Red lights and racing
by Bill Strong
Race car builders concentrate on making the cars fast. We try and wring the last bit of power from the stock parts, and make the car turn on a dime using the latest alignment tools on our cell phones. But we tend to skip over some very important parts that can lead to an early finish to a long race.
While the sun fell at Charlotte Motor Speedway recently, I made my way up to the race control tower high above the track. The sun was getting ready to set while teams were busy installing their high tech headlamps, or simply switching on their lights as they left pit lane after a pit stop. As cars circled the track, I listened to reports from the corner workers about cars with one or no tail lights. Brake lights were working great, but the running lights were either not working or extremely weak. It wasn’t just one or two cars, it was a good number of them.
From experience, we as car builders will go through and rip out everything not needed. Our first races are daytime races where running and headlamps are not needed. But then we make the decision to go night racing and have to rebuild the lighting from scratch. Or we have an old rusty chassis that has lights that work. But from sitting outside in the offseason, the grounds corrode up.
One of the items on your pre-race checklist should be lighting. Have a helper with you and check the lights, front and rear. Remove the connectors and inspect for corrosion. Check those grounding lugs and make certain that the wires are not broke, or burnt up. Replace questionable wiring and connectors.
Some other suggestions for lighting and being seen during the race is to use LED trailer brake and running lamps. Even using conspicuity DOT reflector tape.
The LED lamps are brighter and react faster than out 20 and 30-year-old OE lamps. They are also super easy to wire up.
The conspicuity DOT reflector tape is great to put on the side of your race car. In fact, putting it on all four corners can help your race car be seen by fellow racers and corner workers if you find yourself spun with zero power. Or off the track stuck in a far off tire wall, like at VIR or Nelson Ledges.
Being hit because you could not be seen can make your race day, and others day end early.
Doing this before the race can help you avoid that nasty black flag.
HOW TO FIX TAIL AND RUNNING LIGHT PROBLEMS