel's not classified is that no one has-- up to now-- asked. All you have to do is become a member in good standing and you have the right to petition the competition board. A competition license would help. They'll have a nice chuckle, but if they believe you're serious they'll find the car a place to race. You get to be first!

Before you ask the board, you ought to have a good idea of where you want to race. There are two approaches. The low buck approach is to go improved touring racing. IT offers lots of close, competitive racing in cars that are modified from stock. If you're really well off, and you want to go really fast, you might want to consider GT.

Improved Touring

The early excels had a 1.5 liter SOHC engine and weighed just over one ton. That would make it a natural for ITC where you would race against Honda Civics, Volkswagen Rabbits and the first generation Ford Escort! (yes there are people who do race those things)

Under the rules of IT racing (see improved touring) you would strip out most of the interior, all of the pollution control equipment, blueprint and balance the engine, install camber plates, new shocks and bushings. Headers and bore the motor .040 over, if it will take it. It would be nice if you could put in a Quaife limited slip differential, but they don't make one for the car, so you'll have to run open which will limit your traction. Or weld the differential and make the car almost undriveable in the paddock. You would run on DOT approved tires-- which doesn't mean they're street tires at all. One preferred IT rain tire, the Hoosier Dirt Stocker lasts about a lap and a half when it isn't raining. Street legal my ass! In compensation, the soft rubber will allow you to make your last lap a really fast one.

You would have to install an approved roll cage which would probably have to be a custom design, because I'm not sure any bolt-in kits exist. Brace your seat, install a five point racing harness, window net, a fire bottle and an electrical master switch and you're ready to go racing. I'd chuck the tank and go with a fuel cell but I'm a safety conscious kind of guy.


In GT your Excel would probably end up in GT Lite running against Toyotas with the 2TC engine, the Opel Manta, Ford Pinto Datsun 510 or 1400cc Nissans. Pray they don't put you in GT-3. But in GTL you'd have a chance. Might even make The Runoffs.

Remember the old adage: Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go? GT will offer you the chance to find out.

First of all, strip everything off the body. Tube it out. In fact, just throw the body away! But first use it to make body molds to repair the inevitable crash damage. Truth is, you'll have to abandon the tub if you want to win. Buy, or build, a tube frame. Have a body shell reformed out of carbon fiber. You can use fiberglass if you're cheap. The excel is a front wheel drive car. How'd you like to run rear wheel drive? It's easy. Just throw away the front transaxle and rear suspension. Install a live rear axle, say a quick change or a narrowed Ford nine inch. You have your choice of mounting points, whether you want to install a watts linkage or a panhard bar. Brakes not good enough? Throw them away. Install the biggest most bad-assed Brembos you can find that will fit inside a 13" wheel. As many pistons as your wallet will bear. Don't like the macpherson strut front suspension? Order a bigger dumpster and toss those struts. Install double A-Arms of any geometry you like. Lots of 'any' in the GCR section for GT.

You see, GT class cars don't have to start out as an Excel. The GCR states that they are "highly modified replicas of series produced automobiles. Why, run GT and the Comp Board may allow you to throw away the engine, and use another Hyundai engine of its choice. Go to the junkyard and find an Excel with the few required parts. Then get out your catalogs.

Engine and transmission rules are permissive. A five speed hewland or jericho is the hot ticket in GT. Sequential shifting will cost you 50 pounds, but if your butt is large like mine that won't matter much. And when we get to the motor we really get to have fun.

Engine internals are free as long as the bore and stroke are maintained as stock. Think Wiseco. TRW. Federal Mogul. Replace everything with pure race components, with the exception of the block and cylinder head. You have your choice of compression ratios. How's 13 to one sound? 14:1? Fifteen? After all, you're running racing gas anyway. You will blueprint and balance the engine, but this time you get to remove as much material as you want. Just remember, the farther you go the more likely the motor is to go Chernobyl on you. How many motors can you afford?

Port the cylinder head. In GT, the GCR specifically says that the head may be ported and material may be added to the head to facilitate this work. Five grand will turn those nice little valves that came with the motor into coke cans. Any ignition system, any racing camshaft. If you want to redline at 14,000 RPM, go for it. What's a few blown engines anyway? You may or may not be given a spec carburetor setup. Probably you'll choose a pair of 32 DOEC Webers. The 32 stands for millimeters in the throat. That's a lot of carb for a liter and a half. You can even choose fuel injection of any type so long as you observe air inlet rules. Chip away!

For tires you run slicks. Race tires, whose rubber never saw a tree. You have your choice of hard, medium or soft. You run hards if you can barely afford to run, or the race is long. You run softs if you want to win. If it's wet you run rains. Or intermediates if you and Mother Nature can't make a decision. Indecision will leave you slower than everyone who guessed right, and faster than everyone who guessed wrong. They may also keep you on the track.

But you don't get to run nitrous. The SCCA doesn't allow nitrous oxide in any of its race cars. But club races last a lot longer than 14 seconds. Sometimes they go for 24 hours. At Nelsons Ledges Road Course I lap at about 1 min 25 seconds. Fifty seconds of which is at full throttle in my old ITB car. In an average sprint race, I will spend 20 minutes at full throttle. How long does your bottle last? Worse, everyone would have to run nitrous if it were legal, and lots of engines would go boom. In GT, a lot of them already go boom. And why would you want it anyway? Your Excel has become an 1850lb, 200+ horsepower car that will corner at over 1 gee and is stable at 150 MPH. If you want to go faster start with a Mustang or Corvette.

When you're done 'modifying' your Excel you'll have a race car that absolutely nobody else has, so you'll draw a lot of second looks. And you will be grinning. That I promise you. Racing is better than sex.

for info on modifying the excel check out In the SCCA, there is a step between IT and GT categories, known as Production cars. Production class cars are highly modified, but you do have to keep a whole lot of things you threw away to run GT. Recently Production was reorganized with a 'limited prep' division of cars that run GT safety specs and racing slicks, but are otherwise prepared to IT standards. Your Excel would probably end up in H production racing Austin-Healey Sprites.