Install the Best Racing Tires and Brakes
Tires and brakes are two of the most important components on your car for daily driving, and they’re even more important when ripping around the race track. Without proper tires, you’ll never get traction in the corners, and without the right brakes, you’ll have trouble slowing down and entering corners. All of this will lead to slower lap times and premature wear of the components, requiring replacement. Running stock tires and brakes is fine for the beginning, but any serious competitor should bring upgraded brakes and tires as the stock ones won’t last long!
The best racing tires depend solely on the car. Common tires are Dunlop Direzza’s and Hankook Ventus R-S3’s. As for brakes, a high quality, temperature resistant brake pad and rotor, such as Hawk Pads and Girodisc rotors for the best mix of life and stopping power!
Get an Alignment
Most expensive does not always equate to the best suspension for racing. Coilovers are not always the save-all solution for suspension when it comes to speeding around the track. Truth be told, most coilovers are not suited for racing applications and may actually hurt your time, not to mention your wallet. Even then, most coilovers that are not properly set up that lack proper supporting components are worse than your factory suspension.
The best modification you can make for the money is an all around, factory spec alignment. Making sure everything is just the way the manufacturer intended it to be is guaranteed to make you faster in the corners. If you take the car to an alignment shop, they can check for things that may be worn or wearing out, that may become a casualty at the track. Things like bad wheel bearings, leaking ball joints, and movement in the tie rods can make a car handle badly, and very dangerous to drive on the track.
For most, OEM wheel bearings, tie rods, and ball joints will be sufficient enough. For the weekend warrior, however, performance components may be needed. If you’re looking to beef up your suspension, manufacturers like Moog, Whiteline, and Tein are known for providing durable, long lasting suspension components with a proven track record.
Remove any Unnecessary Interior Weight
Cars today come with a ton of bells and whistles. While these accommodations are nice for your commute to work or long trips with the family, they add pointless weight to the car that just isn’t needed on the track. You can cut some serious time off your laps by removing these items and keeping them at home!
Start by removing simple things like the spare tire in the trunk, floor mats in the cabin, and extra stuff in the glovebox. Even air fresheners and CD’s on the visor add up and slow you down. From there, you can start the process of taking off more weight, which may not be as easy. The rear and passenger seats, cabin carpeting, air conditioner core, and interior panelling all add up to some considerable weight. While not exactly ideal items to remove from a daily driver, these items will cut a bunch of time off your lap!
For the extreme racer, you may even consider getting some lightweight carbon fiber body panels. These will replace heavy items such as the factory spoiler, bumpers, hood, and side skirts, all while making the car look more race-car! Careful though, while carbon fiber may be light, it isn’t for everyone. Carbon fiber can crack and be a costly item to replace.
Check All Fluids and Replace Worn Belts
The engine is what makes the car go, so it makes sense for it to be in good health. Checking it’s vitals for low fluid and topping off with quality oil and coolant where necessary is the best method of being proactive regarding potential failure. It’s also a good idea to take a look at the accessory belts and replace any that look worn. Nothing is more frustrating than having to call it a day because of something like a snapped belt. If you’re behind schedule on a full tune up, go ahead and complete it with the best tune up components for your platform before you head off to the track. You’ll want everything in tip-top shape for ripping cones or taking corners, and the best way to ensure everything is ready is a good basic tune up.
Many tracks also have rules regarding fluid leaks, so inspect your engine bay for any potential leaks that may compromise the quality of the track surface. Some tracks may even decline your safety inspection if they see any potentially harmful areas for leaks. Lastly, make sure your positive battery terminal has a cover.
Get Your Gear Ready
Almost all track events require you have proper, approved safety equipment. These can range from full flame-proof suits to just a simple helmet. Verify the safety rules at the event you’re attending and plan accordingly. If no flame-suit is required, it’s in your best interest to wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and closed-toe shoes. No sandals, no basketball shorts, and no tank tops! The helmet is important, as it must be a Snell approved helmet for auto racing. Sorry, but the foam bike helmet you picked up at Walmart will not cut it here, and you’ll be asked to leave.
Another good idea is to install some gauges to monitor your car while you have it performing at it’s highest. Things can go wrong in the blink of an eye, leading to unsafe driving conditions for others. It’s a good idea to have the appropriate monitoring devices in your car working at their utmost highest potential to ensure nothing catastrophic happens, and can be prevented before they occur.
Are You Ready?
Having a car in perfect race form is one thing, but being able to drive it is another. Are you physically and mentally ready to get behind the wheel and drive? It sounds easier than it really is, and the best way to prepare for a race it to take care of yourself. Dont go out and party the night before. Make sure you’re well hydrated and nourished. Don’t skip meals or eat fast food, as it will only lead to fatigue. You want to be alert and ready for everything the moment your tires meet the pavement.