We all know that success in racing requires paying attention to the details. Too often, it's the little things that throw a monkey wrench into what would have otherwise been a successful night of racing-the kinds of things that slip your mind while you worry over other more important matters. It's like spending all day rebuilding the brakes and bleeding the lines only to forget to screw the cap on tight on the master cylinder. You can take comfort in the fact that these things happen to everybody, but you still don't want them to happen more often than you can possibly help.

One area where this is definitely true is the accessories on the front of your engine and the belts used to drive them. Everything may look just fine when the engine is idling with the hood up, but it can be a completely different story when the car is at speed. Everything in the engine compartment is vibrating like a 4-year-old on a sugar high, and small bits of rubber and other debris are flying off the track surface and getting caught between the belts and pulleys.

The key to ensuring your accessory drivebelts stay where they belong is making sure your pulleys are perfectly aligned and vibration free. You might think that they should bolt right up this way, but that is rarely true. Be prepared to spend a little time adjusting the pulleys the first time you assemble them on a new race engine, and then keep a close eye on them afterward.

If you are running stock pulleys and accessory brackets, you may be forced to resort to fabricating your own stuff. But if you are able to run race-specific pulleys and brackets, there are usually a lot more tuning options. If you are running V-belts, the pulleys don't have to be absolutely perfect because the belts seat in the deep grooves of the pulleys pretty well. But if you are running a serpentine system that uses a wide belt with several V-grooves molded in, you should try to keep the pulleys aligned within 0.015 inch. Serpentine belts are extremely strong and durable, but it's easy to throw a belt if you get one of those tiny V-grooves off track. Another secret is to keep your accessories as close to the drive pulley (usually either the crank pulley or the water pump pulley) as possible. A long bracket allows more vibration of both the bracket and the belt, and the bracket is also more likely to flex.

We got an eyeful recently when we stopped by KT Engine Development in Concord, North Carolina. Owner Ken Troutman showed us the carnage that resulted from a thrown oil pump belt: spun bearings, broken and bent connecting rods, destroyed pistons, a ruined crank, and a depleted checking account. The damage was catastrophic, but it was also completely avoidable. If you run an external oil pump, throwing that belt has to be one of your worst fears, because it means your engine will very quickly do its best impersonation of a hand grenade. Troutman says he often allows his customers to install their own accessories, but this time he's bolting the entire pulley and belt system to drive the pump to help this customer avoid this situation again. To see how KT Engines installs a bulletproof belt system, we followed along as engine builder Craig Hibdon returned the engine to competition-ready status.

Step 1: Here is our foundation. The water pump and balancer are already in place on this Chevrolet. A motor plate secures the engine to the chassis, but that doesn't affect the process.

Step 2: Engine builder Craig Hibdon is using an adjustable pulley set from CV Products to make sure the belts stay lined up within 0.015 inch. This spacer plate is used to move the crankshaft pulley out. Notice how snugly it fits around the crank bolt spacer washer.