A good portion of the advertisers in the pages of Circle Track are retailers of racing products that have both large-scale stores and mail-order/web based businesses. These companies supply a significant amount of the parts that we as racers use on a weekly basis. As the editorial braintrust of this magazine sat around the lunch table, we came up with the idea that it might be fun to pick an arbitrary dollar amount and then call up one of these retailers and see how they would spend it.
Given the fact that this is the January issue of Circle Track which contains our Oval Track Parts Guide, the idea evolved into a $1,000 shopping spree that would include one segment largely dedicated to tools that you should have in your race car trailer, while the other takes the form of a list of upgrades. One phone call to our friends at Day Motorsports in Tyler, Texas, and with its help we put together a can't-miss list of items that better be in your toolbox if you want to get to Victory Lane.
While some of these items might seem basic or elementary, never under estimate the value of having the proper tool to make a job easier, especially when that job has to be done in a dimly lit pit area between the heats and the main.
Pro-Tek Tire Tape $5.99
Next time you're at the racetrack, survey a number of your buddies and see how many of them have a tire tape. Now we're not looking for a contractor's tape measure here. We want to see a bona fide tire tape. Our guess is you may have a hard time finding one outside the tire shed. At just under $6, a tire tape is an investment not to be missed. It's great for measuring stagger on your own tires. Don't take the tire shed's word for it, measure them yourself.
Four-Way Valve Core Tool $4.29
Not only is a four-way valve core tool a necessity for quickly dismounting tires in the middle of a busy pit area, but it's also great for repairing and replacing valve cores. Plus it recuts damaged threads.
Rim Wrench $19.99
Don't throw those bent wheels away! A rim wrench is a great tool for fixing them. It's easy to use and will straighten the outer edges of the wheel while rolling the curl back into the wheel. The tool's design has special radiuses built in that will not crease or crack the wheel as you are repairing it.
Pro-Tek Mud Scraper $14.99
When the track is wet and heavy you can easily add 10, 20, 30, or even more pounds of mud onto your race car just during hot laps. If you don't get most of that mud off before the heat race, the added weight will negatively affect your setup. Remove it easily with a mud scraper.
Pro-Tek Bead Breaker $34.99
His name shall be withheld for reasons of embarrassment but we were at a race when a crew member on another team was trying to break a bead with an ice pick (yes, we said an ice pick). Aside from the obvious damage that he caused to the tire, he could have impaled his hand, or something worse if you saw how he was holding the tire. We think he should have used the Pro-Tek Bead Breaker. The boys at Day say that, "no race car trailer should be without one," and we agree with them.
Pro-Tek Quick Change Lug Wrench $29.99
Other than Mr. Ice Pick, we all know that you should always double check your lug nuts before you head out onto the track. Pro-Tek's quick change lug wrench which is designed to fit 1-inch diameter lugs is perfect for that job.
Cordless Impact $249.99
This is one of the bigger ticket items on our list and takes up a full 25 percent of our $1,000 budget. However, the entire Circle Track Project DLM team will attest to the fact that with no cords, no hassle, and great performance, this cordless impact wrench is a must have for your racing program. We have one of our own, and you can too.
Pro-Tek Tire Spoon $9.99
No, not that kind of spoon. A tire spoon makes dismounting tires easy and quick. Plus it beats the old screwdriver, or an ice pick!
Toe Plates $54.99
Loyal Circle Track readers know that chassis guru Bob Bolles preaches the importance of knowing your toe-in. Toe plates make finding it out quick and easy.
Tire Chalk $2.99
Silver sharpies might be cool for signing autographs in the pits, but tire chalk is really the ideal choice for marking tires after they've been mounted.
Pro-Tek Tire Siper $79.99
Another bigger ticket item that is a must-have for any dirt racer is a tire siper. Check out the Oct. '08 issue of Circle Track for an in depth story of the importance of tire preparation.
Grooving Iron $59.99
This 250 watt Pistol Grip Grooving iron goes hand in hand with the Tire Siper. It comes complete with the head and package of No. 4 blades. That Oct. '08 story will also tell you the difference between grooving and siping and when each should be used.
Standard Tire Air Gauge $22.99
Who can race without one? Not us, and neither should you. At $23 it's a bargain and will tell any short tracker exactly what he needs to know when checking tire pressures. No need for expensive NASCAR units at our level.
Fuel Funnel $12.99
With the cost of race fuel today, don't risk spilling even a drop. Day's fuel funnels are perfect and economical.
Pro-Tek Utility Jug $19.99
And when you need to store that fuel, or any other fluid for that matter, turn to this month's cover jugs . . . they're great for storage of liquids.
Pro-Tek Siphon Pump $14.99
Sticking with the fuel and fluid theme, don't forget the Pro-Tek Siphon Pump. Unless you can pick up a drum and pour it into one of those utility jugs, this pump may be handy.
Caster Camber Gauge W/ Adapter $129.99
Bolles will also tell you that a good quality caster camber gauge is a vital tool for setting up your car. The one offered by Day is accurate to 1/4-degree, and includes a magnetic adapter and storage case.
Self Powered Timing Light $49.99
Every racer, regardless of his level, should have a timing light. A self powered one is quick, simple, and makes setting your timing a snap.
Rivet Gun $59.99
A rivet gun is a necessity in the shop as well as the track regardless of what you race. Especially if you race dirt where replacing body panels can be a monthly or weekly activity.
Hand Riveter $9.99
Don't want to spend the $60 on that rivet gun? Day's $10 hand riveter will fit the bill and is great for quick and easy repairs at the track where you might not have an air compressor.
Pro-Tek Engine Lift Plate $13.99
Here's another quote from the boys at Day regarding their engine lift plate, "You would not enjoy changing your engine without one." Nuff said.
Pro-Tek Dead Blow Hammer $9.99
"Come on, every man can use a hammer!" Nuff said, part 2.
Oil Filter Cutter $49.99
The Oct. '07 issue of Circle Track had a story in it called "Read Your Filter, Save Your Engine" that talked of the importance of checking your oil for debris that could be an indicator of a failing motor. Dig out that issue, then buy this $50 oil filter cutter. We guarantee it will be way easier and cheaper than fixing a blown motor.
Remote Starter Button $19.99
A remote starter button makes setting the valves a one man job, plus it looks really cool.
Valve Lash Wrench $21.99
Speaking of setting valves, a valve lash wrench will make adjusting the lash a snap.
Sure you could use the second hand on your watch, but for less than $30 do you really want to?
Day MotorSports T-Shirt $12.99
Now you don't really think that Dan, Wayne, and the rest of the Day Motorsports gang would let us get away with putting this list together without including a Day Motorsports T-shirt did you? Yeah, neither did we.
Well, there you have our basic list. We spent a grand total of $1,046.03 and if you don't do any of your own engine work you could cross off the Remote Starter Button and Valve Lash Wrench and be right at one grand.
Now to the fun part. We asked Dan and the guys to throw a few bones our way and let us know some key tools and equipment the racer might need if he had some spare cash the wife doesn't know about. So here goes.
Accuset scales with 12-inch pads $938.99
No, these aren't cheap, but a good set of scales are an absolute must if you want to have a front running car.
Accuset scales with 15-inch pads $1,039.99
If you prefer a larger pad, for $80 more you can step up to the 15, which is perfect if you run a class with wide tires like a Dirt Late Model.
Pro-Tek Foldable Engine Stand $39.99
A foldable engine stand is not only ideal for storing engines in the trailer and/or shop, but since you can fold it down, it stores easily when not in use.
Dual Function Pyrometer $199.99
One of the things Project DLM team did on the evening of its first win was take tire temperatures. A Dual Function Pyrometer is great for monitoring tire, brake, and exhaust temperatures.
Durometer & Tire Tread Depth Gauge Set $77.99
We wish more racers would go out and buy a good quality durometer/tire depth gauge. They're invaluable for getting the best use out of your tires.
Spark Plug Flashlight $38.99
How many well-lit short track pit areas have you been to? We know it's a half-mile but Bristol Motor Speedway doesn't count. This nifty little tool makes reading plugs easy in dark pits easy.
Van Alstine Tire Groover $389.99
Personal testimony from the Project DLM team will tell you that the Van Alstine Tire Groover makes quick work of grooving two or even three sets of tires for an evening of racing.
Van Alstine Heated Siper $189.99
This HOT (pun intended) new product has taken tire siping to a new level. The heated blades make siping a tire as easy as slicing warm butter.
Well, there you have it folks. Including the upgrades we've still only spent $2,915.92. That's a pretty healthy list for being under $3,000. Don't ya think? CT