My son's team competes in something called college Formula SAE, where each college team builds a race car from scratch (using a motorcycle powertrain) and competes with 60-100 other college teams.
Formula SAE teams machine most parts from scratch (each year they must compete a new car) and as college students they have much more time than money. If you donated funds to one of the teams you may be able to watch them and maybe work right along with them.
I know UC Urvine has a team, and at the 2011 competition in Fontana I saw many other California teams. This is a link to the FSAE site FSAE.com