Imagine building your project car with Dale Earnhardt Jr.s old tachometer, Joey Logano s rear axle, or Jimmie Johnsons trailing arms. Well, you can. Used race-car parts are out there, and you dont have to wake up for an early morning auction to find them. Quicker than a race car can be built, it can be disassembled and parted out. According to those in the industry, 90 percent of a NASCAR race car s parts can be recycled and repurposed, so we decided to go figurative dumpster-diving in NASCAR country to see if its possible to recycle last seasons race car into this years personal custom build. Imagine bragging to your friends that your switches came out of Dale Earnhardt Jr.s car. How to Buy a NASCAR Engine When a sanctioning body changes its spec rules, the market floods with leftover parts. Take, for instance, the Chevrolet SB2 spec engine used in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, which was introduced in 1998 and replaced by the R07 in 2007. At one time, we had a lot of them, said Dennis Borem, manager at Pro Motor Engines (PME). Thats starting to dwindle, but theres a big market for street rods. The SB2 engine is currently still allowed in the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series. Its pretty easy to get 800 horsepower out of an SB2, Dennis said. A well-worn engine may be scored for as low as $5,000 to $8,000, but typically, a refurbished SB2 from PME runs $10,000 to $20,000. The SB2 is designed for racing, with lightweight pistons rings that seal best with frequent high-rpm use. A PME-repurposed street engine features thicker piston rings and dished pistons to lower the 12:1 compression. Dennis also recommends a more low-end-friendly camshaft. An engine built with new partswhich are rare, as Chevrolet has ceased manufacturing SB2 componentsgoes for around $30,000 to $40,000. Its hard to beat a small-block Chevy , Dennis said, but the person we sell the SB2s to is looking for something different. Also, the SB2 inherently makes more power. The lower divisions, like Super Late Model, still run 23-degree small-block Chevys that produce 600 horsepower. A used SBC like this is $7,000 to $10,000 or new for $20,000 to $22,000. Of course, there are also the Ford engines: the FR9 Carb introduced in 2009 and the FR9 EFI engine introduced in 2012. They are still in high demand, as the current Fords running the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (EFI version) and the Xfinity Series (carb version) rely on them. A new FR9 block retails for more than $13,000. If you were able to get your hands on a Chevrolet R07 engine outside of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, youd likely want to change the EFI setup. The R07 uses an expensive and sealed McLaren ECU, and the less-than-ideal fuel-injector placement is mandated by the rules. One engine builder told us they made it crappy for every manufacturer to keep the injector placement fair among teams. Chevrolet manufactures R07 engines, which can be purchased new through one of the licensed race teams, such as Hendrick Motorsports, but its difficult to purchase a complete engine from a team. For Hendrick , the pistons, oiling system, and camshafts are top-secret bits you cant buy. Timing plays an important role in scoring an engine. The Camping World Truck Series and ARCA Series both allow the Ilmor Engine NT1spec engine, which will be mandatory in the truck series next season. Recently, Triad Racing Technology, a supplier of Toyota NASCAR engines, sold off all its Toyota engine assets, possibly in response to the new rules. Rule changes, coupled with the rumors of the R07 being replaced in the near future, may soon cause an influx of used engines on the market. Where and How to Buy Used NASCAR Parts or Tools Formerly, the best way to score used parts or tools was visiting a race-shop auction, often at one going out of business. Those events are rarer because used-parts houses have sprouted up over the last decade. The major used-parts sellers include Hendrick Motorsports Raced Parts, Circle Track Warehouse (formerly 2nd Chance Racing), and SRI Performance (formerly Roush Racing Used Parts). All, with the exception of Hendrick Motorsports, are located in the same town as the majority of the NASCAR teams: Mooresville, North Carolina. How do you steal parts that top-level teams have devoted millions of dollars to perfecting? You buy them used. These AutoMeter 5-inch tachometers sell for around $100. SRI Performance is the largest, with 30 employees in a 40,000-square-foot facility, literally across the street from Circle Track Warehouses 20,000-square-foot building.SRI Performance acts as a thrift shop, where its appraisers visit local shops or parts are dropped off. Items are sorted, inspected, cleaned, tested, and tagged. Most electronic items are tested and everything is given at least a basic inspection for breaks, damage, and so on. Any broken or worn items are discarded. Pricing begins at roughly 50 percent of retail. SRI Performance says it doesnt necessarily base pricing on demand but rather the condition of individual parts. Higher-mileage items sell for less. SRI will trash any worn or unrepairable items and fix those that can be fixed. Radiators and trans coolers receive soda blasting, a flush, and fresh paint. A stack of lower control arms at SRI Performance gives you an example of how plentiful suspension components are. Circle Track Warehouse is a much smaller operation, with owner Bryan Rogers, his wife, and one on-call employee. Bryan said he buys parts almost every day: I generally have about 10 to 12 shops I deal with weekly. Other shops prefer I call them monthly or yearly. He purchases and inspects everything he sells, but doesnt do the same prep and refurbishing as SRI Performance. In the case of high-end items like scales and driver A/C units, those are sent back to the manufacturers for inspection and recalibration. These methods, according to Bryan, allow him to sell parts cheaper than the competition. One of the largest teams in NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, simply sells its own items through Hendrick Raced Parts. When cars return from a race weekend, theyre torn down, with parts tagged and placed into cabinets. When the cars are reassembled, parts are checked for dates and miles. If an item has exceeded its usage in Hendrick cars, its sent to Raced Parts for resale. Every component has a predetermined life, and we push them to less than 50 percent, said Mark Anderson, manager at Hendrick Raced Parts. Mileaged Out Indeed, all NASCAR parts have a lifespan. For big teams, their lifespan is a fraction of their true use, but once they reach the teams predetermined amount of race time, those items are considered mileaged out and sent to a used-parts warehouse. Everything usable off a crashed race car is sold, no matter the mileage. Certain components on the race car can only go a certain amount of laps, said Karl Altomare Jr., engine tech sales at SRI Performance. Sometimes what team A thinks is mileaged out, team Bthe lower-grade teamcan use for an entire season.The most common mileaged-out components are driveline expendables like axles, third members, and brakes. They are typically rated for 600 to 1,200 miles, which is one or two weekends. An ARCA racer will run that same part for several years after that, Bryan said.Ford 9-inch housings can be found for less than $100 and locker assemblies $100 to $150. The third members are around $600 to $1,200, depending on the condition and quality of components. For top teams, an inexpensive item like spark-plug wires are only raced once. When you have millions of dollars tied up in a race team, you dont want to risk it over a $300 set of wires, said Alex Cummings, marketing specialist with SRI Performance. They sell used for $45 a set and can be used on most small-block applications. Teams often switch sponsors, as well, which means products, parts, cars, or branding from a competitor must disappear.Late in 2018, Richard Petty Motorsports switched from Ford to Chevrolet when it partnered with Richard Childress Racing. Therefore, it sold all Ford cars, engines, and parts to SRI Performance. That was the last major team to sell a fleets worth of parts. Some of the most common items sold for street applications are suspension parts, which include the double-wishbone-style arms, spindles, and rear trailing arms. Metalworking tools, welders, and other sundry items are commonly liquidated, too. SRI recently sold a batch of 16 welders from a single team. We receive anything a shop has, Karl said. Weve received ice makers, microwaves whatever is at the shop, they bring in to sell. When Micheal Waltrip Racing closed its doors in 2015, SRI received the bulk of its team's items, including a complete gym used by the pit crew. Ultimately, the best method to purchase parts is to visit the showrooms in person. Items come in and go out of the shops quickly, meaning shop websites arent regularly updated. Salesmen are often the best resource for scoring parts that are out of stock. They know where the demand is and keep on the lookout. The end of the year is a good time, too, as the resale shops are clearing house to prepare for new stock. Circle Track Warehouse sponsors a blowout sale every December (Charlotte Racers Expo) because it makes room for an influx of parts it receives. Think of the parts houses less like crows waiting for scraps from failed teams and more like lifelines for budget-strapped teams struggling to survive. These used parts keep a lot of smaller budget teams on the track, Karl said. And if you're diligent and know what to look for, they could give your custom or hot rod a unique touch. The post How to Buy Used NASCAR Race-Car Parts Cheap appeared first on MotorTrend .