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Old 01-13-2009, 10:59 PM
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How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event

How To Prepare Your Car for a Road Racing/Autocross Event

There are tons of how to's and FAQs on installation or upgrades or tuning, but there has not been one on preparation of a car for a race. After all, what is the point of upgrading our cars if we are not going to race them? This how-to guide is meant for legal and sanctioned racing in a close circuit or course. I do not condone street racing since it is chaotic and the people who do street racing typically race at the drop of a dime, therefore no prep is needed for that (::wink wink:

This guide operates to prepare and inform the novice road racer to make sure they obtain the optimum level of fun, safety, and consistency in their High Performance Driving Event (HPDE). This guide is not meant to improve or guarantees better lap times. This guide acknowledges racing as a dangerous and life threatening sport that can result in serious injury. Please always drive safely and be aware of other drivers on the course.

The most important thing to any sanctioned body of racing is protective head gear. A good helmet will last you a long time, given it never serves its built purpose (protecting your head in a crash). Most sanctioning bodies will require a Snell approved helmet, ask your local event manager/supervisor which is the most current Snell approved helmet. Helmets range from $200 upward to $2000. The rule of thumb is to buy the best helmet you can afford, it is after all your head. A decent helmet from Bell will run you a good $500. A closed face helmet is always a safer bet than an open face helmet, although open face helmets are cheaper, they are again, open. A typical closed face helmet provides a Snell rating, a fire retardant substance in the helmet, and a tested and approved crash safety material. Closed helmets protect not only your head but your face. With a good closed face helmet, you get a visor which makes it easier to protect your eyes from dust whilst driving at a good 100MPH.

Most sanctioning bodies require long sleeve shirts and long pants to protect you in case of a fire. The best bet would to purchase an entry level driving suit. A good Bell or Sparco racing suit with an SFI rating of 1 will run about $100-$300. The higher the SFI rating, the more expensive the suits. Find one that suits your needs, looks, style, and fit. A tighter fit is better because in case of an emergency you do not want a suit to get caught in anything.

Find yourself a good pair of driving shoes. A good driving shoe will have a thinner sole allowing you to better feel the pedal for pulses and vibrations. Puma makes many good driving shoes around $100 a pair. These shoes will feel awkward at first, but you will enjoy and feel your vehicle much more than with typical sneakers.

Moving onto the vehicle, remember to remove EVERYTHING from your car, including your floor mats. You do not want loose parts to turn into projectiles at high speeds. Some people believe leaving on the spare tire in the car is fine so long as it is tied down. I personally remove it because when I am road racing, I want the maximum benefits of performance from the car. The race track paddock is the safest place in the world. Do no t be afraid someone is going to steal your stuff. I typically leave a pile of my stuff somewhere out of the way and near where I will park my car when I exit the track. People at the paddock are too concerned with their own vehicle preparation to bother stealing your stuff. Obviously keep your wallet on your body, but anything else is fine. Iíve seen cameras, laptops, and tool sets left in the open and no one even cares to take a peak. The paddock is the safest place.

Your fluids are another crucial area for inspection. Make sure you have fresh fluids. A good functioning fluid will keep your car running smoothly during high intense driving. Make sure your brake fluid is clear and not burnt. Make sure there is no debris in it. Also, be sure your brake lines have no air and are firm. Another fluid to check is your clutch fluid. Make sure there is no dirt in the clutch fluid preventing you from performing a smooth shift. It is always good practice to change your brake fluid prior to a road racing event. DOT 4 or above will suffice, although the higher end brake fluid will provide a more firm pedal feel.

Make sure your tires are in good condition. Check the tire pressure and make sure they are at the proper PSI. Remove any center caps as they may come loose during the course of racing. Tighten and retighten your lug nuts prior to moving into the pits. You would not want a lug nut to fall loose while taking a corner at 60MPHs.

Once you have done your run, it is good practice to let your car cool off. Park your car, leave it in first gear, but do not pull your hand brake. Your brakes are very hot and can meld together if you leave your e-brake on. Pop open your hood and prop it up. Leave it this way until your next run. Opening the hood allows the hot air to flow out of your engine bay and lets your engine cool faster. You want to give your car sufficient time to cool down before your next run. Remember, racing puts a lot of strain in your car. It is doing work it normally does not do. Do not kill it by keeping heat in. Remember, prop your hood up after every run and do not pull your e-brake.

To review:
-Buy the best closed-face Snell approved helmet you can afford
-Wear long sleeve shirt, long pants, and good shoes.
-Check your clutch and brake fluid, replace if necessary.
-Make sure your tires are at proper PSI.
-Prop your hood up and let it cool off after every run.
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:37 PM
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Re: How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event

I'd just like to add a couple things to that. This is mostly autocross specific information, but some may apply to road racing.

1-Bring a chalk marker for your numbers and tires.

2-Tire pressure factory spec +2psi. Bring a tire pressure gauge. You can't add pressure at the course (unless you bring a compressor) but you can drop pressure. Put a mark on your tires sidewall to make sure you aren't rolling the sidewall over (if they do, add pressure). If the car under-steers (which it will) drop pressure in the front, 1-2lbs at a time.

3-FRESH OIL, make sure it is changed somewhat recently before the event. I use 2500 mile intervals with OEM filters and Mobile1, if I have more than 1500 before an event, it gets changed.

4-REFRESH OIL, soon after the event. I usually do it the day after, but if it was changed just before the event, sometime within the next 2-300 miles.

5-Transmission oil, if it is an automatic make sure it is clean. Do a Drain&Fill ASAP after the event, OEM only! If you have a manual make sure you are sticking to 15k intervals. Figure one auto-x day is like 5k of wear. OEM fluid if everything is working good, mix in some GM Synchromesh fluid if its a little rough into gears.

6-Brakes! Check your pad life, and CAREFULLY check your rotors before AND after. I cracked both fronts at one event, had I not caught it after the event I could have had a catastrophic failure. If you have rear drums, get familiar with them. Clean the drums out, backing plates, and shoes, inspect them all for unusual wear, pitting, and cracks. If the paint is gone off the springs, install a new hardware kit. Lube up the contact surfaces on the backing plates, and make sure the adjusters move freely. Adjust them up so the shoes just barely contact the drum. You should feel a slight drag when rotating the drum by hand. Needle nose vice grips are your best friend.

7-Get a damned torque wrench! A good one! Everything on your car has a torque spec, use it! I spent as much on my torque wrench as I did on my new auto-x car, and it is worth every cent.

8-Full vehicle inspection, check your bushings, ball joints, tie rods, fluid leaks etc...

9-For autocross you can use motorcycle type helmets, I bought my Scorpion EXO-300 for $150. It must be SNELL approved. The more you spend, the lighter they get, the better quality you get, but SNELL is SNELL. Fit is the most important thing, if it doesn't fit, it won't work. You should be able to strongly tighten the chin strap without it choking you, and it should not move around.
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:19 PM
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Re: How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event

very nice and informative information to both of you. I am glad that you guys put the itme in doing this, i'm pretty sure these information will be very helpful to a lot of people like me. lol. Thanks again to the both of ya.
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Old 01-14-2009, 08:48 PM
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Re: How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event

good info

now to think where to sticky this
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:46 PM
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Re: How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event

Originally Posted by DarkSideAccord View Post
good info

now to think where to sticky this

In that Motorsports Forum we never made...I mean...darryl never made
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:13 PM
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Re: How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event

*cough*darryl*cough*
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roy could live in Monaco, have won multimillion lotteries 7 times and hit $500k profit at a casino once a month, and he'll still be living in a ghetto and broke as fuck.

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Old 01-23-2009, 09:28 PM
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Re: How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event

good info....I'm looking to get into autox
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Old 01-26-2009, 11:46 PM
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Re: How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event

what is the differance between DOT and SNELL?
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:28 AM
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Re: How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event

Snell is more stringent.
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:53 PM
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Re: How to Prepare for a Road Racing Event

i was thinking of entering a scca event that they hold over the summer at the communtity college and i have a DOT. im guessing i have to get a SNELL?
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