Maintenance for race cars is an ongoing regime. Recording the amount of use of the various components helps us know when to address the lubrication, preventive maintenance, and replacement of parts before they become failures and cost us a race win or worse.

We have put together a list of what we consider the most important items for maintenance. We not only include the car, but driver safety and equipment around the shop as well. Once we understand the various areas of maintenance, we can develop a better mindset for making the season more successful.

The following list is intended to instill the notion that no mechanical device can go indefinitely without proper maintenance and/or replacement. Our race cars are subjected to extreme conditions and all of the moving parts will eventually wear out or fail if we don't make frequent checks and repair or replace parts. We should do this throughout the season, but if you've been lax, then now is a good time to catch up and make things right.

1.Safety Items - Because safety is so important, we have put this item at the front of our list. Safety should always be priority number one in any racing endeavor. We can't have fun if someone gets hurt.

We need to look over the seatbelts and seats on a regular basis. Stress from hard racing might have done damage to your seatbelt system. Completely remove all belts, the seat, the window net and all rollbar padding. Install new padding later.

There should be no fraying or tears to the material. The mounts must be stress-free and not bent from the original location. The seat should be crack-free and if not, sent back to the manufacturer for repair or replacement. Check the dates on the belts, too, to be sure they haven't expired. Each track and/or sanctioning body has rules governing how dated your belts can be.

Inspect your head and neck restraint system (you are using an H&N system aren't you?) and your helmet. We know of one case where a hard hit damaged a helmet at the front from the head moving forward so hard that it dented and cracked the material inside the helmet. Luckily, the HANS device the driver was wearing stopped his head from moving forward to prevent any serious spinal cord injury, but the helmet was junk afterwards. Having done its job, it was time to repair or retire it.

Fuel cells are a definite safety item. At least once a year, remove the fuel cell and inspect the container for rust or damage that might compromise the cell itself. The fill-tube assembly should be removed from the cell as well as the foam. Clean the inside of the cell and get all of the dirt or other foreign material out.

The foam should be replaced. The fuel pickup should be inspected and cleaned. If you have a fuel pump that pushes fuel to the engine, as some cars do, inspect the wiring and general condition of the pump.

Fuel cells have a certain life span. Some newer fuels have been known to eat away at the seams under certain conditions. Inspect your cell to make sure this is not a problem or serious leaking can occur.

Don't forget to recheck that fire suppression system to see if it's fully charged and will work properly when needed. The fire bottle is rarely needed, but when it is, if it doesn't do its job, things can get ugly in a hurry.

2. Suspension and Steering - We need to remove all of the control arms, steering assembly, spindles, and so on, if we haven't done that before cleaning the chassis. Lay the parts out on the garage floor and carefully inspect each one for any signs of cracking, bending or breaks at the welded seams.

Remove all of the Heim joints, ball joints, idler arm assemblies (on a drag link system), and test for excess looseness and wear. Replace all of the worn joints. Check the steering box or rack for excess play and worn seals. It might be a good time to overhaul the steering rack or box, or send it back to the manufacturer for a rebuild.