You’ve decided that it’s time to put your driving skills and your vehicle’s performance to the test at a good old-fashioned track day. Driving ability is important, but people often forget the crucial race tuning that a vehicle needs to undergo before proving its mettle under race conditions. The demands that high speeds, hairpin turns and sudden braking place on your vehicle are unlike anything it has ever experienced while driving on public roads. Failing to tune your vehicle properly before a race leaves it vulnerable to severe damage, not to mention the safety risk it will pose to you and other drivers. That’s why we’ve compiled a race tuning checklist for you to consult before the big day.
Brakes, Suspension and Steering
Everyone loves to go fast, but slowing down is arguably more important. You’re going to be braking hard and it’s essential that your braking system is in good working order. Look out for damage to your brake lines, they can crack over time as they are often constructed using rubber. Your brake fluid should be relatively new, not just in the reservoir but throughout the entire braking system – flushing old brake fluid from the system can go a long way to improving braking effectiveness. Let’s also not forget about brake pads. These should be no more than 50% worn and it may even be a good idea to keep a spare set with you on the day – you won’t be doing any racing if you can’t brake properly.
Your steering system should allow smooth turning without binding. Loose wheel bearings and suspension pick up points are really going to impair your handling on the track which can be frustrating. Some track day fine-tuning may be required to get the steering system just right.
Wheels and Tires
Your tires are really going to take a beating out on the track so it’s vital that there is sufficient tread depth before even starting to race. If they are already down to the wear indicators then they’re no good and attempting to race with them will lead to sliding all over the track due to lack of grip. If you’ve had to repair a tire with a patch or plug, it’s best to just replace the tire because it’s unlikely that the patch or plug will survive the temperatures of a track day. Don’t forget to ensure that all wheel nuts are tightened and remove any wheel covers that could come flying off at high speeds.
Every driver has their own opinion of the ideal tire pressure for racing and they have been known to guard this information like a trade secret. Manufacturers suggest that increasing tire pressure by 5-10% will generally improve their performance on the track. It’s important to remember that pressure increases as the tire heats up so consider this if you’re going to be spending a long time on the track.
Engine Health, Fluids and Fuel
A leaking engine is a big no-no for track days as liquids on the track will endanger you and other drivers. Have that engine thoroughly checked. Your oil, water and other fluid levels should be sufficiently high as they can slosh to one side of the reservoir during tight cornering leading to fluid starvation.
You may want to consider an investment in higher octane fuel for race day. Although more expensive, this type of fuel can be a huge boon to performance. Try to fill up only as much fuel as you’ll require on the day; excess fuel is excess weight which will negatively impact your times.
General Safety Tips
Remove anything inside the vehicle that could fly around in an accident. This includes spare wheels, jacks and your precious CD collection – you won’t enjoy it as much when it hits you in the back of the head.
A fire-proof helmet is an absolute necessity. No helmet, no race. Your head is your most valuable asset and it needs to be protected in the event of an accident or vehicle fire.
Where to Have Your Vehicle Race Tuned
Race tuning can be something of an art. Get it right, and your vehicle will shine on the track and comfortably endure the strains of racing. Get it wrong, and you could damage your vehicle, injure yourself and have a generally terrible day at the track. It pays to have your vehicle tuned by professionals with years of experience and inside knowledge of the subtle tweaks needed to unleash your vehicle’s full potential. Foreign Affairs Motorsport is South Florida’s Premier German Auto Repair, Performance & Race Facility and with 35 years of experience in the motorsports community, you can be sure that we’ll provide the highest quality race tuning for your vehicle. Contact us at (954) 746-0488 if you want to give your vehicle the best possible preparation for an exciting day at the track.