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						War Horse A10

The Warhorse

By Richard Migliori 

Photos by Carl Rydquist and Steve Temple

The old saying, “Competition improves the breed” not only applies in a general way, but also to an individual competitor. In this case, my Factory Five GTM that’s been racing for more than a decade. After winning four championships in endurance events, one championship in sprints, and one championship in the USTCC Touring Car GT class, it has a lot of hard-fought experience to share. (Including coming back from a nearly disastrous fire that burned up 70 percent of the car!) Anyone thinking about jumping into the fray on a road course can pick up a few tips about race prep from our campaigning of this car. To see what it takes to be a successful racer, here’s a punch list of pointers:

The Plan

Writing down your strategy and tactics will save you thousands of dollars out of the gate. Putting pen to paper makes it much more likely to achieve your competition goals. Your checklist should include your reason(s) to race — therapy, competition, love of the sport, whatever.

Along with that, be sure a budget is in place. Shop for good deals, on both new and used equipment. The race world is full of very generous and supportive people. Find a successful team and become a part of it to learn how to win. Surround yourself with winners. Find a class that most suits your need for speed.

Pay Close Attention

A truism to keep in mind is that “Luck favors the prepared.” So keep an eye on parts that time out or require a regular maintenance replacement. For example, clean and service your air cleaner every time the car races. Also, nut and bolt the car, as lots of vibration occurs during a short time on the track. Safety wire as much as you can where the possibility of vibration is present. Visually inspect everything that can possibly leak. Closely monitor exhaust leaks/header flanges, as they do get distorted, and gaskets do get fatigued. Also, a body maintenance program is important, as you may find yourself doing a presentation for a sponsor in short notice. A clean car is an intimidating car.

Rubber Match

Check out who is using what kind of tires. Different brands last longer than others, while some are more consistent. You can even get tires (free!) from the top teams that run them for a short time and still have good life in them. Also, carefully watch your tire wear, and keep a log of heat temps/air pressures, as they will tell you a lot about your chassis setup.

Brake Package

Going faster isn’t everything. Even slower cars win with better brakes. Shop for a good used brake package, and save some time and money.

Crate Engines

They are reliable, as millions are spent in research. They are very affordable, too, and can be resold. (My first LS1 motor had 70 races on it with only one head service and valve spring change every season. And I later sold it for half of what I paid.)

Snap Pics

Take lots of photos of your car in action. This visual documentation provides a timeline of the car’s attitude and reaction to changes you make. (Some 3,000 photos were taken of our car during the 25 Hours race). Never allow the car to go out with the same setup. Get comfortable changing stuff that will improve performance and fun. If you are finishing 10th and don’t change anything, you will always finish 10th. Use this platform as a challenge to better yourself every time out on the track. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to solve your challenges.

Weight Issues

Scale the car before every race. You can use bathroom scales for smaller cars, or find someone at the track that will let you visit them at their shop to help you out. Maintain a cross weight (diagonal) of 50 percent, which conditions the car to be neutral, meaning the car will be balanced in both right- and left-hand turns. If the cross weight isn’t balanced, the car will turn better in one direction than it does in the other. Same for front and rear wheel alignment. This makes the car easy and fun to drive at performance speeds.

Social Networking

Know your competition, introduce yourself. Someday you may need a favor and they will be the first to help. And whether you win or lose, leave the coliseum with a winning attitude. It will pay dividends in the future. Never position yourself to underperform and not deliver. You never know who is watching, such as potential sponsors or contributors. Greet all people that come by your pit area to see or ask about your car. Somebody always knows somebody that could be an important contact. Volunteers for your team can be your biggest asset. Be a leader. Have a “to-do” list available. When they come to work make sure you have something at every level to do. They will be your friend for life!

Cockpit Accommodations

Driver comfort builds confidence and makes for a great driving experience at any speed. A couple of driver comforts we use are a cool suit and helmet fresh-air blower. Also, thoroughly seal the cockpit with an effective heat/sound material (such as from QuietRide Solutions, as shown in the following feature). This application will minimize driver distraction and fatigue, and improve performance.

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