Customize Your Car for the Track
Whether you’re adding in an amplifier for your speakers or dropping your suspension to a new low, the number of ways you can modify your car is only limited by your creativity. However, the trend in reinventing cars into racers has been on the incline for a while now. Of course, certain cars (and, yes, certain drivers) are better equipped for the challenges of racing than others. Obviously, the customizations we discuss below pertain to cars that can accommodate the modifications necessary to become a racer. Likewise, the driver should know a thing or two about racing because nobody wants to look like a poseur behind the wheel. If your car and your experience fit the criteria, let’s have a look at how you can customize your car for the track.
Speed I. Aerodynamics
When converting your car into a racer, increasing your speed is arguably the most important factor but definitely the most exciting factor. Luckily, there are a ton of ways to amplify your car’s speed, so if one method won’t work for your car’s model, there are other options. Wings, spoilers, and other aerodynamic upgrades seem like a simple place to start but you’ll really need to understand the aerodynamics of your car to strategize these properly. You’ll already need some speed behind you to get any use out of aerodynamic modifications so they’re not usually the best place to start if you’re just beginning the process of converting your car to a racer.
Speed II. Engine Mods
Instead, you may want to look at engine modifications. Sure, it’s a pricier starting point but it can also yield the most dramatic improvements. If you really want to feel the difference and your car can accommodate it, upgrading the engine itself to the best engine model you can afford will give you a hell of a starting point. If you don’t want a completely new engine, electronic control unit (ECU) tuning can be an easy way to revitalize your current engine if your ECU techs know what they’re doing. The further you take the electronic tweaking, the more likely your need to do some physical upgrades as well, so keep that in mind. If you’re fortunate enough to have a naturally aspirated engine, investing in a turbocharger or supercharger can also contribute to giving you the winning edge.
Speed III: Odds and Ends
A lot of gearheads new to the game like to get flashy aftermarket exhaust mods that make a big sound but don’t really do a whole lot. If you’re in the race to win it, consider an exhaust upgrade more for the kick in horsepower than the sound. It’s easy to overlook, but installing a short throw shifter can also shave some time off your race. All that shifting adds up!
Increasing speed may be fun but let’s not forget that safety is also paramount. If you’re serious about racing, you can also be serious about surviving by investing in a reliable roll cage. A five-point racing harness combined with gripping seats is also a must for staying in control when hugging those tight turns. You should also be shelling out for the best brakes you can possibly afford. A reliable brake system means that you can hit the brakes later at higher speeds with less danger while improving your race time.
If you’ve been around the track even once, you’ll recognize how important control is to your performance. Investing in a steering wheel designed specifically for racing is a great place to start improving your car’s control. A lot of this will boil down to personal preference as racing steering wheels come in a variety of designs and textures. You’ll also want to drop as much as you can afford on tires; or more specifically a combination of tires and wheels. Getting your wheels sorted out will cut the unsprung weight while a good set of racing tires will grip the track, lending to improved braking, acceleration, and overall control. Investing in a sports pedal will offer a smoother ride as well.
You’ll notice a lot of these modifications bleed into one another. For example, improved brakes give you more control, just as they improve your safety. You’ll need to apply a bit of strategy when deciding how to best customize your car for racing but that’s part of the fun of aftermarket modifications. Again, most of these customizations aren’t going to really fly and, in a worst case scenario, could even ruin your car if you’re not properly preparing an accommodating model for racing. When in doubt, ask your mechanic!