Fast and Furious at the movie theater is much more fun than acting out the Dukes of Hazard at the track. Enjoying a good movie with popcorn and a soda is fun – disorganization at the track leads to insanity and the increased pressure paints a landscape colored with rash decisions. Advanced technology and the variety of adjustment options, increase the difficulty of recording set up information and track side changes. Speed will be created through pre-planning and organization – Chaos not required.
Good decisions can be made when the air in the pit area is calm and an orchestra of advanced planning moves your crew in perfect harmony. A well guided crew, given the proper organizational tools, will lead you to the winners circle by following a pre-rehearsed program where each team member performs based on a plan that is implemented with precision.
Staying organized is accomplished through prior planning. Slowing down to go faster is the recommended path and investing the time to build documentation as you go will allow you to quickly pull data for future use. All chassis adjustments have value whether they make the car faster or not. The key is to document information in a displayable fashion with reliable people taking detailed notes every step of the way.
A coordinated organizational plan, born in the shop, sets in motion a productive route that gets your race week started on the right path. Detailing the shop set up gives you a baseline to chart changes made during the hectic pace that is inevitable at the track. Being prepared, in advance, gets you through Tech Inspection and out running laps allowing your team to take full advantage of every practice session.
In the shop, a Chassis Prep Checklist ensures that all projects are complete and all bolts are tight. Maintenance items can be checked off one by one so the entire team can visually see what is complete and the group can focus on the remaining items to be completely ready the second you get to the racetrack.
Luck is when Preparation meets Opportunity
Ray Evernham lived by the mantra that "Luck is when Preparation meets Opportunity". After winning the Brickyard, Ray sent me a brick with the important quote engraved into the brick. The gift was a thank you for being a tiny cog in their championship effort. Ray took the time to thank all that helped their team win and the quotation, etched permanently in red brick, is a daily reminder for me to be prepared on and off the track.
You can Download the JOES Chassis Check List Sheet at the JOES Knowledge Center
For all of my race teams I invoked a shop rule that stated, “If you bolt it on you tighten it up in race ready condition – every time”. Many times crew members simply hang a part on the car and leave it loose because they plan to take it back off or do other work – even then, I require all parts to be wrench tight. It is too easy to forget and too often parts fall off of cars because someone just hung a part in place instead of taking 5 seconds to use a wrench. It takes little time to tighten up race parts – it takes a ton of time to repair damage after parts fall off. Losing a race due to poor shop practices is easily avoidable.
I know the cars I worked on finished every lap because they were always ready to go. I also know that when I was a hired gun, helping other teams, it seemed there was something loose on the car all too often. If you hang it – tighten it. Make tightening parts a hard and fast rule on your team and you will “save” time and save money. A Chassis Prep Sheet will assist in making sure all items are complete and race ready. It pays to place a reliable person “in charge” of the Chassis Prep Sheet.
Keep Detailed Notes
Keeping detailed notes at the shop and at the track will help your team to be ready right out of the box. Detailing all changes, even changes that don't work out, will help your team to build their knowledge base producing more valuable use of practice time.
You can Download the JOES Chassis Set Up Sheet at JOES Knowledge Center
After your car is race ready then bolting in your winning set up is the next priority. A Chassis Set Up Sheet will give you a central location to make notations in the shop that allow you to repeat winning set ups in the future. Done correctly, documenting your set up fully in the shop displays the information for quick review. An organized Chassis Set Up Sheet builds the foundation to grow documentation based on needed track side changes.
Often, in our attempt to find elusive speed, the changes made at the track make the car go slower and sometimes harder to drive – even then it is crucial that changes are documented fully. Over time, the so called adjustment mistakes will clearly display a pattern that allows you and your team to increase your learning curve. Information is always good even when the documentation records negative results.
Be sure to assign a very responsible crew member that you can count on to make notations each time the car hits the track. When a chassis change results in a dramatic improvement it pays to make extensive notes and “flag” such set up victories for quick future reference. Filing your Chassis Set Up Sheets is key as well and it is a giant time saver to have a database of information on file to help prepare your car for a return visit to the same track.
Utilizing a Timing Sheet will provide session lap times that can be quickly reviewed. Often, a car might be blazing fast on lap 1, 2 and 3 but then fall of at the end of a practice session. A short run set up might be great for qualifying and notes will help you to decide. By recording your lap times during each and every session your team can find patterns allowing for discussion and proper decision making. Your Timing Sheet can be stapled to your Chassis Set Up Sheet at the end of a run so you can analyze the changes made and couple the set up information with real time speed information.
You can Download the JOES Timing Sheet at JOES Knowledge Center
In addition to lap times, tire temperature information will allow your team to fill the set up informational database with a complete package of repeatable documentation. Tire Temp Sheets expand your information package - viewed in conjunction with your Chassis Set Up Sheet and your Lap Time Sheets gives your team planning tools to consistently find more speed. Once found, your speed secrets should be written down each and every time in a common format that allows for a sustainable documentation process.
Tire Sheets and accurate tire temps
Tire Sheets and accurate tire temps are one of the few "Crystal balls" found in racing. A balanced set up can be obtained by tracking tire temps and making adjustments to find the set up that utilizes all four tires to their maximum capability.
You can Download the JOES Tire Sheet at JOES Knowledge Center
Quality documentation provides a focused format resulting in team discussions that are based on history, facts and real world experience. Writing down your set ups and track side changes, with support of Timing Sheets and Tire Sheets, saves time. The small investment in time for documentation is more efficient in the long run. Creating documentation in real time and “as you go” is the only way. Trying to re-create documentation at a later date leads to errors as our memories fail and important details are forever lost. Slow down to go fast and cultivate the discipline to “construct” your documentation as you go. Waiting until later makes the documentation process a chore – doing it now becomes a good habit that is a required element that fits naturally into your regime allowing for sustainable positive action.
Driver feedback should always be recorded and be a vital component of your documentation process. Make driver feedback notations and record the changes made to the car before it goes out on the track for the next practice session. Staple together your Chassis Set Up Sheet, Timing Sheet and Tire Sheet from each session and you will have instant access to vital information when you need it most.
Over time, your library of available recorded information will become the go to resource and you will establish your own baselines and rule sets. When an “ah ha” moment occurs due to a successful adjustment, be sure to flag those sheets and spend extra time documenting driver feedback. You never know what the future holds and a successful fix to a chassis handling problem today may apply to another track or circumstance. The best documentation evolves with your team and becomes a pivotal tool that participates in the ongoing growth of your orchestrated racing program.
- Car Prep Checklist joes_car_prep_checklist_copy1.pdf
- Chassis Sheets joes_chassis_sheets.pdf
- Tire Sheets joes_tire_sheets_copy2.pdf
- Lap Times lap_time_sheets_copy1.pdf
Go Forward – Move Ahead
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