This months tip is what to look for on your car before you hit the track, in between rounds, and before your mains. This will very on certain models but the majority should be very similar. In my experience each car or even certain brands all have their own little idiosyncrasies.
Every time I show up to the track I setup my pit the same way, every time. Why? Efficiency. Prior to working in this industry I was a mechanic working on Mopars, anything from minivans to Vipers. My big glue Snap On tool box was organized, every drawer. I could not only tell you I was missing a socket or screw driver, but exactly which one. Being organized is efficient, and being efficient and effective reduces stress something we need less of at the track these days. So organize your pit the same every time.
Before I hit the track with any of my cars for the first run of the day I go through it checking ride height, camber, toe, a quick go over any of the bottom chassis screws(if I’m not running a chassis protector) and assure my wheel nuts are snugged up. Why? Ride height can change with spring fatigue, this is especially true with a set of new springs. All springs will eventually settle but new ones can change as much as 2mm or more once you break them in. Ride height is a critical chassis adjustment, so do not take it for granted as it can affect everything from camber and toe to roll centers. Check your camber and toe with a gauge to assure consistency AFTER you check your ride height first! Last up for me is checking the lower chassis screws over. The last thing you need is a loose screw causing your car to brake going up a jump face or worse than that is if you’re running on an artificial surface and you’re “that guy” who slices up a nice 2 foot section of the surface because you were too lazy to check your chassis screws. Don’t be “that guy,” nobody likes him. If I’m running slippers this will be my final check as well. This gives me a chance to power up the model and check it over electrically.
In between rounds you should be looking over the entire car. Put a wrench on every screw and check it’s tightness. It takes less than 2 minutes and may save your best qualifier run, ask me how I know. Check your shocks for any leaks, bent shafts, or out of place shock spring retainers. Check your camber links for bends as well as the fitment of your ball cups. We’re all aware of certain models where the ball cups are known to be tight or weak. If you have one of these you should be checking them often. I’ll generally also check my ride height again to assure nothing is moving. These may seem like trivial “checks” but during these checks you will often find something if it’s there to be found.
Ready for mains and it’s the above check lists with a few things in addition to them. If I have the time, I’ll remove the shocks from the car and assure the suspension cycles smoothly with out any rough spots or binding. All it takes is one bent hinge pin, one tweaked ball cup, one over tightened ball cup to throw your ENTIRE setup off pace. This is why I take off the shocks,it allows you to feel things masked by the spring and shock oil dampening which may remain hidden. Again if I have time I’ll also remove the pinion gear and spin the drive train as a whole. This eliminates the motors natural drag from the equation and allows me to find bearings which are going bad. This is especially important on 1/8 cars where the bearings often take much more abuse both physically and mentally, those poor bearings; constantly beaten and abused jumping 40 foot gaps and being slung around the dirty tracks….. It is amazing what a Tekin Rx8 and T8 system can push through. Case in point was a race I was at with my E-Truggy. I love this class simply because of the speed and grace of the trucks. My car was whipping around corners to the left and I couldn’t figure out what it was…it didn’t make sense to be the tires, the suspension was good, I had a friend drive it while I watched at track level, nothing was apparent. I removed the pinion and spun the drive train only to find my left rear would barely move! Sure enough the rear hub bearings were shot and nearly seized up. This caused a braking effect hence the car hooking to the left, lesson learned.
To win a race you must first finish. Remember that you’ve spent your hard earned money into your car, you’ve invested time in practice and countless resources to get to the track and have a good time. Don’t stop just shy of the finish line because you’re lazy or aren’t paying attention. If you watch the top pro drivers in our sport, you will see each and every one of them going through motions just like this all the time. They may be talking or zoned out to music while doing it, but they’re doing it. Put in the time, put in the effort, and I promise you’ll see it in your results.
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