NASA Texas driver David Lecko wasn’t thrilled at having to shell out thousands of dollars for ceramic rotors, but, being new to the world of track days, he accepted that as the cost of doing business and continued writing large checks to replace his Ferrari’s consumables. For a period of time, the bills didn’t matter. He had found the near-singular focus he’d been searching for.

As his speeds in the Ferrari increased, his concern about a major crash got him thinking that, perhaps, pushing something caged — maybe something in a more competitive setting — was the way forward. His studious approach and his cost-conscious nature pushed him to try his hand at wheel-to-wheel in a first-generation Miata.

The affordable series supporting his road racing foray, the H2R Challenge at Harris Hill Raceway, provided him with a fantastic education. The close competition also had left an indelible mark on him. He knew there was no going back to lapping days, not even in a Ferrari. He found himself debating what kind of kind of car would help him continue to build upon his wheel-to-wheel skills safely.

He knew going racing in an overpowered car wasn’t prudent because he was still learning the ropes. Furthermore, he wanted to try to manage his expenses as well as possible without sacrificing thrill, which meant he wanted something a little swifter than a Spec Miata, but with reasonable running costs. After searching several weeks for a way to level up, he found his answer in the pits at Circuit of the Americas.

There, he noticed something unusual sitting a few stalls away. He introduced himself to the owner, who was happy to field Lecko’s questions. Within 20 minutes, he had received a primer on this intriguing front-midship racer.

Best of Both Worlds

The Ginetta G56 GTA had a lot going for it. Its straightforward operation appealed to Lecko’s business mind, but the lap times set by its owner were what got Lecko’s competitive juices flowing. This particular car had already lapped COTA faster than Lecko had ever gone in his Ferrari — on street tires, no less! Costing half the price of the Ferrari, with three times more power than the Miata and only a little more weight, this unusual British GT intrigued him.

A light bulb switched on — a leap into a new arena seemed possible. The promise of advancement set him off on a week-long dive, studying hours of the Ginetta-specific UK races on YouTube. More searching revealed the car had already made a splash stateside with Kaizen Autosport, which launched its race team debut in March 2021 with a new Ginetta G56 GTA, and won the NASA Mid Atlantic race at VIR. Wyatt Foster not only won in Super Touring 3 that weekend, but also set the fastest lap of the race across all classes with 2:00.84.

Ginetta’s G56 has helped names established like Chadwick and Norris break into the world of pro racing.

After running the numbers to extrapolate the costs over the course of a season, he contacted Ginetta’s stateside headquarters and arranged a test. Once underway, Lecko was jolted with a distilled adrenaline purer than anything his Ferrari had ever provided. Even more than the outright speed, it was this unbelievably direct communication with the vehicle. Nothing had set his senses alight quite like the Ginetta.

The whole purchasing process was simpler than any conventional club racing alternative could offer. Rather than building his own street-based car of comparable cost, Lecko could write a check and wait for a turnkey racing car to arrive at his door. It required a lot of overhead, yes, but it was expedient. Six weeks later, he turned his first few test laps in his own G56 GTA.

The G56 GTA — “GTA” stands for GT Academy — represents for many the first rung of the racing ladder. Those looking to climb up to another rung can jump into the G56 GT Pro, and later the G56 GT4.

Built on a steel tube-frame chassis with fiberglass bodywork, the G56 GTA is lightweight and easy to repair.

Stuffed one foot behind the front axle centerline is a dry-sump 3.7-liter Ford Cyclone V6. In its simplest trim, the motor makes a respectable 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The strong midrange grunt can spin the wheels quite easily, but, unlike a peaky four-cylinder, it is easy to keep the car moving forward. Crucially — and this made a real difference in the long-term running costs — the engine is happy on 93 octane fuel. It is also semi-economical, averaging about one gallon every three laps at Harris Hill. It’s not a sipper, but with a 15-gallon ATL fuel cell, it doesn’t need to be.

A front-midship engine with enough torque at low revs to generate wheelspin is surely a satisfying recipe.

The engine runs on a specific blend of lubricant from Millers Oils to help extend the lifespan as much as possible. In the 30-odd hours he’s put on it, the V6 hasn’t coughed or sputtered once. It’s covered under warranty for the first 60 hours of operation, though some Ginetta racers claim it won’t need a rebuild for a hundred hours.

Vitally, the other main budget consideration piqued Lecko’s interest. The car is designed to run on affordable 245-section Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. The thinking here is that, since this car is meant to help youngsters make the transition from karts into full-size cars, a forgiving, moderately grippy tire would make that jump easier.

While the tires start to fade at the end of a long session, they remain progressive at the limit. Crucially, they are durable, accessible, and affordable. Plus, with the current points system, running these tires slots the Ginetta nicely into Super Touring 3.

Ease of Operation

The motor was surprisingly easy to use, too, though Lecko found it a little too torquey for the tire at first. The snappiness of the throttle on tip-in would shock and unsettle the rear more often than he liked.

To compete in the Ginetta Challenge, he needed an ECU update, which, incidentally, helped remedy his drivability issues. Lecko sent the car off to the US headquarters in Virginia for a $2,500 reflash. Two weeks later, it returned with another 40 horsepower and three new throttle maps to make the V6 more manageable.

Because the G56 GTA lacks traction control, being able to use a more forgiving pedal map makes life considerably easier. However, the driver needs to be cautious when testing the limits of oversteer because steering lock is limited — something Lecko appreciated as he learned to drive without leaning on the nannies.

Predictably, there is no ABS, either, but it isn’t needed. Big Alcon calipers and an AP pedal set provide ample stopping power and encouraging modulation, respectively — the latter being its best trait. As with many purpose-built racing cars, the sense of connection has been prioritized and the driver-vehicle interface has been perfected.

Lecko can fit his 6’2” frame in quite comfortably into the surprisingly spacious cabin.

After getting accustomed to the car, he started giving friends rides around the track to get a sense of how much better a purpose-built racer is. “My friend said that this car made his Porsche 911 feel like a Camry!” Lecko said with a laugh.

The real appeal of a single-purpose machine like this is that so much thought has been given to the level of driver-machine engagement, the safety features, and practical realities of racing. It’s meant to be easily operated, and not just when it’s moving at speed.

How many club racers come with air jacks?

It may lack driver aids, but an intuitive PDM setup, an onboard brake bias adjuster, air conditioning, and a paddle-shifted transmission make life a little easier when driving. In the pits, air jacks and easily removable body panels simplify repairs and save time. On that note, the whole transmission will flush itself simply by removing a sensor. The aim is to spend as much time as possible racing, not wrenching.

The PDM controls lights, wipers, air conditioning, indicators, throttle maps, and even offers a speed limiter for full-course yellows.

Now, though there aren’t many cars of comparable speed that are as cost-effective, the Ginetta still goes through consumables. In the interest of transparency, the 30,000-mile service costs are disclosed below:

  • $5,176 for a pair of half-shafts
  • $1,250 for wheel bearings
  • $1,100 for brake pads
  • $5,809 for brake discs
  • $102 for a fuel filter
  • $102 for accessory belts and seals

Principles Pave the Way

Being relatively new to the sport, his rate of advancement has been remarkable. With coach Derek Eastty’s assistance, Lecko has been able to set competitive times in just a few months. Seeing his student improve in such a short span — attributable as much to coaching skill as the directness and the manners of the Ginetta — left Eastty tickled pink.

Just seven months with the car, and he’s already won a few ST3 events in the NASA Texas Region. This year, he aims to run the whole season as well as the next Ginetta Challenge event, which will be part of Hyperfest. Despite enjoying a good deal of success at the lower rungs, he refuses to rest on his laurels.

Lecko holds a few guiding principles to help him climb the racing ladder as quickly as possible. In addition to emphasizing seat time, receiving high-quality instruction, and finding ways to limit his expenses, he’s already considering the next step of the journey — even if he is not yet ready to make that step. “I like to have a purpose in whatever I do,” he began, “and maybe I’ll consider GT4 in a couple years. The ladder they’ve built to help us transition into the faster cars makes my life a lot easier. I’m just thankful they’ve done so much of the planning for me.”

The GT4 variant sports a 6.2-liter V8 as well as Bosch ABS and TC.

Some live to build and create a car in which they will grow as a driver. Others need a tool to refine their craft because advancement as a racer is, to them, what matters most. For the latter group, doing anything at the track other than driving isn’t a great use of their time.

It is easy to spend a hundred grand modifying a street car, and even then, the well-built examples may lack that special connection and balance that a purpose-built racing car offers. If you are planning on building a street car-based racer to the point where it needs to be trailered, you might want to think twice — it is liberating to sit in something that has all the little issues ironed out beforehand.

Owner: David Lecko
Year: 2023
Make: Ginetta
Model: G56 GTA
Weight: 2,750 pounds with driver
Engine/Horsepower: Ford 3.7-liter V6/310 hp
Transmission: Quaife MLG 200 6-speed gearbox with helical-cut gears and paddle shift
Suspension Front: Quantum One Zero
Suspension Rear: Quantum One Zero
Tires Front: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 245/35/20
Tires Rear: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 245/35/20
Brakes Front: Alcon
Brakes Rear: Alcon
Data system: Motec
Sponsors: @dlecko

 

Images courtesy of David Lecko, Ginetta, David T Gillen and

4 COMMENTS

    • This is my car in the article. It is recommended at 30 hours of track driving (not including idle time). Pretty standard for race car stuff from what I have learned. I actually got a bit more life – just did the service at 52 hours (20% of which was idle time according to my data logger).

Join the Discussion