Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The scoop on trackside tech inspections




Summer is track season for our sports car aficionados.  We’ve got the Porsches,  Bimmers, and Ferrari lining up for their track credentials.  Every now and then people ask what we look for at track tech inspection.  Exact requirements vary by club, class and track but the list below gives you a good idea.  The main goal is to make sure the cars are safe to run at speed.

General – no excessive body or chassis corrosion.  You can’t go on the track if it looks like the chassis is weakened by rust.  Scruffy paint is ok.

Windshield Wipers – must be functional and in sound condition.  That means blades are good, arms are tight, and washers work.  And the tank has to be full of washer juice.

Windows – must be secure and in good condition.  Nothing coming out.  No cracks in the glass.  All retaining moldings and trim have to be tight.

Mirrors – must be securely mounted and adjustable.  Car must have an inside rear view mirror.  Requirements for one or two outside mirrors vary.

Pedals – must be secure and exhibit free return (no binding.)  Pads must be secure and in good condition.  Brake pedal must be form without excessive travel.  Some events allow “roughened” metal pedal surfaces but many require rubber pedal pads be in place.

Seats – must be securely mounted, in sound condition.  Stock seats are usually ok, as are competition seats.  If you are in an event where a passenger or instructor is carried the seats generally have to match.

Brake fluid – level must be correct and fluid must be fresh within the last six months.  Most clubs recommend changing fluid before each driving school event.  Most checklists ask the date of the last change.



Brakes – must have sufficient lining thickness (friction material at least as thick as backing plate/no warning lights lit) and rotors or drums must be within wear limits.  Rubber hoses must be free of damage and less than ten years old.  Master cylinder must not show leakdown when steady pressure is applied.  Brake balance must be checked on road test.

Battery – must be securely mounted with no fluid leaks or corroded mountings. Battery must be held down so it will not fall out or short if the car rolls over.

Drive belts – must be in good condition and properly tensioned.  No big cracks, and no noises that warn of impending roller failure.  Fan (if fitted) must be in good shape with no cracks or damaged blades.

Throttle linkage – must work freely without binding, and return properly when released.  Not applicable to drive by wire cars.

Drive shafts and axles – joints must not have excessive play and they must be secure in their mountings.  Rubber boots (if fitted) must be free of damage.

Engine transmission and differential mounts – must be secure and free of damage or deterioration.  We judge this by looking at them and watching to see how much the engine twists if we gun it against the brake with the hood open.

Steering – must be tight but smooth and free of binding throughout the travel.  Steering wheel must be secure.  Power steering system must be free of leaks and properly filled.  All linkage joints must be tight; no torn rubber boots and no slop in anything.  Check control arms and other high strain areas for stress cracks.


Wheel bearings – must be properly adjusted and free of excess play.  No lube leakage onto brake linings.

Wheels – no cracked or bent rims.  Tires must show at least 3/32 tread, except for racing tires.  Tires must have appropriate speed and load ratings.

Leaks – no coolant brake fluid or fuel leaks allowed.  No “excessive” oil leaks.   Excessive generally means no risk of leaking oil on the track.  That means we would pass drips on the oil pan, but a drip on an oil cooler hose fitting could be a sign of impending blowout, so we would fail that.   Coolant must be actual coolant (not water) and at correct level.

Fuel and coolant hoses – must be tight and in good condition with no leakage, swelling, or cracking.

Exhaust – must be secure and in good condition.  All vehicles must be muffled.

Brake lights – must work

Other lights – head lamps may be required; otherwise light units must not be cracked or damaged.

Seat belt, fire extinguisher, and seat belt/harness rules will vary by track and event and class.

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