Racing 101-Volume 5- July 9th, 2009

Racing 101

As usual, it has taken too long to write a new installment. Running two cars and organizing the return of the SS sprint class at New Egypt Speedway has taken a ton of time. Anyway, here we go!

Many fans seem to have a good handle on what teams do while they are at the racetrack. Everyone seems to know the basics from watching the coverage of racing on TV. For this installment, I’ve decided to tell you what happens AFTER you get back to the shop.

First, before I even leave the track, I shut down the car and run it out of fuel. Alcohol (methanol) is so corrosive it is disgusting. It will eat aluminum, dry rot rubber seals, and pretty much mess up your day big time. So, I shut off the fuel, run the carburetors or injectors out, and then fire up the engine on regular gasoline. The regular gas has a lubricating quality that also burns off excess methanol that is left in the engine. I will then use some Marvel Mystery oil and shoot a couple of squirts down the engine for good measure. If we’re travelling a long distance, I remove the wing and put it in the bed of the truck. The wing mounted on the car on an open trailer will kill your mileage by 2 to 3 MPG.

I know some teams insist on washing the car and getting it up on stands the night they come back from the races. I don’t do that…I’m ready for bed at the end of the night! Sunday morning I unload the car, and remove all the panels. On a sprint car this takes about 2 minutes. On a modified or late model this can take 20 minutes or more depending on how smashed up they are. I then wash all the panels and wings just like you do your regular car. I spray it down, let the mud loosen a bit, and then go to town with a standard sponge. The car gets a little different treatment. After removing the air cleaners and capping them off, I wet the entire car down and then spray it with a 50/50 mix of Castrol Super Clean and water. This stuff is simply amazing. It removes all the mud that usually takes an hour to get off by hand. Simply spray it on, let it sit for a minute, and then blast off with a hose. It does tend to kill the anodizing on aluminum parts a bit so I need to be careful with that. Otherwise, washing a sprinter really only takes an hour…total.

Once washed, it gets fired up to dry the engine and to remove any condensation that may have formed in it. The car gets to operating temperature and once again, the drain and fog system is kicked in.

Next, the car is pushed into the garage, and put on wheeled stands. All wheels are then removed. At this point, I fix any damage from the night before. Hopefully, there is none! If parts are needed that I do not have, I make a list on Sunday so I can get them ordered and have them shipped or picked up by Wednesday.

The next part….well….you may call me anal on this one but knock on wood, I’ve never had a mechanical failure outside of motor explosions that has knocked me out of competition in over 18 years of racing. I read years ago that Warren Johnson’s Pro Stock crew wiped the entire car down every week with a rag. They did this so they could be sure to check for failure before it happened or before it became a problem. I do the same thing but add a different touch to the process. I use a rag soaked in Marvel Mystery oil on every tube and component of the car. Yes..I wipe down every single surface and joint with the stuff. You’d be amazed at the amount of broken or somewhat ready to be broken or seized up parts I’ve found this way. Plus, this method also makes everything a little bit slippery so mud does not stick as well to everything. It also manages to keep bolts, rod ends, and anything that moves freed up and clean of rust and corrosion.

From there I “nut and bolt” the car. This involves tightening every single bolt and nut you can possibly get to. These cars take a terrible beating every week. The sprint cars tend to loosen up more so than the modifieds…not sure why, but they do.

From there, every two weeks is engine maintenance time. It’s time to check the valve lash, check the timing, change the oil, and do an overall check on the status of the motor. I also change the plugs every 4 weeks, but pull them out to check every two.

It is then time to check all the chassis set up adjustments. I’ll go over the particulars of this in a future installment.

Finally, it is time to do the “supporting role” activities. These would be tasks like dismount and remount tires, fill the fuel jugs up with fuel, wash the truck and trailer, fill the truck up with fuel, replace any used parts or fluids in the trailer, etc.

At the end of the day, with no major damage it takes me about 12 hours from the time the trailer backs in the driveway to the time it is ready to roll out again. A second car will add about 10 more hours. So, if you’re running a two car team like I am, this week was a 22 hour week to prep the entire operation for next week. This week we had no damage to speak of, just a few changes that needed to be made that required an extra hour or two of work.

At the end of the day, it’s a load of work for little track time. But, as anyone who loves racing would say…it’s all worth it when you win!

I’m looking for suggestions for upcoming installments. Please let me know what you’d like to read about or are interested in reading about! You can reach me at

Until next time- Take care, be good, and go see a race at your local speedway.


Here's all the Editions of "Racing 101"
Racing 101-Week 4 - July 9th, 2009
Racing 101-Week 4 - May 15th, 2009
Racing 101-Week 3 - April 19th, 2009
Racing 101-Week 2 - April 10th, 2009
Racing 101-Week 1 April 6th, 2009

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