Upgrade Questionnaire
1. Is this item going to save me valuable____
time, so that I can accomplish more onYesNo
the car during race season?  
2. Is this item going to save me money,____
so that I can invest more into my car?YesNo
3. Is there income potential with this item,____
with the ability to produce additional fundsYesNo
that can be invested into my race program?  

Your shop or garage says a lot about you and your race team. Let's face it, we have all walked into someone's shop and thought, Wow! How does anyone accomplish anything inside this garage? These shops might as well be hanging a sign from the door stating, Abandon hope all ye who enter here. Trust me, no one wants to have this type of shop.

Use your time and money wisely this winter and invest in your car or shop. If you choose the latter, you must make certain the items you purchase are those that will accomplish at least one of three very important aspects. Namely, each piece of equipment should either save time, save money, or make money.

So address three important questions when considering shop upgrades:

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you can justify the cost of the equipment because there is a direct benefit in purchasing it.

Now, just because the answer is yes doesn't mean you need to go out and purchase this item. You should spend some time examining your budget and determining if it's a wise investment for you and your race team. For instance, if you've determined that you can spend around $4,000 during the off-season, then you might not want to purchase a plasma cutter because it will use at least a quarter of that budget. The wiser investment might be an air compressor, or a toolbox. Be certain that you are making wise purchases so you still have money to race on next summer.

I have compiled a list of five shop upgrades that deliver a "yes" to these questions. Some of these might not apply for your type of race vehicle. For instance, a sheetmetal brake likely wouldn't be a wise investment if the body of your car is fiberglass. But if you know a lot of teams that need to use one and you can produce some income by having this piece of equipment, then it might be a wise investment after all.

1. Toolbox As obvious as this sounds, if your garage or shop is constantly a place of chaos with tools scattered on the floor, then a new toolbox will serve you greatly. Simply being organized will save you time. By taking $400-$500 and investing in a good, solid toolbox, you can eliminate the time usually spent hunting down the tools that are commonly lost (provided you put your tools away, that is).

I suggest purchasing a toolbox with rollers because this could act as your racetrack toolbox as well. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a toolbox that might cost a little more but come stocked with basic tools like wrenches and sockets.

2. Plasma Cutter This item is a lot simpler to understand than the name implies. Plasma cutters have been around since World War II and have become very common in most of the elaborate Cup shops. A plasma cutter looks similar to a MIG welder but, as the name implies, it's a cutter. It's much more efficient and faster than a regular cutting torch, which uses a gas, like argon, and simply burns the argon to heat and cut the metal. A plasma cutter works by using argon, nitrogen, or oxygen that is forced through a small channel. In the center of the channel, a negatively charged electrode receives power and is touched to the metal, actually creating a powerful spark that can reach temperatures upwards of 30,000 F. This will reduce metal to slag.