While racing on dirt has good and bad points, which can be said of any race car on any surface, there are some unique drawbacks. Keeping the car clean is a big problem. While any race car gets dirty and each type of car has its own form of grime, cars that race on dirt or clay racetracks have some problems that are unique to this type of racing.
Just how bad can it be? Every time you see a dirt car on television or in a magazine it may look dusty and have some traces of mud on the surface, but it just does not look that dirty. The pictures in magazines often show a car in the winner's circle, and there may be traces of dirt and grime around the wheels and on parts of the body, but the car just does not look that bad-at least nothing a couple of dollars at the local car wash couldn't cure. You don't see the car after hot laps or the cars that were not good enough to run at the front all night. In reality, the problem goes a bit deeper for all of the cars.
A conservative guess would be about 150 pounds of extra nose weight from all of this mud p
Part of the process involved in getting a dirt track ready to race is packing the track or "wheel packing," as it is so affectionately referred to by race promoters and race directors. Racers seem to have more colorful terms to describe the process. It is during the process of running around the track at just above idle speed and "packing the track in" that it is not uncommon for the car to get many layers of mud several inches thick on every stationary surface. At this point, the track is not ready for racing, and the surface more closely resembles a thick mud puddle.
Depending on the level of preparation and the amount of water that has been applied to the track, the surface can range from a light coating of water over a hard packed surface of moist dirt to inches of soft and semi-liquid dirt, commonly referred to as mud.
From top to bottom, there is nary a place on the car that does not get covered with wet, tacky, gooey mud. During wheel packing, it is easy to mistake the cars circulating the track at slow speeds for moving bumps. It is very possible, depending on the type of race car, for it to pick up many pounds of dirt after wheel packing.
Applying one of several available coatings to the body will help keep the mud and dirt fro
As a racer, you have very little time between the end of the wheel-packing session and when you have to start the qualifying process and/or heat races. You need to get the mud off the car for a variety of reasons. First, the sheer weight of the mud is going to affect the performance of the vehicle. How many racers do you know who would want to carry around an extra 50 pounds of ballast? Darn few! But that is only one of multiple issues surrounding the reason for the removal of the mud from the car.
We need to remember that this is still a race car. As such, we will be tuning or adjusting the car over the course of the night. We need to be able to get to the adjustments without chipping away at clumps of mud. Logic dictates that the greater amount of dirt seen on the outside of the car indicates more dirt has gotten into hidden areas you want to remain clean.
When you use the Mudd Off product, it looks like you are giving the car a milk bath. Appli
Another point to mention is that your sponsor is paying good money for the fans to be able to see its name and/or logo on the car. Let us not forget the people scoring the race. If the numbers are covered with mud, it is very possible you will not be scored. So we can approach this from several fronts: performance, mechanics, the sponsor's perspective, and scoring.
So what is the answer? How do we keep the car clean? The real issue is not only how to keep the car clean, but also, how can we quickly clean the car between heats? Anyone who has ever had to deal with mud knows it can be very difficult to remove. So the next question is, how do we make the car easier to clean? This is a question that is easier to answer than one would think.
Racers tend to be very clever people. There are a number of methods and products that make cleaning your dirt car easier. They range from products designed especially to prevent mud from sticking to the car to ones that, at the very least, make it easier to get the mud off the car. If you take a walk around the pits at the local track prior to the start of the first wheel-packing session, you will find racers spraying or wiping a variety of products on their cars in an effort to keep mud from sticking to their cars.
Baby oil is about as complex as a rock and almost as cheap. All it takes is a rag and some
These products range from water-based waxes, to vegetable oils, to baby oil, to very light petroleum-based oils. The intention is to make the surfaces slick and slippery so the mud falls off easily. In actuality, the mud may still stick, but it will be easier to wash or wipe off. Does it work? To some extent, yes, but there are limits. Does the mud just fall off? Not necessarily all the time, but it is easier to wipe off.
Some Products That Will Help:Mudd Off A commercial product that was designed for this exact purpose. It comes in a concentrated form, and you mix it with water at a ratio of 10 to 1. Spray it on the car prior to wheel packing or racing.
The popular method is to mix Mudd Off in a small garden bug sprayer and soak your car with the mixture. When applied, it looks like milk running off the car. Shades of an Indy victory and a celebratory milk shower! Mudd Off can be purchased at most racing retailers and in some ATV shops.
After the body is sprayed with WD-40 or similar product, oil the rubbing points on the fro
Baby Oil Yep, it's the same stuff you put on a baby after bath time to keep its skin soft and smooth. Just squirt it straight out of the bottle onto the car and wipe it down with a soft rag. This is about as simple as it gets. No mixing, no measuring, no extra equipment required. All it takes is fair aim and several shop rags.
The stuff is pretty economical, and just about every grocery store in the country sells the stuff. You can even get an economy brand at the local Wal-Mart for about $1.99 a bottle, or you can get the deluxe product with the special fragrance and extra skin softeners for $2.79, making the car smell real nice to boot.
WD-40 Oil in a spray can. While this is not the only product of this type, there are other brands of light lubricating oil packaged in aerosol cans. This type of product is handy and has multiple uses. An added bonus is that this type of product actually repels water in addition to making the surface of the car slippery.
Special scrapers are available to make cleaning the frame tubes a bit easier and faster th
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?
Special scrapers are available to make cleaning the frame tubes a bit easier and faster th
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.
Mudd Off, baby oil, and special scrapers are popular tools used to help keep the car clean
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.