From the lowest class of stock car racing all the way up to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, wiring is an important aspect of getting your race car to Victory Lane. One bad connection or exposed wire can ruin your chances of finishing the race. Circle Track spoke to numerous experts who deal with wiring systems in race cars to come up with some hot tips on how to install and maintain your race car's wiring system.
Many of our experts manufacture and install wiring systems for the upper levels of auto racing, such as the Winston Cup Series. Though their products may be at the higher end of the racing spectrum, their tips on proper wiring cover all classes of racing.
In regards to weatherproofing and fire prevention, Dennis Overholser of Painless Performance supplied us with a great many tips, while Wade Brown of Brown & Miller Racing Solutions gave us some pointers on connectors, terminals and switches. Last, but not least, David Hatfield of Hatfield Ignition let us in on some of his tips for batteries, battery cables and ignition wires.
Dennis Overholser is co-founder and vice president of new product development and technical services of Painless Performance in Fort Worth, Texas. He has been in the automotive/racing industry since the mid to late '60s and acquired his electronics training in both the military and at DeVry. Painless Performance supplies parts for all aspects of circle track racing.
To avoid overheating it is...
To avoid overheating it is essential you use fuses or circuit breakers on all electrical circuits.
For the Saturday-night racer, weatherproofing is essential due to washing the mud and dirt off and out of the race car after the races.
1. Electrical connections can easily be protected with heat-shrinkable connectors, which in some cases have glue inside the terminal that when heated to shrink will also form a watertight seal. These are standard crimp connectors that shrink and seal with the use of a heat gun or small flame.
2. If a fuse center is in need of protection, a simple plastic bag held in place with a rubber band will provide reasonable protection against water and dirt.
3. Inline fuses can also be protected with waterproof fuse holders. An electrical fire is usually caused by equipment failure or wiring that has shorted to ground. There are several simple things that can be done to help prevent an accident.
4. Keep wires away from moving objects, such as brake and clutch pedals.
5. Use fuses or circuit breakers on all electrical circuits to avoid excess overheating. It is better to burn a fuse than the car.
6. Use only high-temp wire, and keep it away from exhaust manifolds and headers.
7. Ensure the battery is properly secured.
Terminals come in all shapes...
Terminals come in all shapes and sizes. Choosing the correct terminal for your car's wiring system, along with a proper crimp, will ensure a reliable connection and, in most cases, a night free of electrical problems.
8. Route wires through rubber grommets in bulkheads.
9. Install ground straps between the engine and the body and frame. Don't allow your throttle cable to become a body ground.
10. Always route wires on the rollcage and body where they are visible to the driver. Never route wires between the cage and the body where they may be pinched in a collision.
Vibration is one thing that can destroy an electrical system in no time. Electrical connections left hanging loose will soon come apart. Using the glue-type terminals and attaching the wiring to the rollbar or body with simple plastic wire ties will aid in the connection not coming apart. Loose wires will also chafe and short if left to vibrate against rough edges.
Wade Brown and David J. Lee of Brown & Miller Racing Solutions in Concord, N.C. supply wiring systems to Evernham Motorsports, along with other Winston Cup, Busch Grand National and Craftsman Truck Series teams. The wiring division of Brown & Miller Racing Solutions was established in 1999. BMRS personnel possess a combined 32 years of production and high-performance automobile wiring experience and an additional 12 years of electronic engineering experience. BMRS specializes mainly in custom-engineered and -built stock car harnesses using only the latest in assembly equipment.