Perhaps the best improvements...
Perhaps the best improvements in thread lockers are the gel and stick forms. They make using the chemicals much easier on race day because they stay put and don't drip down your arm.
Thread locker: Loctite and Permatex are the names most racers think of when reaching for a thread locker.
Permatex has recently introduced thread locker in a gel form. As the name implies, the gel goes on much thicker than the traditional liquid, which makes it well suited for use on Saturday night, when you are under the car, holding a mini flashlight between your teeth, a wrench in one hand, and a bolt in the other.
Loctite has come up with its own easy-to-use variation. It's a thread locker in stick form. On bolts, all you do is roll the threaded portion in the compound and assemble.
The one you pick depends on which company you prefer.
Mark Lane uses thread locker...
Mark Lane uses thread locker on the suspension pieces of a Modified at Sunset Speedway in Oregon.
Or you might opt for one of each brand and use it depending on which seems most appropriate for your application.
Penetrating oil: There are as many products on the market as there are manufacturers, so there are a variety of options.
My personal pick is PB Blaster. I have no idea what is in the stuff, but it seems to work better and faster than anything else I've tried-and I've tried just about every brand on the market.
I recommended it to a friend who ran an auto wrecking yard (where stuff has to come apart in one piece if it is to be of any value) and after the first can, he ordered it by the case.
Radiator sealant: I was never a fan of this kind of stuff until I had to use it. The race car I was crewing on developed a pinhole where the filler neck was welded to it, and we simply didn't have enough time to remove it and do a proper repair.
The trackside parts supplier recommended a stop-leak, so we dumped half a bottle into the system and hoped for the best. Thirty minutes later the car came off the track, the outside of the radiator was bone dry, and it hadn't lost a drop of water.
I've since discovered that a number of racers add a bottle of Barr's or Justice Brothers stop-leak into their systems simply to cure minor leaks that come from dirt and debris being thrown up into the core. It's probably a good idea if you race on dirt and plan to finish the race.
Carb/brake cleaner: This is one of those things you probably already carry. Few racers can make it through a night without having to clean off something before working on it.
There are two different formulas for two different applications. Carb cleaner is made especially for the alloys used in carbs and intake manifolds. Brake cleaner is designed for the type of gunk that fills up around shoes and pads. While each one will work on the other type of part, it's best to use each one on what it was designed to clean.
Carb cleaner also removes excess fuel deposits from fouled spark plugs and encourages them to fire again.
Don't even think about using either one of them without safety glasses and nitryl gloves.
Starting fluid: I've seen guys do all sorts of things to get a reluctant engine to fire up, from dribbling gas to shooting carb cleaner in the air cleaner intake. None of them are good ideas, and they won't work as well as conventional starting fluid.
Pyroil starting fluid, manufactured by Valvoline, may be the best available. If your engine won't fire up on this stuff, your problem isn't lack of fuel.
Flat-tire fix: There's a limit to how good this stuff is, so if your competition ran a bumper through your left front in Turn 3, don't expect magic in a can to get you back onto the track.
However, if your wheel has been kissed a bit and the sealing rim has become a tad bent, or if you ran over a piece of debris on the track and have a tiny leak in your Street Stock radial, this stuff may save the day.
Valvoline and Radiator Specialty Company/Gunk make a long line of tire sealers, along with other products familiar to do-it-yourself racers.
Be sure to read the directions. You may have to put your leaking front tire on the rear and run the engine a bit just to get the goo to circulate and seal the hole.
It seems like every car has...
It seems like every car has a screw, nut, or bolt that falls in the grass at least twice before you get it where it belongs. Apply a bit of clear silicone to the screw head and wait for it to set up; it will stay in place.
Clear silicone: It's the same stuff you use to seal seams around bathtubs, sinks, and showers. It dries quickly, provides a waterproof seal, and comes in handy for a variety of uses.
Got a sheetmetal screw that keeps coming loose? A bit of silicone on the threads is almost guaranteed to keep it in place. It can also be used on the top of those tiny brass screws and nuts on electrical connectors or on the backside of dashboard gauges.
Who hasn't been frustrated with a nut that keeps falling out of a socket, or a screwhole that is so remote that it is almost impossible to get the screw where it belongs? You can put a dab of clear silicone on the head of the screw (or on the edge of the nut) and let it set up for a few minutes. The silicone will hold the screw or nut in place until you can get it lined up and properly positioned.
While silicone isn't as good as thread locker, it can be a quick fix for a non-stressed bolt that keeps backing out of a hole.
I use it around the rubber boots on the distributor cap. Push the plug wire into the cap. Then, before you slide the boot into place, skim the inside with clear silicone. It helps keep everything where it belongs, provides an extra layer of insulation, and makes the wire connection virtually waterproof.