This is episode six of The Winner’s Circle, a drag racing podcast.
I’m your host, Leroy Leese. Our goal is to help you win more rounds at the track by sharing tips and tricks. This is episode six, brought to you by dragtracker.com, an online logbook serving the racing community through tools and technology. For this episode, we’re going to cover six simple modifications you can make to your car to make it race-ready. But before we dig in, I want to encourage you to check us out at dragtracker.com. On the right side of the website is a voicemail link. If you click that link you can leave me a voicemail and share stories or questions for a future topic on the show. Also, to leave a comment about this episode, go to dragtracker.com/podcast and click on episode six. There you’ll also find a transcript with links and notes from the show. Finally, we put out a Youtube version of every video, and we have an iTunes video podcast for every episode. If you want to leave a comment on our Youtube channel, just check it out at youtube.com/dragtracker. Also, I’d be very grateful if you’d rate us on iTunes. It helps us get more visible to other people who are interested in learning more about how drag racing works. If you get a chance to leave a rating, maybe a comment that would be great!
Alright, so six modifications you can make to your car to make it race-ready. And what I mean by that is, when you go bracket racing there are some specific things that you might think of doing to your car, or might not think of. And these are just a couple things that I think would be helpful just based on experience, for things that you need for race day, things that you can consider. So if you drive your street car to the track some of these things really don’t apply to you. If you’ve been racing twenty years you probably already know these things. So it’s for the guy who just got started racing, maybe this is his first season. This is some tips that will help you win some rounds. I mean that’s what we’re here for, right? So the first one I want to tell you about is side mirrors. I know a lot of cars have fiberglass doors, they can’t install car mirrors. (Editor note: Check out this article for information about putting mirrors on fiberglass doors http://drr.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/80760912/m/3577040826) Maybe you can, maybe some of those real light circular ones. But I think side mirrors are super important. I don’t have them on my car right now. Whenever you go through either doing a wrap or a paint job sometimes that might be one of the accessories that doesn’t make it back on. I just want to say, I think side mirrors are super important because it can really help you eliminate blind spots on your car. And even though they are not probably as good as far as, they add wind resistance, so they may be slowing the car down a little bit. The benefit you have by having side mirrors on your car far outweighs it. Because if you’re strapped in, you’re wearing a five-point harness it’s hard to turn around and see where the guys coming from. But if you can look in your mirror and see them and kind of judge how fast they’re coming down on you, or especially on your left side. If you’re in the left lane and you can’t turn to see all the way around you, that mirror is going to be really beneficial. So get some side mirrors on your car. Even if it makes it look less like a racecar. Even if it makes it look less slick, it makes it worth it when you win rounds.
Another thing is we really want to avoid blind spots if we can. Especially in bracket racing, professional racers don’t worry about it. They don’t care about what’s behind them. They’re just going straight ahead. Us bracket racers, or index, or class racers, we care about that. So another thing is to make sure you have your rearview mirror set. My rearview mirror is just under the roll bar. It’s in its stock position. I have it set, it only has one place but it’s in its set position. I can see out the entire rear window. I find that valuable. Don’t forget you have to back it out of the trailer sometimes too. So you need those things so that you can see. You spend more time unloading or loading on a garage trailer as you do actually racing. So it’s also very good to have.
The third thing is kind of interesting, it’s side lamps. I have run a ’68 Firebird, and on the rear are side markers and as I was walking through the garage one day, we have windows in our garage, and I was walking through, and it really lit up my tail light marker. And I thought “Wow that looks so cool, I love these old cars.” You know, seeing any of the lights on is cool. So I thought “I wonder if I should think about putting the lights back in. That would look really cool while I’m racing with all the lights in.” and then I thought “No way! Part of what’s cool about being in a bracket "race only" car, is not having any lights on the car except your tail lights, which the track needs to see you at the end of the track after the traps.” But also, your opponent can see you. So if I light my car up my opponent can know exactly where I’m at. I don’t want any light on the car. I want to be as stealthy and invisible to my opponent as possible. If I can sneak up on him, that would be great. I don’t want to give him any extra help on judging the finish line. So as pretty as it looked for the sun shining through to light up that Pontiac arrowhead, I love that kind of stuff. I’m not putting lights on my racecar because it makes it that much easier for my opponent to judge exactly my speed and where I’m at. So that’s number three.
Number four is, when you’re towing, and I tow on a trailer, it not an enclosed trailer, but a trailer. We’ve actually welded tow strap attachment points. So these are steel circles welded to the frame rails, and they make it very easy for us to tow. We just click it in there, click it to the trailer and ratchet it down. That’s another thing that’s one of those, when you’ve towed for a long time and you get tired of trying to avoid the break line as you wrap it around the axel, you know, stuff like that. If you have an enclosed trailer a lot of times when I’ve seen them, they’re using their wench and they’re strapping them down, so this doesn’t apply to you.
Another thing you need to think about on race day is to have a way to quickly cool your engine, or your transmission fluid, if you can. So what I’ve seen people do is on race day they will plan to after every run drive up to a water source, a lot of time it’s a hose the track has sitting out or something. But they’ll run water through their engine by running their engine. And that’s one way to do it. We run an electric water pump. I can turn on the water while I’m in the pits and cool it. We’ve also done, there have been times where we’ll pour cool water on the radiator to help it cool down, and that’s a good one. The problem with that is a lot of times it takes water up to the starting line with us and then we end up slipping. So sometimes we do that, sometimes we don’t. It depends on how the night’s going. Sometimes we do that, sometimes we don’t. Those are things to think about. I’ve also seen people who take streetcars will take bags of ice and put it on their intake manifold or their fuel injection units to just cool everything down from the top down. Just opening your hood lets some of the heat escape too so that’s a good idea. But again, if you’re going racing and you’re serious about it and you’re competing in point series, think about ways that every week you can help get your car cool and keep it cool in between rounds.
And then number six, let’s see, we did side lamps, side mirrors, blind spots, tow straps. Wow, I can’t believe we’re already at number six. Alright, number six is two things that I think you need to have in your car when you go to the race track. I always anticipate winning rounds, and so when I’m winning rounds that means it’s nighttime. And so I take with me a flashlight. And um, let’s see, I think I have a flashlight actually. Yeah, so I have a flashlight that I take with me when I go to the racetrack, just to see my time slip. A lot of times it seems like when I go to the track the time slip printer is out of ink or something. It’s really hard to see. It’s especially hard, we don’t have an interior light in our racecar too it’s super hard to see. If you have a streetcar you can just turn on the light and see but if you have a racecar and you’ve disconnected that, you don’t have any way to light it up. So I just take a flashlight so I can look at the time slip. And I just keep it, our racecar doesn’t have a passenger seat but we have a little tool bag where we keep a flashlight, a pen, so I can write notes on the time slip. You know like “car sputtered off the line” or I’ll write down the weather parameters for that day if there was tailwind or headwind, I write all those notes down. So number six is like a three-part series, I always do this, I don’t know why. It’s a flashlight, a pen, pencil, and a tire pressure gauge. So these are all things to keep in the car, in a little tool bag or some kind of bag in the seat, somewhere nearby. You’re going to want to check your tire pressure. You’re going to want to make sure if you’re running slicks that they’re at the right pressure at every round. Tire pressure can change a lot during the day. If you didn’t know that, it’s important to regulate that the total pressure cause it can really affect, especially with slicks, your consistency as far as traction. When I have one tire sitting in the sun, and I have a special tire cover that I put over the tire to keep it cool so it doesn’t heat up. But if there’s a difference one or two pounds of pressure can really make a difference in my traction. And like I said if you’re planning on going rounds, at least at our track, usually that means you’re racing at night. So you’ll need a flashlight to check your time slip, a pen to write on the time slip, and a tire pressure gauge.
So yeah, before you go to the track make sure you have all these things with you, or you’ve considered it for your racecar. I think that will help you win some rounds this year.
Alright so, last time I did a special section called pit etiquette and we talked about spectators that are in the pits should step out of the way if they see a car coming toward them that’s already run, or any car really because racecars tend to overheat. And it’s just an etiquette thing to make sure they can get back to their pit as soon as possible. That’s what we did last week, this week, I thought of another one, so we’re going to keep going with this idea. This one is not to throw your bottle caps on the ground. Pretty plain thing, most racers know this. Some racers have probably been a victim of this. When you throw a beer bottle cap or one of the old soda bottle type caps, they have very sharp edges, and we’re driving around on slicks. And it’s very easy for one of these bottle caps to get stuck and actually slit the tire. I mean it’s a terrible thing. You can plug a slick, I mean we’ve done it. I don’t know if it’s recommended by the manufacturer but you’ve got to be careful. If it’s a slice in the tire you’ve got to be careful, you can’t risk it. And one of the biggest things, as far as maintaining a racing operation is, you spend a lot of money on your engine, a lot of money on a lot of parts of the car, but the rubber, I mean you’re literally burning it off every time you go do a burn out and drive down the track. So it’s soft. It’s expensive, we spend a thousand dollars to get rear tires and rear wheels. I just hate bottle caps. I pick them up every time I see them and try to get them out of the way. Doesn’t matter if it’s a grass pit area, or concrete, or macadum**, whatever, just don’t throw your bottle caps down. Put them in the track can. Do the racers a favor, we definitely appreciate it.
Alright so, I don’t have any stories cued up for us this week. Hopefully we’ll get back to that soon. I do have a story related to pit etiquette but I wanted to use that for the next couple episodes. But what I wanted to do is let you know every time we do a new podcast we have a new opportunity to put somebody’s car up there as a thumbnail on our Youtube. So I’m looking for race cars. I don’t want to beg because it’s not very becoming to see a grown man begging, but I just want to see cool pictures of your cars and give a chance for everybody to show up on the front of our Youtube channel. And I think it’s really fun. So the last episode, I didn’t get enough feedback. So I ended up using a picture of my dad when he was in the Winner’s Circle at York US 30 in 1977. So that was pretty fun. So it doesn’t have to be a new picture last year, this year, whatever. I’ll take anything you’ve got. So if it’s of your car launching, or if you’re in the winner’s circle I mean this is The Winner’s Circle podcast so we would love, love, love to have pictures like that to use and feature your car. Plus, at this point we’ve used Pontiacs and Mopars, where the heck are you Ford guys at, right? Even if it’s not like a pro-mod looking car, if it’s just a regular street car it’s be great man. So send it over, please. Alright, let’s see, other business. The other podcast that we love is the WFO radio podcast so check them out. It’s called WFO nitro and it’s really good, really entertaining NHRA podcast. We’ve got some interesting stuff lined up this summer. So I’m recording this, it’s mid-March, 2014, but we’ve got some cool podcasts planned, hoping to get some interviews in with some interesting people. Also, I might as well ask for it, go ahead and submit any questions you have about logbooks. Because episode seven is going to be about how to use a logbook, why you need a logbook, that kind of thing. I didn’t want to do this kind of podcast right out of the gate because our primary sponsor dragtracker.com their business is logbooks and I didn’t want to seem like I was just doing it for something, to turn it into an advertisement, cause that’s not what it is. I think they’re valuable for anybody. So I’m going to be showcasing a Summit racing logbook, Jegs logbook, a couple other logbooks, talk about a couple other logbooks. We’ll talk about the DragTracker logbook too because it just makes sense. Obviously, I wouldn’t be associated with them if I didn’t think it was a valuable tool too. But we’re not just going to talk about it there. We’re going to talk about all of them, some of the pros and cons of using them. Mostly how it works for you because we’re here to help you win rounds. So why’s the other guy here, how is he using that information, that kind of stuff, so hopefully that’s helpful. So yeah, I’m really excited about it. And then, like I said I’m really excited about episodes coming up. Man, we’re going to talk about how dial-ins work, dial-in racing. We’re going to talk about finishing technique, just some really, really cool stuff. Just keep watching, keep listening. Race safe. Race to win, and take care. Thanks.