Racecar Prep: The Nuts and Bolts of Things

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Racecars undergo a lot more stress than your daily driver. Bolts wiggle loose, leaks develop, lines rub, components wear at a much greater rate etc… That is why at the beginning of every season, a full nut and bolt check is crucial to a successful campaign.

After winter storage the battery was dead. Step one, jump the car and warm the engine up.

Most racecar’s are in storage during the winter so this process is performed before the first race of the season. It helps identify issues that may have been forgotten from the previous season as well as re-familiarizing the driver with the car. As goofy as it sounds, there is a bond between the racer and racecar and this important pre season wrenching session starts building trust in the machine. In short, I am a hell of a lot faster with a clear mind as opposed to worrying about whether or not the cv bolts are secure.

Also note this inspection should be performed after any major changes to the car or incidents. I perform a quick check before every race weekend and a very thorough inspection as listed below before race one.

What to Check

A nut and bolt check is just what it sounds like. Check every nut and bolt on the car for secureness. Specifically, every nut or bolt that directly relates to motion/turning, braking, power and safety. A lot of this is done by applying light pressure with a wrench to verify that bolts aren’t loose. Loosening and re-torquing bolts isn’t necessary and could result in premature component wear. The following is my process.

Motion/Turning

I check everything that connects the chassis to the ground.

  • torsion tube mounts
  • control arms
  • front subframe
  • strut mounts top and bottom
  • coil spring perch (front)
  • camber plates (front)
  • tie rods and ends
  • camber bolts
  • steering rack knuckle
  • sway bar mounts
  • etc…

You get the idea, if it is a suspension or steering component, check it.

Braking

This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve said it but these cars were probably born before you so check the brake system.

  • caliper mounts front and rear
  • all brake hard lines from the master cylinder to calipers
  • secure any loose hardlines to the chassis. (zipties work great here)
  • inspect/replace brake pads
  • bleed brake system

Power

Anything that facilitates power or puts it to the ground.

  • engine mounts
  • transmission mounts
  • cv axle bolts (these love to back out, lock washers and blue locktite help)
  • radiator mounts and hoses
  • oil cooler mount and hoses
  • check hoses for wear as well and replace as necessary
  • exhaust bolts (I’ve seen more retirements from loose/fallen exhausts than probably anything else)
  • clean or replacer air filter (should be done every weekend)
You need a triple square tool for the cv bolts. There are 24 total with 6 on each side of the transaxle and 6 more on each wheel hub. These bolts love to back out during race conditions leading to early retirements.
Another common point of failure. Some like to safety wire the bolts on the shift linkage. I find HVAC aluminum tape does the trick with a lot less headache.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is after one race. Image the amount of debris if you went a whole season between cleanings.
After a quick shake this material fell out of the air filter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safety

Probably the most important but seems to be set it and forget it for some.

  • extinguisher
  • ballast
  • seat
  • harnesses
  • coolshirt cooler
  • roll cage mounts if bolt-in
  • anything that has the potential to become non stationary in race conditions

Additional pre season items

I change fluids in the 944spec once a year. During the pre season prep these items are changed.

  • engine oil and filter
  • transmission fluid
  • brake fluid and bleed slave cylinder
  • coolant – replace storage antifreeze with distilled water

I performed the pre season check on the 944spec car Wednesday with an in town race this weekend. After putting the car on stands it took about an hour to inspect everything and change fluids out. The car ran great during the 2019 season so I wasn’t expecting any real issues. However, I did replace a missing bearing cap that would have resulted in premature wheel bearing failure at some point during the season.

Now I won’t have any mechanical doubts crowding my head this Saturday. Instead, I will be focused on breaking the track record.

Chris Simmons By Chris Simmons

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About the Author:

Chris Simmons

Chris Simmons is a race car driver, instructor, business owner and all around gearhead. His passion for motorsport started in the drifting community and progressed into wheel to wheel racing of all kinds. When off track Chris can be found training and working on a myriad of projects. After a hiatus from writing, he is back to share his passion, knowledge and experience in regard to motorsports on and off the track.

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