Joshua Schachter knows a thing or two about going fast. He’s an avid Spec Miata racer and part owner of the Aston Martin-slinging TRG racing team. But the Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor’s latest venture isn’t about getting humans to go fast in cars—it’s about making cars go fast by themselves, and it’s open to anyone brave enough to try.
Schachter is organizing what’s being billed as “The First Autonomous Track Day,” a racing event in the true American run-what-you-brung fashion, only with cars that drive themselves.
With autonomous cars becoming a bigger and bigger part of the future of transportation, Schachter wants to make racing them into a more accessible activity. He’s gotten quite a lot of interest, too, with the signup list including everyone from CEOs working on self-driving go karts to startup tech companies.
“It’s the SCCA equivalent of autonomous car racing,” Schachter told Jalopnik in a recent interview. “We’re trying to create something at the intersection of the racer crowd and the ‘maker’ crowd.”
The new racing series will start out simply as an autonomous car track day at Thunderhill Raceway in California at the end of May, with Schachter funding it all himself for the time being. There are currently 16 different companies and groups on the entry list, and Schachter wants it that way—accessible and not exclusive due to a big price tag.
Those entrants are deeply eclectic bunch. Schachter said they include a joystick-controlled Lincoln MKZ, a vehicle from famed hacker and iPhone-jailbreaking pioneer George “Geohot” Hotz’s new company Comma.ai, an autonomous car from nascent company Renovo Motors, and more.
Rather than putting a lot of money into the operation like the FIA Formula E Championship’s autonomous RoboRace, Schachter wants a casual series. He’ll “just have an event and see who shows up,” The Verge quoted him as saying.