How to Win Races Before You Get to the Track

How to Win Races Before You Get to the Track

It doesn’t matter if you invest in the best tires, in parts that last for ten years (don’t you wish!) and the best mechanic and team, if you don’t prepare properly, then it’s all for nothing.  The key to winning is making sure everything is ready before you get to the track by checking and evaluating every part of the car.

One of the best tools you can use is a checklist.  There are several methods that you can employ, including making a checklist and having people sign them off one item at a time, using the combination of a checklist and a whiteboard, or using a whiteboard instead of a paper checklist.  Whichever system you choose, make sure it’s going to be something that you’re able to do consistently, so it improves your record keeping.  There are examples of checklists in this section of the website.

Here are some of the different checklists you may want to have.

  • Spare Parts
  • Tools & Equipment
  • Chassis
  • Engine
  • Front End
  • Rear End
  • Transmission
  • Driver’s Compartment

You may prefer to change those names according to what is best for your car and your team.  When you or your crew uses these checklists, have a place where the person who checked that item puts his initials so you know who did what.  This enables you to keep track of what item was replaced at what time, and gives you a complete picture of the maintenance on a regular basis.  There is a reason why all professional race teams make extensive use of checklists.

For components like the engine, transmission and rear end, we attach a tag to them where we record the usage history and when it was rebuilt.  That way we can easily determine when it needs to be reconditioned.  While the component is in the car, we put the tag inside the trunk area so it doesn’t get lost or damaged.

You need to make a record of the suspension setup you use when you race at a particular track.  That way you can use that setup when you go back there so you are not starting all over again.    Some of the things you can record at the track are carb jet sizes, ignition timing, camber, caster, shock setting, springs, corner weights, ride height, etc.  There will be samples of data sheets under the checklist heading of the Car Setup and Tuning section of the website.

It’s definitely important to do all of this before you get to the race track.  If you wait until you arrive at the race track to check these items, you are taking the chance of either not having what you need to fix any problems that are found, or running out of time to complete the project. Arriving with a car that is ready to go will give you the best chance to take the trophy home at the end of the day.

The driver should also take notes of his performance during the weekend. How he drove a particular corner, any problems he had, something he tried which made him faster, etc.  Virtually all professional drivers keep some sort of record of each of the races at which they drive.  We will discuss this more in the Performance Driving section of the website.