For most of us racers, the months of December and January are our off-season (except for you Arizona guys). Unfortunately for some, the off-season goes from October to April. So what do we do while the tracks are covered in rain and snow, drink beer and watch football? Not a bad idea, but it won’t help out with next season’s efforts. I’ll list of few of my off-season activities, and I’d appreciate it if you send along a few of yours to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Maintenance – I go through the notes I’ve been taking throughout the season, and make a list of items that need attention that I didn’t make time for earlier. Since I just finished my car build this fall, my list is pretty short, but it has included items such as making ergonomic changes that take a lot of time and are just a pain to do, like moving seat and mirror mounts, adjusting pedal positions, and remounting the switch box. Also mods that make trackside adjustments easier, like improving access to the swaybar mounts or camber plates. Then there’s tasks like rebuilding that gearbox that was getting pretty chunky during the last couple events, or replacing those u-joints that have started talking to you.
- Cleaning – My racecar gets a good wipe down after every race weekend, but it usually gets a full scrubbing during the off-season. Every panel that can be removed comes off, and I get out the scrub brushes. I use this as an opportunity for a nitty-gritty chassis inspection as well. I make sure the light is bright and I’ve got my reading glasses on, and look for new dents, cracks, and loose mounts while I’m cleaning. Then I take an hour and put a wrench on every single nut and bolt, I’m always amazed how many loose fasteners I find.
- Upgrades – Come on, it’s Christmas time! Buy yourself that one thing you KNOW will make you faster next season. Maybe it’s that limited slip diff you’ve been eyeing. Or maybe that short-throw shifter. Or how about that stainless exhaust system that sounds sooo goood!
- Paint – That front fender that got Krylon spray painted to make the September event was good enough to finish the season, but come-on-man, pull it off, hammer out the dents, and get some real paint on it. You’ll feel much better at the season opener with a car that has all its corners in matching paint.
- Stay in shape – I’m getting older, and I’m more tired at the end of a race weekend than I used to be. Loading and unloading the car, tires, and tools, racing three sessions a day, wrenching all day, driving to and from the track, it takes a lot out of a one-man team. So I’m gonna try to eat a little less Christmas cake this year and get a few more jogs in, at least that’s a start…