This new RFX Wireless Billet...
This new RFX Wireless Billet Scale Systems from Intercomp Racing solves the problem of having to use wires that you trip over or that can become damaged and unuseable.
Christmas is now over, you've had a good rest from the busy season this last year and it's about time to start thinking about your needs for the coming season. What we need to do is sit back and think of the times we needed certain tools that we didn't have or observed equipment that needed to be replaced. Now is the time to develop our parts wish list.
We know we need certain equipment in order to do our job repairing or maintaining our race cars. There are other areas too that need to be considered. The transportation needs as well as convenience items come to mind, as do the safety components for both driver and crew. Let your mind encompass every aspect of the team effort.
Many teams will have a "garage sale" of sorts and sometimes the track cooperates in allowing the teams to setup at the track for a used-parts sale day prior to the season opener. If your track does not have a day scheduled, ask it to schedule one. Get a few other teams together as a group and approach the track ownership about organizing a swap meet of sorts. Or you can advertise locally and even regionally on craigslist.com or eBay.
Being able to sell your unused and unwanted parts generates money for the ones you really need while allowing teams with lower budgets or in the lower classes to have the opportunity to pick up parts they need too. Items we accumulate too many of or that might age somewhat could include shocks, wheels, springs, tires, or other things you might need to replace.
Just try not to sell parts that are bad. This will give you and your team a bad name in the racing community. I knew of a local racer who sold my friend five bad harmonic balancers that had spun out of degree accuracy. This was a common problem back in the '70s with stock parts. If your parts are damaged or bad, throw them away, don't sell them.
OK, here goes, our wish list of parts you might need.
The scale-leveling system...
The scale-leveling system by Intercomp Racing ensures accurate crossweight percentages by allowing quick and easy leveling of your scale pads. You can also use this system to find level spots in your garage floor so you can chose a setup area. You can also measure up to pickup points for height measurements when you are setting Panhard bar or chassis heights or when measuring for your moment center location.
Certain tools just make the job of building, maintaining, and repairing the race car quicker and easier.
Setup Tools and Aides
I put this one first by design because it is close to my heart. All of what comes after this is a prelude to this section. But instead of putting it last, I wanted to put it upfront so you could be thinking about this all the while.
If you don't have a set of racing scales, shame, shame. If yours are worn or battered, good for you, you've been using them. There are new models out that don't have wires to step on, trip over, or constantly have to be moved over the jack. Wireless scales are wonderful and we have used them on our project vehicles and just loved the convenience.
You must align your race car correctly and the best and easiest way to do that is with proper alignment tools such as laser systems. The time saved and the accuracy achieved all make this investment well worth it. I have heard feedback from many teams who have bought and used these systems and they are very happy they made the choice.
You should have at a minimum, caster and camber gauges, bumpsteer gauges, wheel alignment and Ackermann-checking systems, as well as tire temperature and air pressure gauges.
For the dirt guys, tread depth gauges and tire siping and cutting tools are in order. You can do most of your setup parameters in the shop where the floor is relatively level and all of the above can help you prepare the car for the various conditions you might encounter.
Air System with Compressor Installing a complete compressed air system with all of the air tools saves electricity while providing relatively cheap tools to cut, rivet, drill, ratchet, impact, and sand on your car. One larger compressor, installed outside the working area, provides all of the air needed and isolates the sound.
Drill Press We are always drilling and needing to do it straight and accurately. A good drill press on a stand works well for those tasks.
The Panhard/J-bar adjuster...
The Panhard/J-bar adjuster allows quick and minute adjustment to the height of the chassis mount of the bar. This fine tuning tool comes in handy during a race for those quick stops for a handling adjustment.
Many of our body parts are hand-made in the shop. A good metal brake can be a useful tool to bend the metal precisely. Some models double as a metal shear too.
Air Rivet Gun
Even if you have a single-line air system, this item makes installing and repairing your car much easier. If you've ever used one, you'll agree, this is one handy tool.
There are many new models of welders out there right now, so you can upgrade your system. TIG and MIG welders, as well as the plasma cutters, all provide the capability to construct the entire chassis or do periodic maintenance and repair work on the chassis and rollcage.
Here is a very useful item whereby you can cut small pieces safely and accurately and keep your blood where it belongs, inside the skin. Just watch those fingers.
Tubing Bender Many teams will construct their own rollcages, front and rear clips, and other chassis components using a tubing bender. This handy tool makes construction of anything that involves tubing a fun and artistic endeavor. It's just plain fun and exciting to watch a rollcage come together.
Radiator If we think back on the past season we might remember we had cooling problems. Now might be a good time to consider a new and improved radiator. There are many different designs to choose from that might help you run cooler and survive the heat of summer. With it being winter right now, you might miss that one.
Gauges One of the keys to engine survival is being able to see early on when trouble starts, like when the oil or water temp goes up, or the voltage is getting low. A quality set of gauges can help prevent costly repairs on the engine by letting us know about a problem early on. Review your gauge system and think about replacement.
Fuel Cell, Pump, and Carburetor Your fuel delivery system will wear out. You need to either rebuild your old carb or think about a new one. Making the choice to purchase a new one might just save you a race failure due to a float sticking or a fuel leak that results in a damaging fire. The fuel cell, especially with the newer fuels containing ethanol and such, might need to be inspected and/or replaced. Newer additives can destroy the bonding agents that hold your cell together. The fuel lines, fuel pump gaskets and diaphragms all suffer from the effects of ethanol. Do a full inspection and replace those parts that are in question.
Heads and ValveTrain You've been running a pair of heads that you know are marginal for flow, but ones that you picked up cheap at a yard sale. With new CNC processes, you can have a set of heads that flow wicked amounts of A/F mixture and where horsepower gains are significant.
This fuel cell shows signs...
This fuel cell shows signs of leaking around the gasket securing the plate to the bladder. Maintenance must be performed on these types of parts. If the bladder is leaking, then it is time to replace it. Newer fuels, especially pump gas, contain some amounts of ethanol and can degrade your fuel system parts and seals. Manufacturers are aware of this evolution of fuels and have addressed the problem. New parts are more ethanol resistant than older ones.
While you're at it, consider installing a whole new valvetrain that will improve the rocker ratio, increase duration, and will include lighter components. These types of parts just keep getting better and better each year.
Plug Wires, Distributor, Alternator, and Ignition Box
Your engine's electrical system that feeds the plugs works very hard and does wear out. A new season requires a close look at this part of your powerplant. A failure of any one of these means a missed race. If you plan on running at the top of the points this year, make sure your electrical system is in top shape.
Shocks and Springs
Shocks do a lot of work. These components must be either replaced or rebuilt at least once a season. If you ran yours all season long without inspection, they are due for a rebuild or replacement if not able to be repaired.
Consider newer designs to go along with that new setup you have in mind. Shocks complement all setups but there can be very different requirements depending on your type of racing and even your particular setup. What works for a more conventional setup will not work for a soft-spring setup.
Inspect your fuel cell at...
Inspect your fuel cell at least once a year, normally after the season is over. Make sure the foam is in good shape and that the pickup is free of debris and in the proper area for fuel pickup, usually the RR corner of the cell. Replace the breather filter if it appears dirty or soiled with fuel. The metal enclosure should be free of rust and the mounts secure.
Your springs may not wear out, but they can be damaged or sag to the point of being too short. The rate can also change from losing coils as the spring gets shorter. Think about your intended uses and make sure you have the springs you will need for every track condition you might run across, especially if you are touring and will run different tracks. One size does not fit all when it comes to springs.
Talk about high maintenance, your brake system needs love and attention, just like your spouse. Ignore this important chassis partner and you'll get a big surprise at some point when you least expect it. Your brake partner will leave you and take your car with it.
Inspect, repair, and/or replace the components that wear the most like the wheel cylinders, master cylinders, calipers, and even the pedal system. Talk to your brake specialist to find new and better pads, rotors, or calipers.
Ball and Heim Joints The chassis suspension pivots all have a high rate of wear and failure if not maintained and replaced periodically. Inspect your trailing arm Heim joints, arm bushings, and ball joints. Now is the time to consider switching to the low-friction ball joints and choosing the shaft length that will help improve your moment center design. Or install mono-balls so that making height changes to your spindle pivots is fast and easy.
Do you really need all of...
Do you really need all of those springs? You can sell off unused excess inventory and use that money to buy needed parts and equipment for your shop and race trailer. If you look around, I'll bet there are hundreds of dollars of parts and tools that could be sold to free up money for newer stuff.
Here is an item that often gets overlooked. Steering components don't last forever. Slop in the rack, steering box, or U-joints along the steering shaft, or a power assist unit that goes out can make the driver very uncomfortable. A steering part that breaks always brings with it more damage to the car and a lot of time and expense to repair. Stay on top of your steering system and you will finish more races.
There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to the rear of the car. Pull bars, lift arms, spear rods, J-bars, and birdcage designs all change and evolve. Simply installing a Panhard/J-bar adjuster could save you valuable time in the pits during a race or just when testing or practicing.
Racers are always looking for ways to improve bite off the corners and the manufacturers are constantly coming up with new ideas and improved parts. Keep checking with the various companies and car builders for new ideas.
Helmets Newer helmet designs offer better cooling, better protection, and less weight. If you've had a hard lick wearing your old helmet, and you haven't had it inspected, you need to send it off to the manufacturer for the once over. Or, better yet, look over all of the new models and opt to buy a new one that is more advanced. You have plenty of time to make your choice of a new one or send in the old one before that first practice.
Head-and-Neck Restraint System You should know by now how we feel about this item, it is a must-have for anyone racing a stock car, period. If you don't have one, get one. Think about the old west days when the horse thief was hanged from the nearest tree, well that is exactly what it is like to hit a concrete wall hard and not have an H&N restraint system on, no kidding.
The drivers who die not wearing these safety items appear to have been hanged. Don't risk it, dig up the cash now and just buy one. When and if you do hit the wall hard, you will know why that was money well spent. Do it for your family as well as for yourself. They may end up missing you, and you them, otherwise.
SeatBelts Seatbelts, by regulation, have a life. Inspect your belts for wear and tear and to see if the date has expired. If so, it's time to replace them. New belts aren't real expensive, but necessary for being safer in your car. There are many different models on the market and mounts for every application.
Driver Suit Think about your choice of driver suit. If it isn't the highest rating for fire protection, then close your eyes and imagine you're trapped in your burning race car, fuel all around you spilled from your car and you need 30 seconds to get out. That's a long time. Sit where you are, look at your watch and see how long 30 seconds is and all the while imagine being engulfed in flames. Now you get the idea. Just adding protective underwear adds to the time you have to escape.
The highest rating in driver suits can provide up to and beyond 30 seconds of protection from fire. Lower rates suits provide less than that down to only 3 seconds in a single layer entry level suit. Can you get out that fast? Make the smart choice.
Driver Seat The seats made for stock cars have improved tremendously over the past 10 years. They now provide good side support, head support, and are more comfortable. If it's been a while since you purchased a new seat, take a look around at what is available and think about making your butt both more comfortable as well as safer.
A new set of control arms...
A new set of control arms and definitely new Heims are a must for being prepared for the new season. While you're at it, look into any new designs of third link pull bars or lift arms. These items are always in a state of evolution.
The radiator takes lots of...
The radiator takes lots of abuse and should be considered when thinking about parts for the new year. There have been advancements in design to allow better cooling in a small package. If you have had cooling problems, consult with your parts supplier to find solutions.
Look over your entire brake...
Look over your entire brake system and consider replacing parts that are of sufficient age. Metal brake lines will rust inside, master cylinders will wear out, and your brake rotors and pads will need to be replaced after a season of use.
Simply installing add-ons for head protection helps improve your older design. New nets for arm movement restriction and newer padding just add to the cockpit safety package to further reduce pain and injury in a crash.
Fire Suppression System When you are all done fitting that highly rated firesuit and CarbonX underwear, one more thing might just be the ticket, an updated fire suppression unit with plumbing to critical areas of the car. A well thought out fire bottle delivery system could provide an envelop of protection for you as you remove your belts, unhook your helmet communications and blower hose, release your H&N device, remove your steering wheel, drop your safety net, and climb out of the car.
Hitting that bottle release could bring a measure of relief from flames and heat to allow you to do all of the above. This is like every other safety item we talk about, you'll never need it until you need it. It is insurance. Every time you get into your car, you must think about the worst case scenario. There is never a time when these events take a vacation. The possibility always exists.
Conclusion So, now that you've had a chance to think about all of your wants and wishes, break down your budget and see how much money you have available. Make your list of needs and tally the cost. Then, if you have a dedicated and loyal sponsor, meet with them and present your wish list. It might be easier to get the money you need if you have a definite plan on how you will spend it. A list tells the sponsor you know what you need to be successful and together you might just reach your goals.