We all know race weekends are what all of us gearheads live for. At the track is where the long work week is forgotten and throttle therapy is administered. However, in order to make sure your track day is what you have been day dreaming about all week long- here are a few tips to make sure both you and your car perform at optimal performance.
Cars, unfortunately, do break. We can’t avoid it but we still dread the thought of it happening, especially when we are expecting to enjoy the short time we get to spend at full speed with our track cars. Sometimes, our cars break because of a few small things that were overlooked and ended up turning into a huge nightmare. First thing to do before hitting the track is to make sure that all fluids are checked, topped off or changed if need be. Once the car is running, keep an eye on your fluid levels to validate that your car isn’t consuming or leaking oil. Be sure to check your brake pedal pressure and make sure the fluid appears clean and free of any dirt or debris as well. Step number two is to check your brakes. Track car brakes go through heavy amounts of stress that would make the everyday off the shelf rotor and pad cringe. Lucky for you- you have your nice race compound brake pads…right? Many off the shelf parts are simply not built to withstand the stress that a track day presents. Make sure the important parts are built for the application that you intend to use your car for.
Nut and bolting a car can not only save your weekend, it could save your own life, and other drivers or officials lives too. When the car is in the garage before the race weekend, put it up securely on four jack stands and work front to back checking all the fasteners. While this can be a timely procedure, it will not only allow you to catch any loose or missing fasteners, but it will also give you an opportunity to inspect parts of the car that you might not see every time you work on it. Many times people will find a leaky seal at the rack and pinion or even a rear motor mount that’s starting to show signs of fatigue. Maybe it’s time for that control arm bushing to get replaced. These are just a few of the many things that you could find while spending time nut and bolting a car. Trust me, once you get to the track, you’ll be happy you did and more comfortable in the driver’s seat knowing your car is ready to get the win!
The last two things to discuss about track day preparations are time management and supplies. A few weeks before your track day, make a list of things that need to be done. This should include the before mentioned fluid checks and changes, nut and bolting the car, replacing any known worn components and other general maintenance that arises upon inspection of the car. Having this schedule will keep you on track to make sure the car is ready well before your track day. It’s also important to make sure you have all of the at the track supplies ready to go to make your track day more enjoyable. While you are nut and bolting your car, keep track of the tools you are using. This way, when you pack up your tool box, you’ll have the tools you were using to work on the car in the previous weeks, and therefore everything you’ll need at the track! When purchasing new fluids, don’t be afraid to buy a little extra for at the track if an incident occurs. It can be very stressful running around the paddock looking for fluids from other racers when you only need a small amount to get you back on the track. It’s much nicer to walk to your trailer, grab that extra quart of fluid you bought and jump right back in and head back out.
These are only some of the ways you can make sure your track day is as enjoyable as you imagine. It’s important to understand that prepping a car for race weekends isn’t as simple as putting some fresh fuel in and stepping on the gas pedal. It takes a lot of time, attention to detail and proper maintenance to get the most out of all the time (and money!) you’ve already put into the car.
The race is long- to finish first, first you must finish!