By keeping adequate pressure in the system, the boiling point will be high enough that this overheating situation can be prevented. The higher the pressure the higher the boiling point. For instance, at sea level with a 30-pound cap the boiling point would be around 265 degrees. With a pressurized system and an adjustable pressure relief valve instead of a radiator cap, the system will go higher than 30 psi. The other components in this system are an accumulator and a tool to set the pressure in the system. The accumulator is a can, similar to a header tank, which the air bleeds into from the cooling system. This can also has a controlled air space that acts as an air spring. This air spring will compress under temperature expansion and keep water from going out the overflow. It keeps the pressure in the system and is the place where the system pressure is set.

With a pressurized system the engine can actually operate at higher temperatures safely. On a circle track car more tape can be applied to the grille opening making it more aerodynamic. There is a bigger safety margin for error such as clogging the radiator or running to lean on fuel mix. You can run leaner for power and not be in the danger zone of overheating. As an example, most F-1 teams will run cooling system pressures as high as 50 psi and will race all day with temps at 265 degrees.

3. The water pump pushes coolant through the cylinder heads and engine. The water pulls heated combustion process.

4. The water neck connects the radiator hose and intake manifold where the coolant is directed into the cylinder heads.

5. High quality radiator hoses are very important in the harsh environment of racing. Be sure to use hoses tough enough for racing or stong enough for a pressurized system.

6. Accurate gauges are essential in a race car. Monitoring your engine’s vitals is very important for ensuring parts don’t get torn up.

7. Radiators can take a beating, especially in dirt racing. Be sure to regularly check your radiator for clogs in the core, bend fins, or other damage that could reduce the radiators cooling capabilities. This could result in overheating and damage to the engine you’ve worked so hard to pay for.


Distilled water, done. Antifreeze is good for corrosion protection and keeping the system from freezing in the winter, but that's about it. Plus, if you dump antifreeze on your track, you may be asked to go home and think about what you did for a while before you are allowed to race again.

Tap water or hose water is full of minerals that can very corrosive. It can literally fill your brand-new radiator with rust and gunk from the engine. It can kill a water pump, and rust in the coolant system makes its very inefficient.

When it comes to coolants and cooling properties, C&R Racing tells us nothing is better than straight water. It pulls the most heat from the engine and sheds heat in the radiator more efficiently than anything else.

There are countless additives on the market that claim to drop coolant temperatures, but according to C&R, none of them will have much of a positive effect on water temp. Now that's not to say you shouldn't run an additive. Like any other system, your cooling system needs to be lubricated. A good cooling system additive like Driven Racing Oil's Coolant System Protector does a great job of lubricating the water pump and making sure the mineral properties of water do not cause corrosion in the engine, cylinder heads, or radiator.

8. The best coolant for race cars is straight distilled water. Tap water has minerals that make it very corrosive. Distilled water will prevent corrosion, which can seriously diminish the efficiency of a cooling system. Additives like Driven Racing Oil’s Cooling System Protector do a great job of lubricating the system and preventing rust.


The design of the airbox is a very important thing. The shape of the airbox and the front opening controls the air that moves through the radiator. In a Super Late Model that may run at higher speed, you may not need as large of a front opening as a slower car like a Street Stock that isn't going to gain from the aero advantage of a smaller opening.

The airbox is there to direct the incoming air into the radiator, but it also acts as an expansion chamber for the incoming air to slow down before going through the radiator. The high velocity air comes in the front opening and slows down as the airbox becomes larger. The benefit here is slower moving air will remove more heat from the radiator as it spends more time passing through the core. If the air moves too quickly through the radiator, it won't pull enough heat out of the coolant passing through it. This can result in high engine temps.


Cooling your race car is extremely important, and there are different ways to do it. Going through your coolant system (at least checking the radiator for a clogged core) should a part of your regular maintenance routine. The coolant should also be changed and the system flushed on a regular basis to ensure the system is in perfect working order. If you run a pressurized coolant system, it is key to set the pressure before each race, and be sure there is no air in the system. With a properly operating cooling system, you'll stay cool on track lap after lap!

9. If you run longer races and need more downforce, a pressurized cooling system may be the best thing for you. The pressurized cooling systems keep the water in contact with hottest parts of the engine. Because the system is air-free and under pressure, there are no steam pockets that form hot spots allowing you to run longer and hotter.

10 A-B. Protecting your radiator from debris is extremely important, especially in a dirt car. Many companies offer protective screens that flow enough air to cool the fluid in the radiator and also keep the dirt out of the core.

Allstar Performance
8300 Lane Drive
AFCO Racing Products
P.O. Box 548
IN  47601
C&R Racing
6950 Guion Rd
Day Motor Sports
6100 Hwy. 69 N.
TX  75706
Driven Racing Oil
Al Kul Performance Radiators
1601 East 4th Street
WI  54449
Speedway Motors
340 Victory Lane
ME  68528