In talking to my super-famous-southerndrawlhavingHondaChallengeH2Sensation-friend Brad "BRAP" Adams on the phone the other day, he complained that the only drawback to racing is the unending prep work and maintenance. It'd be nice if you could forget the car between races and testing days, but, that's pretty much a terrible idea.
Getting prepped for a race or track weekend for me is always a bit of a daunting task. So much of my recent (and ongoing) garage renovation has been pushed in the direction of making track weekend preparation work easier to accomplish, and quicker. Life seems to constantly pile more tasks on those who get things done, and I seem to be one of those idiots who takes on too many tasks.
In a few weeks I hope to be traveling to Atlanta for one last hoorah of a race weekend with NASA (my first actual NASA race weekend actually) before it gets cold and snowy in Chicago for a few months. A December race weekend seems quite odd to me, as up until now, the latest in the year I've been on track has been October. Friends will be traveling with me, mostly Gridlife staffers, and we'll be planning out our August Gridlife event at Road Atlanta during the race weekend. I'm really excited to turn a wheel on such an iconic track, and experience the big drop after the bridge, etc. What I'm not excited about is the tiny annoying jobs I've told myself I need to do on the car before it gets loaded onto the trailer and we lumber south for a few days. Little, not-fun, check/fix/adjust/etc jobs aren't the tasks anyone daydreams about. These arent the jobs that the old racers entice the wannabe guys to the track by telling stories about. This is the pain in the butt stuff. Most of it I'll likely barely do, and "good-enough" signoff on them mentally.
Building a car from scratch for myself seems like a great way to spend a year of free time for me someday (HA! free time!). I catch myself thinking how I'd fabricate different stuff for the rollcage, ammend this little stuff that bothers me about some details of my current shell, seam weld it, strip it bare , etc. "Do it right" has been the running theme of my current CRX, a car that has been built for SCCA STL (super touring lite) competition, yet fits pretty well into NASA's Honda Challenge H2 class.
"Do it right" has led us to mod the roll cage, clean, paint, build a new wiring harness, tune it many times, build a bunch of engines, add spherical-bearing-heaven to everything suspension related, install 3011 Koni Monotube shocks, etc, etc. etc. All the little stuff that bugged me about the car when purchased as an Improved Touring A car years ago has mostly been amended, fixed, modified, etc. It was a million little projects, and now its down to maintenance and tweaking.
Putting out the "fires" before a weekend (bad wheel bearings, bent parts, loose stuff, cracked header, etc) always takes first priority, obviously. The little non glamourous jobs like putting a wrench on every nut and bolt to ensure it hasnt moved, checking the alignment against the notes, cleaning it (UGH!), vaccuming the Mid Ohio sand out (that was a bad off!), checking the tires on the balancer for bubbles, and roughly-balancing them after removing rubber chunks. Looking over the wiring harness, inspecting for problems/chaffing. Checking the coolant hoses for cracking or rubbing . Generally making sure nothing got stupid. This is just not the fun part of the the hobby. But, if you dont do it, some weak link might surface at just the wrong time, and that ruins lots of fun.
Being dedicated to this prep work wins races (I say this, because I've lost races , or DNF'd, because of a lack of prep or an oversight). I'm not the most experienced racer on any grid, but I've got a few hundred days on track (most HPDE), and nearly-religious prep work and checking over stuff saves the day frequently.
The thing I usually want to work on at every race weekend is myself and my driving abilities, and that is the best reason to get this stupid prep done beforehand. I need to get back into the garage I guess. I should probably go over some data as well I suppose. Nah.