Customer racing programs have been around for awhile, but recently more and more manufacturers have begun to offer turn-key racing versions of their street cars for customers to buy and use on track.
This is Mercedes's "entry-level" race car, meant to compete in the Blancpain GT World Challenge America series. It looks just as cool as the road car, and, as we discovered in our first drive review, is very approachable.
McLaren knows how to make pretty race cars, and its new 720S is no exception. It looks even better than the road-going version, and we assume it's quick as hell around a track.
Though it isn't built for any specific racing series, the GT2 RS Clubsport certainly deserves a spot on this list. It has the 700-horsepower twin-turbo flat-six from the GT2 RS road car, but with less weight and more aero. Porsche is currently in talks to get it homologated for the Blancpain Series in the US and Europe, so we'll just have to wait and see if it ends up going racing.
Acura launched its racing program last year with the NSX GT3. Unlike the street car, the NSX GT3 doesn't have a hybrid system, and puts its power to the rear wheels only.
Porsche's customer racing program is among the most extensive in the industry, with its GT3 Cup being the most popular model. There are entire series dedicated to it, which often produce skilled drivers.
Unlike the 718 road car, which uses a selection of turbocharged-four cylinder engines, the new GT4 Clubsport race car has a naturally aspirated flat-six, just like the previous version. That makes it easier for crews to work on, and more exciting for fans.
The GTO was built for GT racing in the early 1960s, competing against cars like the Shelby Cobra. It was wildly successful, and is now considered one of the most valuable cars of all time.
Instead of having to build a street car into a drag monster from scratch, Chevy offers a quarter-mile-ready car from the factory: The COPO Camaro. It's powered by a 350 cubic-inch racing engine with a 2.9-liter Whipple supercharger attached.
Chevy isn't the only company to offer a factory track-only drag car. Ford's Cobra Jet is a limited-production supercharged drag monster, with a Coyote V-8 and a solid rear axle.
In the 1990s Ferrari had a F355 spec series, held before each F1 race as a support series. The cars were stock F355s with dealer-modified packages, raced by customers. The races were truly fun to watch.
If you're looking for a cheap way to break into racing, Mazda's MX-5 Cup program is perhaps the best way to do it. The car is (relatively) cheap to buy and maintain, and provides an excellent platform to showcase and develop driving skill.
Ferrari's racing program is nearly as extensive as Porsche's with a full race series and Le Mans entries. Thanks to the wonderful platform provided by the 488 street car, the GTE is a wonder on track.
Ford's racing program is handled through M-Sport, which builds the majority of the top-series Ford rally cars used in WRC and the US. Whether you're just starting out or a seasoned veteran, there's a Fiesta rally car available for you.
While Audi's brand is famous for its signature Quattro all-wheel drive system, its RS3 TCR has to make due with power going only to the front wheels and a limited-slip differential. It's still a weapon on a circuit.