Exclusive: U.S. Legend Cars - Past, Present and Future

Several top-crop Cup Drivers of today started out in Legend Cars and here’s how these affordable track weapons have evolved over the past three decades

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If you like the Cup Series and NASCAR in general, then you probably know about the Legend car already. It was created back in 1992, in a bid to make racing more accessible and affordable.

Well, the concept started by U.S. Legend Cars International has been a landmark success for the brand. Having made over 9000 examples so far, it has gone on to become the most mass-produced competition car in history. They’re put together at U.S. Legend Car’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Harrisburg, North Carolina.

Exclusive: U.S. Legend Cars - Past, Present and Future
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The sport and company as a whole have evolved a lot over the past 30 years and U.S. Legend cars currently have a presence in over 29 countries around the world. Up to 50-percent of cup drivers today started out in Legend cars, including greats like Joey Logano and current Nascar Champion, Chase Elliot.

Legend cars are a great way to hone your skills early on. With the level of power and grip they offer, you require a similar skill set to what you need on a modern-day cup car.

Drivers compete in a range of classes dubbed Legend Car Divisions, based on age and the level of experience they carry in an action-packed racing calendar at venues across the country.

  • Young Lions
  • Semi-Pro
  • Masters
  • Pro
Exclusive: U.S. Legend Cars - Past, Present and Future
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With the Legend car, the main motive of course was to create a race car that was just as expensive as a fishing boat. Legend cars are basically ⅝-scale fiberglass full-rendered versions of the famed NASCAR modifieds from back in the day.

Early examples of the Legend car featured a 1200cc air-cooled four-cylinder Yamaha engine. These motors sounded great but weren’t as reliable. Fast forward to today and current Legend cars pack a more reliable 900cc liquid-cooled three-cylinder mill instead and it puts out 125 horsepower.

We switched to a 900 cc Yamaha three-cylinder engine that is liquid-cooled. It is much more reliable and we made this transition about three years ago. It's the first engine that's also been used in dirt racing and has only come in for two rebuilds so far, so it’s much more reliable now. - said Graham Smith - Managing Director at U.S. Legend Cars International

The car itself has gotten minor technical as well as safety improvements over the years. They’re incredibly light and weigh just 1,250 pounds with a driver.

Exclusive: U.S. Legend Cars - Past, Present and Future
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Exclusive: U.S. Legend Cars - Past, Present and Future
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But US Legends Cars also sell the Bandalero car, which is a turnkey spec-series racer. It is a stepping stone between a ¼ Midget car and a race car and it’s designed for kids as young as eight years old. Underneath the lightweight body lies a Briggs and Stratton 570cc Vanguard engine, that’s mounted behind the driver. It produces 30 horsepower.

We introduced the Bandolero at a lower cost, for a younger crowd starting at age eight. It only has about 30 horsepower and has a glorified lawn mover engine that we actually tune-up at a shop and put in the back of the car.
Exclusive: U.S. Legend Cars - Past, Present and Future
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In the current climate, the entire automotive landscape is making a shift towards electrification and the world of Motorsport too is starting to embrace newer and more sustainable technologies like hybridization and application of synthetic/biofuels.

When asked if Legend Cars would ever adopt these cutting-edge technologies in their race cars, Graham from U.S. Legend cars was quick to point out that adoption of such tech isn’t out of question, provided it evolves to a point where the price makes it feasible. The primary objective will still remain to keep costs down for their customers.

Aside from the Legend car and the Bandalero, the Thunder Roadster is another fantastic derivative of the Legend car. It has a longer wheelbase and had the same 1250 same power plant. Switching to the 900cc engine though wasn’t very fruitful as the low-end torque from this engine just wasn’t sufficient because the Thunder Roadster is a much bigger car.

We are actively looking to find another engine for the Thunder Roadster and that’s definitely a car that has the potential to be a track day car of the future
Exclusive: U.S. Legend Cars - Past, Present and Future
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Legend Cars International has indeed come a long way over the past three decades. While they’re currently well known for producing some truly exceptional and affordable race cars, they intend to now revitalize the brand and go back to the company’s roots, which is to make this a hobby as much as it is about racing and turn it into a family-oriented sport.

Khris Bharath
Khris Bharath
Khris is a classic car aficionado and adores his Jags and Alfas, although he keeps tabs on everything from super exotics like an old EB 110 to the latest from Lucid. Formula One is very close to his heart, and he diligently makes time to tune in for the Grand Prix on Sundays. Khris also loves his road trips and he prefers a stick shift over an auto any day.  Read full bio
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