Many teams use products like WD-40 on the headers to lessen the amount of mud that bakes onto the surface and makes cleaning almost an impossibility. WD-40 can be purchased in 1-gallon cans and then transferred into special pump squirt bottles. It is available at Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, NAPA, Auto Zone, Home Depot, Lowe's, Menards, or almost any place that sells automotive and/or home improvement products or hardware.

PAM That's right-the stuff you spray on pans to keep food from sticking and make cleanup easier. Hey, that's just what we need. It comes in an aerosol can and is just your basic point-and-shoot product. As an added bonus, it is all-natural and just what we need for fat-free cooking. It costs about $3 per can and is available at any grocery store in the country.

Many of the larger chain stores, such as Kroger, have a house brand of the product, and there are generic brands of non-stick cooking sprays that are even more economical. As an added bonus, this type of product is completely biodegradable. Who says racers aren't green?

That gives you an overview of the types of products available to help keep the car clean. But the big question is, which one works the best? We spent a good bit of time talking to racers to get their input regarding how these products work and which ones they prefer. There was a variety of responses.

The one thing we found interesting was that regardless of which product they sprayed on the car, the majority of the racers used a WD-40 type of product on the exposed rod-ends, mechanical joints, and suspension points.

No matter what mud-release agent they used, there was still effort involved in removing the mud from the cars after wheel packing. The mud did not just fall off the car; that would be nice, but it did not happen. There was still a major effort by a multitude of people to clean the mud off and prepare for the next portion of racing that evening.

The tools used to scrape the mud off were no less innovative. Special spatulas were cut with a radius that matched the tube diameter that makes up the chassis. Lots of plastic putty knives and wide plastic scrapers were used to speed the mud removal process and still not damage the finish on the body panels.

No single process seemed to work better than the other or have any advantage over the other. Each racer had a favored process and did not seem willing to change what worked for him. Some car owners used nothing to keep the mud off the car, and they seemed to pay the price in more time required to clean the car after wheel packing and between heat races.

Applying some form of release agent to the car is a step that seems to add value to the racer and race team. With a bit of planning and the application of some slippery stuff to the surface of the car, keeping it clean can be a whole lot easier.