10 Tips To Prepare for a Great Vintage Race Season

Photography Credit: Scott R. Lear

Already made the plunge and taken up vintage racing? Now that the off-season is upon us, here are 10 things you can do during the winter to make this upcoming year the best ever.

1. Think Globally

A lot of us tend to only run events close to home; we know the tracks and would rather not face a huge diesel bill. We’re not saying you need to crisscross the country, but what about making the trip to one of the really big events this year? Local events can be fun and intimate, but sometimes it’s nice to experience some serious competition at a national gathering.

2. Upgrade Your Gear

Back in the old days, we went into battle with not much more than clay flower pots strapped to our heads. Motorsports safety gear has made huge strides, especially in the last few years. Not wearing a head-and-neck restraint system? Why not? Compared to getting killed, they’re a bargain. Friends who have crashed while wearing them swear by these systems.

3. Do a Safety Check

In addition to your personal safety gear, how is the stuff inside the car? Are the belts current? And are they properly mounted? Not sure? Call in an expert. What about ultra-important items like brake hoses? If you haven’t done so yet, now is a great time to upgrade to braided stainless steel lines. For about a hundred bucks you can eliminate a potential problem.

4. Evaluate the Rig

Thanks to the fact that they spend most of their lives just parked in one place, trailer tires tend to age out before they wear out. If the tires on your trailer are more than 10 years old, replace them. While you’re back there, how are the trailer lights and brakes? Is the truck also ready for the season? Did you ever install those premium brake pads? Stop putting it off.

5. Hone Those Skills

We know, we know, everyone is a Mario Andretti. Well, in reality most of us aren’t as hot as we think we are. The States are currently served by many road racing schools. For what you spend to run one race, you can learn the art of racecraft from a seasoned pro on one of the country’s top tracks.

6. Visit the Dyno

We’ve all seen that team in the paddock: They spend all weekend fighting a car that just doesn’t want to run right. Did you know that for a few hundred bucks you can spend some time at a chassis dyno shop with an experienced tuner? Why chase problems 30 minutes before the call to grid when you can tune, sort and maximize your car in a clean, controlled environment?

7. Buy New Tires

When it comes to on-track performance, your tires are paramount. Running the right compound, size, alignment and pressure can make the difference between fighting for the lead and running last in line. Small data point: We recently swapped from full-tread Toyo race tires to shaved ones and dropped nearly three seconds per lap at Mid-Ohio. 

8. Tune the Chassis

So, how much camber do you have up front? What do your corner weights look like? Yeah, most of us don’t know those numbers. Most race prep shops can corner-weight and align a race car in just a few hours, eliminating many common handing ills. Rates vary, but figure a couple of hours at the normal shop rate. That’s usually cheaper than a tire or two.

9. Reevaluate the Graphics

We’ll be blunt: There are some unattractive race cars out there. Poorly executed numbers, dated graphics and a copious amount of racer tape do not generally make an eye-pleasing package. There are many sign shops and race car graphics specialists who would be happy to design a slick, affordable, vintage-correct visual package for your car.

10. Build a Posse

We’re supposed to vintage race because it’s fun, and what’s better than getting others involved? Before heading out to your next race, find someone new to bring along—maybe your neighbor, a friend from work, or a family member who’s always been too busy to go to the track. You never know where your next regular crew member will come from.

Photography Credit: David S. Wallens

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