Top Ten, err... Eight, Avoidable Racer Mistakes

1. The Menace...

Let's start with the obvious. We have all seen the menace, the guy that thinks it's cool to ride the edge. This moron pedals three times, get all kinds of out of shape, clomps on the brakes, rolls it and then screams at the track officials over track prep. You sir, are an idiot. This kind of behavior is all too prevalent in the fastest street car ranks. Never fails to show up at least five times an event, thank God we haven't paid the ultimate price. Macho is winning races, and keeping the smile nice and pretty. Greg Anderson would look a whole less cool with an Alfred E Neumann smile.

2. The Encourager Of The Bad Diving

This is a special breed of moron. He's the hanger-on, often with little to contribute, often with no car of his own. He will make a driver that cheats death for a qualifying pass feel like a hero. The minute the driver climbs out, he's there with a pat on the back and his misguided adoration. You sir, need to sniff glue and eat lead paint. Keep your hero alive and smack him in the head for that behavior, don't buy him a round of drinks for it. Even if your boy survives a wreck, it's hard to go rounds and keep racing a bent racecar.

3. No Low RPM Shutoff for Nitrous engagement

There are several products that will shut off the nitrous at just a few hundred rpm below the two-step, effectively ending the chance for a big starting line boom that inevitably results in fractured fuel fittings and a nasty fire. Today's digital ignitions have these provisions, and rpm switches can be used for those with analog equipment. A few bucks, a few hours, no boom boom. Good investment. If you've installed these safety devices, regularly inspect the micro-switches and relays for corrosion or shorts that could thwart your best efforts.

4. Dialing tight enough to require a stab of the brakes

Bracket racers have a tough job, because after they've cut a good light, they have to win by juuuust enough to avoid a break out. Many racers are carrying more time in their pocket downtrack these days, requiring a jab of the brakes to scrub ET and back into their dial in. Regular readers of this column will recall that the spring, fourlink and shock settings are set up to corral a launching car, not one with the nose diving at speed. Sudden deceleration is never a good thing- lift earlier or drag the brakes on the gas- it's a whole lot safer.

5. Failing to tune for conditions

When we unload our cars in Belle Rose, we will be greeted by some of the flattest, smoothest asphalt we'll see all year. The air will be crisp, and close to sea level. It'll be flat-out good. By the time we get to Salem, a bumpier racetrack riding at a higher elevation will greet us. What will you change? Air bleeds? Main Jets? Nitrous Jets? Shocks? Four Link? Wing? Once a car leaves any shop it should be set up with a ‘git down' tune up and have another for those fast, special conditions we chase all over the country. The git down tune up will go through a hog farm- but where do you go to pick up a bit extra when things get good, or- where do you go when you OPPONENTS can't adjust for the slower track? Come up with a game plan- each track presents new challenges that you can overcome better than the opposition, sometimes making up a horsepower deficit in the process.

6. Tuning their nitrous systems outside of their design parameters.

Commercially available nitrous systems will only deliver so many lbs./hr of nitrous before they go horribly rich or lean- No matter what the instructions or your buddy says, make sure that system dumps what you expect when you jet up over 120 thou total area, not more, not less. Too often, there are very large pills in these systems that do not deliver a consistent amount due to phase change, quickly depleting bottle pressures, etc. From the front to the back of the track it may be inconsistent, let alone run to run. Many of the guys still in tech at the end of Sunday night (ie the ones with the checks) have smaller, tighter, meaner kits than the ones on the cars chasing them.

7. Disrespecting their elders, even if they are slower.

I see some of this crap at the NSCA races more than in Canada. There are guys in the NSS lanes that competed in Pro Stock, guys that were in Mercury and Dodge ads back in the day. You owe your sport to them. Don't gun your motors at them when you are on the return road, don't view them as ‘bracket cars.' Get to know the guys with the old iron. We've had big time living history pass through NSCA - Mancini, Vanke, guys in F/M - They are often legends that we are ignorant of because they don't go 7's with nitrous. No, they often go eights with 421's and 409's - Listen and learn.

8. Bringing a wounded car to the line, thinking it's ‘macho'.

This one is easy to explain. Stuffed rags, wet RTV and duct tape do not belong on the starting line. Save the risky stuff for your personal life, there is another car in the other lane that deserves to get to the other end without seeing you in his. Once a track is oiled due to a shoddy repair, you could be subject to disqualification. We don't make a lot of noise about this (perhaps we should - what happened to common sense?) but racers have lost points and entry fee due to their sloppy oil downs.

Instead of reaching for two more items, I'll end this by encouraging everyone to look into at least one new safety item you ‘don't need' for the '05 season. Maybe a fire system, a diaper, or a 3.2A/15 suit. The rulebook should always be considered a minimum, not a guarantee of protection. Only you can ensure that. Ask questions if confused- Tony D, Rob or Myself will be happy to suggest some good pieces.


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