You should probably start with an open source 3d physics engine like Bullet. Remember that games that have funding can hire professionals that are well versed in kinematics that can draft models in math-lab and then have programmers implement them in the code.
So the best way to fully implement a systems like this would involve learning about cars and physics, I think that is beyond the scope of one question.
This might help you get started?
Car physics for games:
Open source 3d physics engine:
The Disney car 2 game uses this engine.
This is just a short video that demonstrates what you could achieve with an advanced 3d physics engine like CryEngine3
Basically, I think this question needs to be broken down to smaller questions, some of which likely belong in SE physics. It is too broad a subject to be properly covered in the current medium.
Development of such a project is incremental in nature, you have to take a step before you can walk and walk before you can run.
So I'd suggest starting with a small and rudimentary car simulator and adding features.
That way you can allow the time needed for each feature, to study it in depth.
Perhaps like you suggested if you find like minded programmers, each one can focus on a different feature once you have the skeleton of the engine running.
It is sometime possible to negotiate a deal with a company to use their existing engine to make a game in exchange for a portion of the profits or a large sum in advance.