Checking your belts regularly...
Checking your belts regularly for nicks or fraying frequently is a good idea, a cut as small as 1/8-inch can nearly halve the strength of even the best belts.
7. Nick Free
A nick or cut in a set of 3-inch-wide seatbelts that is as small as 1/8-inch reduces the integrity of the belt by 40 percent or more. That's a drastic decrease in the strength of a major safety component, so regularly check your belts to make sure they are free of nicks, cuts or fraying sections. Especially make note to check around the buckles and adjusters--basically anywhere the webbing touches steel. As a general rule, any time you have been in a wreck hard enough to require a wrecker to tow your car back to the pits, you should replace your belts because they've probably been stretched. And just like a nicked belt, a belt that has been stretched has lost a significant portion of its strength. There you go--two great pieces of advice even though we only counted it as one. Just making sure you get your money's worth this issue.
A driveshaft safety hoop can...
A driveshaft safety hoop can keep a steel driveshaft from becoming a deadly weapon if the universal joint breaks and separates the driveshaft from the transmission.
8. Through the Hoop
If, for some reason, your rule book doesn't require you to have a driveshaft safety hoop, go the extra mile and install one anyway. A broken U-joint means that harmless looking driveshaft instantly turns into a giant flailing piece of steel that's still spinning at several thousand rpm. A steel driveshaft that has broken loose can cut through sheetmetal like butter, so what do you think it will do to flesh and bone? They've also been known to stab into the track surface and turn the car into some insane pole-vaulting machine. A simple driveshaft hoop can help eliminate all of this.
Gray or otherwise light colored...
Gray or otherwise light colored paint makes it easier to spot cracks forming in welds on your chassis.
9. Paint it Gray
This one is pretty old-school but it will make your life easier. Over time, cracks will eventually form in the welds at the most stressed points in your chassis. And you'd better believe those cracks need to be spotted and repaired before they lead to serious failures in your chassis. But it's awfully hard to spot cracks in the welds on a chassis that is painted a dark color or never properly cleaned. The reason that all those old stock cars you see are painted dove gray is because cracked welds show up nice and easy against it. Generally, lighter colors work better than darker colors, but no crack is going to be visible if it's hidden behind a layer of grease and crud. So, paint it light and keep it clean.
10. To See or Not to See
This one may be a little too zen, but it's hard logic to argue with: The best way not to get hurt in an accident is to not get into an accident. Obvious, yes? Good vision usually equals better driving, so make an effort to make sure you can see well enough from the cockpit. If your visor is all scratched up and foggy, replace it. Also make sure you have plenty of tear-offs installed every time you go out on the track. If you race asphalt, you may also want to consider painting a "visor" on your windshield. At certain tracks at certain times of year, the setting sun can make it very difficult to see. Painting the top 1/3 of your windshield black will help alleviate this problem. You aren't looking up into the stands anyway; just make sure you leave plenty to allow yourself a good view of the track.
11. Clean and Fresh
Keeping your firesuit clean is about more than not smelling funky in the pits, it can actually make you safer. Your firesuit is flame-retardant, but any grease or oils you get on it aren't. Any foreign contaminants that have somehow found their way onto your expensive suit need to be properly removed in order for the suit to perform as well as it can. Different manufacturers have different recommendations for cleaning their firesuits, so consult with them to determine the best method for keeping your racing duds fresh and clean. Since most quality racing suits use materials that are inherently flame-retardant, washing them properly won't damage their ability to protect you. You may need to hand wash it or even cough up the dough for a trip to the dry cleaners, either way always follow the manufacturer's cleaning suggestions. There are also cleaners available from safety companies that are designed to get the oils out of firesuits without fading the fabrics.
A fuel cell isn’t invincible....
A fuel cell isn’t invincible. Protect it within a well constructed steel cage to keep it from getting crushed in the event of an accident.
12. Caged Up
A quality fuel cell is a great safety device to help reduce the risk of leaking fuel and fires. But the fuel cell isn't impregnable and should also be properly protected. Don't just strap in the fuel cell with the only priority to make sure it doesn't simply fall out. The fuel cell should be surrounded by a cage of 1-inch square tubing. The tubing should run around the perimeter across at least the front and back sides and across the bottom. This will protect the cell in the event you run over debris or get hit from the rear. A cage like this will also help provide good rigidity to keep the cell from getting crushed if you back into a wall. See Circle Track's Oct. '11 issue for a step by step guide to protecting your fuel cell.
13. Speak Clearly
Communication isn't just the key to a good marriage, it can also help your racing program and keep you safer. If they're allowed by the rules, invest in a quality radio system and appoint a spotter at the racetrack. Having a good spotter on your team isn't just to provide a competitive advantage. His or her primary responsibility isn't to watch you but to keep an eye on events ahead. If trouble happens the spotter can warn you in time so you won't get caught up in a wreck that's not of your making. And if being able to communicate via radio with your spotter can help you achieve better finishes, then that's just a bonus, right?