It has been the topic of Dirt Tech numerous times: Dirt track racing is often as much about protecting your car from the elements to ensure that it will finish the race as it is about outright speed.

One area that can be particularly vulnerable is the radiator. Perched at the very front of the car, the radiator is susceptible to rocks, dirt clods, and racecar debris that can be thrown up and puncture the core. Although they may not be able to knock a radiator out with one hit, smaller chunks of junk can also do damage by bending the cooling fins, reducing the radiator's efficiency, and causing the engine to run hotter. And finally, mud and small grains of dirt can clog the radiator, keeping air from flowing through and drastically reducing its ability to keep the engine cool.

To protect the radiator, racers often cut only a minimum number of cooling holes in the front nosepiece-or none at all. Also, to keep from trapping a lot of dirt and mud, dirt cars rarely have a full radiator box or ductwork driving air to the radiator. Instead, you can usually get enough air with only the two sides while leaving the bottom open. And finally, to keep a buildup of dirt and mud from choking off the front of the radiator, you can install or fabricate a "shaker screen." The shaker screen is designed to catch dirt, mud, and other debris before it reaches the front of the radiator. It is mounted loosely in the car so that it either swings or rattles as the car travels around the track. This movement shakes the mud loose so that it falls back to the track and leaves the radiator unclogged.

Together, these measures can help protect your radiator so that you can concentrate on driving and not worry about spilling coolant all over the dirt. We recently stopped by the race shop of Robbie "Frog" Jordan as he neared completion of his MastersBilt-chassied car and watched as he fabricated a radiator box and installed a shaker screen. This is by no means the only way to do it, but this should give you some ideas on building your own radiator box and shaker screen.

6520 US Highway 31 South
IN  47229
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