In the past few years I've encountered several opportunities in racing that at best, don't quite offer what they claim and at worst are a complete rip off.

Here are a few possible examples: in short claimed to offer a racing school in a stock car, combined with a elimination style shootout, where the finalists would win a free multiday evaluation on a superspeedway and the ultimate winner would win a full season in a late model. All this was starting for $169! Too good to be true? Seems like that was probably the case. After selling seemingly thousands of entries, they only ran a few dates before postponing all remaining scheduled programs.

Grand Prix Shootout is/was another shootout, this time offering rides and funding up the ladder to F1. The exact format of the shootout changed a few times, but the first evaluation round was generally offered for a thousand or so pounds and up for a test/evaluation in a "saloon" or formula car. The first year awarded two winners, one novice and one experienced driver, and they did run the next year in British Formula Ford with Grand Prix Shootout logos on the car. However, quick internet research reveals that both these drivers may to be pretty well funded on their own which led to speculation of who was paying for the ride.

Although the contest is still on at this time according to their website, many have claimed that they have paid for a spot in the shootout and been left hanging with no refund. Seems like this model is reliant on finding a lot of investors and sponsors to fund the winners racing, and even with good industry contacts, we know how hard that is.

The PBIR Rookie Challenge was a shootout to award a Indy Lights ride. The first year was a $35,000! entry. The team ran drivers in Indy Lights next year, but it's unclear to me who was funding them. The next year, the entry was $7500 and there were to be two winners, one 15-18 who would win a drive in a lower series, and one 18 and up who would win the Indy Lights ride. However, seems like the funding for the drives did not come and the shootout was changed to an academy style format with no award. To me that's a big difference from the original promise!

I see a complaint of drivers being promised refunds that were not given, and do not know if this was resolved or not.

Justin Bell operated a racing school for a few years in the early 2000's which had positive reviews, however reportedly when the school went out of business two dozen students who had already paid were not refunded. It's unclear to me whether this was resolved, but it doesn't appear to have hurt Justin Bell's TV career.

I have no inside information in any of the above. I hate to "callout" anyone especially with no personal experience. But I have a fear of dropping hard earned money for a race seat, test, school etc and showing up to a surprisingly empty track and would hate to see that happen to anyone else. I know racing is a tough tough way to make money and beleive in general if it's too good to be true it just might be. I can only suggest doing your research and doing a "sanity check" on what makes sense and what doesn't.