17. WATER PUMP Like other external components a check of the water pump can catch a potential problem long before you get to the track. Ask yourself if you were running at ideal engine temps all season. If not you know you have to start digging into the cooling system. If you were, don't take that pump (or any other part of the cooling system) for granted. Check the pump for play in the shaft, inlet and outlet seals, and hairline cracks, especially near the bolts.

18. TIGHTEN UP Check all of the bolts that you can get to externally. In fact, check them twice. If they need to be torqued to a certain spec, re-torque them. You cann't recheck a bolt's tightness too many times.

19. A $30 FAN CAN RUIN YOUR DAY For the local racer I recommend replacing your fan each year. If you race at the national or even regional level, you should replace the fan 2-3 times each season. If those blades sling off, it can be bad. I had a customer who had a fan blade sling off. When it did, it pulled the water pump off the front of the motor. The force literally yanked the water pump housing in half. In another case, the fan blade came off and hit the rack. That one literally tore the rack and pinion in half.

20. HEADER CHECK! You should check your headers for cracks, especially if they are mild steel which are prone to cracking. Look at tabs and where the pipes are connected to the flanges. If you're running Tri-Y headers make sure that they are correct and matched to the firing order of your engine.

21. CHANGE All The Fluids Finally, when the motor as been gone through and you're satisfied that you're ready to go, change all the fluids, and make sure they are at the proper level. Start off fresh and plan for a winning season.

About Jay Dickens
Jay Dickens was interested in cars from an early age, and actually built his first engine at the age of 12. During his high school years, Jay worked for the late Bobby Brown, helping to build racing engines for the likes of Bobby Allision and Grand Adcox. A few years later, Jay started working on engines in his garage at home on a part time basis. In 1991, his part-time business was on the grow and he built his first building dedicated to engine building. Finally, in 1994 Jay decided to quit his day job and officially went in to business with Jay Dickens Racing Engines in March 1994.

Based in the Northeast Mississippi town of Aberdeen, Jay Dickens Racing Engines (JDRE) has grown from a small company with a few customers into a large scale business with customers nationwide. Along the way, JDRE customers have picked up track championships, series championships, and countless wins. The JDRE customer base ranges from Dirt Late Model competitors to Drag Racers to competitors in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing.

Check your headers for cracks, especially if they are mild steel which is prone to cracking. If yours are like these on the left, then you need to make them look like those on the right. Rob Fisher

Jay Dickens Racing Engines