Jennerstown Street Stock driver...
Jennerstown Street Stock driver Greg Kent is planning to move his switch from its current location to the center of the dash. Why? If the car is against the wall, emergency personnel can reach it from either side. Good idea.
The main battery cable in a passenger car is hot all the time. Street Stocks usually employ a remote "Ford" solenoid to handle the starting duties. The purpose of the remote solenoid is to relocate the moving solenoid parts (usually on the starter) away from the heat source (usually the exhaust pipe or header). A secondary benefit of using a remote solenoid comes from having the wire running from the solenoid to the starter dead until the solenoid is engaged.
Hardware store terminals can be inconsistent and unreliable on a race car. Consider sourcing high-quality terminals from a dedicated wiring specialty house, such as Del City. The best terminals are made from tin-plated copper and are noticeably heavier than those found at the hardware store.
Reliability can be increased by using ring terminals, as opposed to spade-type terminals that can fall off if a screw comes loose. Terminals should be crimped with the male portion of the anvil on the solid side of the terminal. The concave portion of the crimping tool should apply force to the split side of the terminal and curl it around. This seemingly simple orientation can mean the difference between a solid crimp and one that will leave you stranded on the backstretch. Pliers, such as Channel Lock 909's, are very effective and do a much better job than the pair that came in that $3.99 wiring kit you got a few years ago for your birthday. After crimping the terminals, you can reinforce them with solder and a piece of heat shrink. The solder adds another layer of strength while the heat shrink seals the joint and provides strain relief.
Ring terminal, spade, and...
Ring terminal, spade, and 909's.
If you run on a dirt track or ever use a pressure washer to clean your race car, then you should consider Weatherpak terminals. The connectors lock positively and feature a silicone seal to keep out water and dirt, essentially providing a pressure-washer-proof wiring system. Deutsch connectors are slightly less common, but also a great option to achieve the same result. Both are available through a variety of sources. Some of these retailers, such as Batts Racing, which is run by motorcycle racer Paul Batts, also provide great technical advice on wiring.
Keep in mind that both Weatherpak and Deutsch styles require special crimping tools, but the benefits far outweigh the cost of a one-time tool purchase. Besides, when you have the tools, you can be the wiring hero of all your Street Stock friends.
Typical Weatherpak system...
Typical Weatherpak system.
Hardware store wire is OK if you know what you're looking for. Choose wire labeled "cross-linked polyethylene" or wire marked with the SXL or TXL designation. Steer clear of unmarked wire-it may be good, but then again, it may be of inferior quality. Saving a buck or two isn't worth it, considering how much effort and money you spend on the rest of the car.
Pay attention to wire color to facilitate troubleshooting when the time comes. Some common combinations include red for power (which is hot all the time), white for switched power, and black or green for ground wires. Yellow is usually used for power to gauge lights. Companies such as Quick Car and Painless Performance sell premium copper wire, which has fine strands (for flexibility) and tough jacketing to resist abrasion, erosion from gasoline, and melting from heat exposure.
The best source I've found for switches and gauge panels is the dedicated panel-making companies such as Quick Car and Rebco. They are making panels with cool graphics, high-quality components, and useful features. These panels can also save you time when building and maintaining your car. After all, why bother with buying everything individually?