Car Preparation and Setup

A race car which has been properly prepared in the shop has many advantages but some racers tend to overlook this very important element of racing.  It's far too common to see racers wash dirt from the previous race from the car, load it on the trailer and drive off to the next race.  Let's look for a moment at what happens when a car is not properly prepared.  The first clue is usually the first session on track when something does not perform correctly.  This may mean an early retirement from the session, sometimes an embarrassing flat tow back to the paddock and then a frantic spurt of work to get the car ready for the next session.  This process sometimes snowballs and continues throughout the weekend with frustrating results.  Such race weekends are rarely either successful or enjoyable. 

A secondary result of improper prep is the additional parts and supplies which are inevitably used or used up.  These can be as minor as gasket sealer and safety wire or more expensive, such as brake pads, wheel bearings or ring-and-pinion assemblies.

It should be obvious that a third result is that a driver's finishing position will be adversely affected by the poor performance of the car.  Considering all these negative attributes, it's a mystery why so many choose to ignore proper attention to all the details on a race car which can ruin a weekend.

It is unfortunately impossible to catch every single item which could cause a problem.  One of our cars won a race once, because the leader had a terminal on a battery cable break handing the lead to us.  You would have had to be in the right place at the right time to find that little pending disaster!  We weren't as fast that time but we were better prepared and inherited the win.  Unforeseen calamities pop up occasionally, but the goal is to cover all the bases to eliminate as many potential failure points as possible.  Below are photos of a few items we have caught after the fact and some we have prevented by careful preparation.

These pads were new only two race weekends earlier.  It seems the wobbling rotors were at least partly responsible for increased pad knockback which increased brake pedal travel and, of course, made pad wear more rapid than it should have been.  If this situation had been caught earlier the car would have performed better and, at the very least, new pads would not now be required.

Everyone knows that new dog rings make a gearbox shift easier.  Dog rings can be worn prematurely like the one on the bottom by poor shifting technique but also by improper gearbox setup. This can affect selector forks and gears, too.  A poor gearbox can fool a driver into thinking he is not a good shifter and also affect his driving performance.  We look for tell tale signs of improper setup with each gear change to catch it before it becomes expensive - and before the driver loses confidence in himself. 





Some parts hidden in the depths get little attention until they cause problems.  We like to check these items any time they are accessible to ensure they don't bite us at the track when we have little time to deal with them.  When the gearbox comes off for any reason the clutch plates get checked like this twin plate from a Formula Atlantic.

When the gearbox is removed from the car we normally do a thorough visual check on the slave cylinder to make sure that there are no leaks and service or replace if necessary.  Small things like this can catch us out very easily at a race weekend.

Therefore, race car preparation involves much more than just bleeding brakes and charging the battery when required.  Race cars are complex machines  and each part must work properly in order for a race weekend to go well.  Many race drivers are busy with jobs and family, hence they do not have the time to devote the attention to these items that they require.  Fortunately, at VMP Motorsport, the preparation of race cars for our clients is our job.  Please contact us to discuss your car and its particular needs and we can help you have a more successful and enjoyable racing experience.