So you’ve bought a new-to-you race car—now what? It would be nice to jump in and go racing, and while some people do just that, it isn’t necessarily the smartest move. Especially if you’re looking to win races, and a championship (why else would you be racing?) Last month we briefly looked at what you should pay attention to when buying a new car. Now that you have it, it’s time to rip it apart in preparation for the track.

Ripping apart a car you just bought may seem counter productive, but it really isn’t. You’re most likely going to find good things and bad things, and you should be prepared for that. You’ll also figure out fairly quickly what can be kept and what needs to be replaced. For us, it was the complete opposite of our expectations.

The disassembly process started under the decklid. The fuel cell was a big unknown for us, and it quickly turned into a nightmare. After removing the dry brake and cell hold-down, we weren’t able to pull the cell out of the car. We know the car had been sitting for quite a while, but we didn’t know for exactly how long, or if it was inside or outside. As we investigated further, we were unable to come up with any reason why the cell wouldn’t come out. Going into it, we knew we wanted to replace the cell, but after pulling it apart, the entire fuel system had to go.

The filler neck, dry brake, bladder, pick-up tube, and foam were all covered in the slime of partially solidified race fuel

When we couldn’t pull the cell out of the car, we began to take it apart in the car. The fill neck came apart first. With the cell opened up, we pulled out the foam, and finally the bladder. With the cell empty, we took a hammer to it in an attempt to loosen it from the car. Whether it was condensation or rainwater, the cell had rusted itself to the car. After some serious hammering on the cell and the car, we were finally able to break it free. The entire process took over two hours, which if we had waited till we were at the track to find this, it would have put us in big trouble.

Here’s why. Besides the removal issue, we were surprised to find some old fuel in the bladder. If you’ve never seen really old fuel, it takes on some gel-like qualities as it breaks down. The filler neck, dry brake, bladder, pick-up tube, and foam were all covered in the slime of partially solidified race fuel. While the hard parts can be cleaned and reused, the rest of it will need to be replaced, because the last thing you want is that slime clogging your fuel filter, or worse, making its way into the carb.