Maintenance MattersAnother aspect of dirt racing that separates it from its asphalt cousin is that the track is always changing, and sometimes quite dramatically. Holes and ruts can form in the track's surface that can not only upset the suspension but also cause quite a bit of damage. Because of this, as well as the fact that the abrasive nature of dust can make it quite damaging to bearings and other critical areas of the car, a regular maintenance program on your racecar is a necessity.
Danny Breuer drives for a touring Dirt Late Model team and says that the nature of dirt-track racing is very hard on a few specific components. Some are particular to a Dirt Late Model chassis, but most affect every dirt racecar.
"One of the biggest things I see overlooked," he says, "is the torque arm. They get a lot of abuse, and cracks will develop. If you don't catch it when the torque arm starts getting cracks, it can break. When that happens, the rear end rolls over and usually the driveshaft will come loose. Then you have the driveshaft flopping around and that can damage the driver's compartment. A broken torque arm on the track will also wind up damaging your suspension bars. You definitely should at least visually check it every week."
Breuer also recommends keeping a close eye on all ball joints, heim joints and spherical rod ends-especially in the steering system. You don't have to crash to damage something here. Ruts and holes can play havoc on your steering system, and dirt can quickly wear your ball joints. Check them every week or two. Once you start noticing slop in any of the joints you should consider replacing them.
Finally, because of extreme chassis articulation, racers in many classes use a transmission equipped with a ball-spline shaft. This shaft is part of the transmission tailhousing and expands to keep the driveshaft from pulling loose when the racecar is squatted over on its right-rear. The problem is every time the ball-spline shaft extends it can pick up dust or dirt, and when it retracts back into the tailhousing some of that dirt can get pushed past the seal. If you run a ball-spline joint you should pull it apart every week or two to be cleaned and re-greased.
Wash with CareHere's the most painfully obvious statement you will find in the entire magazine: Dirt cars get dirty.
Shocking, yes, but that also means you will spend a lot of time washing your racecar. The easiest way to knock some serious dirt off of your car is with a pressure washer. But some areas of your car are susceptible to high-pressure streams of water and require a little attention before you begin your cleaning regimen.
The best place to begin is with your carburetor. Many racers will simply cap off the top of the carb and have at it, but the linkages need to operate smoothly and should never be hit with high-pressure water. Instead, remove the carburetor and bolt on an engine lift plate-complete with an old gasket-in its place.
Next, turn your attention to the car's electronics. If you run an ignition box, it often will use weatherpack connectors that provide a measure of protection from the elements. You do not want to expose your ignition box to water either, but unplugging and removing the box every week isn't exactly a good idea. Doing that will eventually wear out the seal on the connectors. Instead, put a plastic bag over and/or around your ignition box, as well as the distributor and coil, and tape them up as best you can to seal out the water.
Finally, Breuer recommends spending a few moments going over your fuel system before you turn on the water. Since you have removed the carburetor, make sure all of your fuel lines are capped. Next, make sure your plumbing fittings are tight, and cover any vents on the fuel cell. Any water that manages to make its way into the fuel system can ruin your next night of racing, so it is worthwhile to spend a little extra time to ensure that doesn't happen.