View Full Version : Racing equipment helpful on street cars?

Joel Simmons
05-01-2006, 10:40 PM
Okay, I am like everyone else in the world who is a car nut. If I can make my car go faster or handle better or seem more like the racecars I see at the track...I'm probably going to try and do it.

But, I have a question for those of you who actually do race cars on a regular basis: Do you think there is anyone piece of equipment on your race car(s) that is equally helpful (in any capacity) on street driven cars? This could be anything really. Ignition component, brakes, seats, lights...etc...

I know many people want to have street cars that are as close to racecars as possible, yet retain the driveability and other characteristics of non-race prepped cars.


05-02-2006, 06:14 AM

There is no blind spot on a race car.

Factory mirrors make me go completely freaking insane.https://www.planetsmilies.com/smilies/mad/mad0050.gif

Matthew E. Herd
05-02-2006, 09:30 AM
Hmm ... Well, I think we can check a few things off the list. For instance, high performance brakes are a no-no (poor performance when cold). I'd also say you should avoid lowering the car, etc. This makes it really un-cool over speedbumps (trust me!). I'd stick to minor engine mods (mostly external) and tweak the swaybar (preferrably adjustable). I'm actually also a fan of revalved shocks. They're not as harsh as one might think. I don't know how they'd do with stock springs, but they're far superior to STP filled stock shocks (let me tell you!). Seatbelts might be a good idea, but you really shouldn't have a shoulder belt without a rollbar. This can be a helpful safety item, but Autopower's street bar is a bit on the short side for most people (although the one for later spridgets is pretty nice). Mine has 2" spacers and it still fits under the stock top (just touches). Another problem with roll-bars is that they reduce the amount of passenger room. If you're 6' tall like me, it's definitely a tight fit.

05-02-2006, 12:33 PM
The thing my race car gets more regularly than my street cars is really good maintenance. Very frequent oil and filter changes, valve adjustment (not too tight!), new brake fluid and coolant every year, toe-in and alignment checked regularly. I also "go over" many of the nuts and bolts on the suspension and engine to see if any have gotten loose (and use Lok-Tite or safety wire as appropriate). Mine also gets new rod bearings and various other internal engine parts about every 25 hours or so.
For a street car, good shocks make a huge difference. New king pins and tie-rod ends will improve the steering. A modest size front sway bar (about 5/8") is a good idea too. I dislike rear sway bars in Spridgets. The poly bushings were no big deal (in terms of ride harshness) and I think they give the suspension a more "pinned down" feeling even for street use.
The "sport" sintered matallic brake pads aren't too bad for the street....just don't buy the all-out, carbon-fiber race pads. I have been running the "sport" street pads on my racer with good success. This year, I went for the pure race pads and they don't seem that much better (plus they are $100).
In my car, when it was a street car, I shortened the steering column and added a smaller diameter wheel. I also used a "thinner" seat. This made the car easier to get in and out of.
I would take the radio and speakers and discard them....use and IPod or just listen to the sweet sound of the valves!
I won't own a soft top car without a roll bar.
A small one-wire alternator is a good "plus"....I've had a small Mitusbishi unit in my car for about 7 years with no problem (some racers don't use an alternator, but I run longer enduros where it is really needed).
You can relocate your battery to the trunk for better balance too.
Synthetic oil in the trans will help shifting (in my opinion) and I'd run it in the rear as well (there is some question about using sythetics with brass trans syncros, but I have not seen a problem).

Matthew E. Herd
05-02-2006, 06:48 PM
Ditto the part about synthetics in the transmissions! I switched to using synthetics (it doesn't seem to really matter whether I use RedLine oil or Mobil1 Synthetic gear oil) in the trans. Likewise, I've had no problems with the oil/brass issue. I did destroy a trans, but that was the teeth on the gears. I'm currently running an unrebuilt unit, circa '75, and it works wonderfully with synthetic fluid. My brother's '80 MGB experienced a similar improvement, and it's got 88k on the ticker, nothing ever rebuilt. Shifts are dramatically improved (smoothness, speed, etc). As an aside, GM sells a synthetic trans fluid which is available at the dealer. While it retails for about $16/quart last I checked, it is also some excellent stuff. We use it in my Mom's 1500 Chevy Truck, with excellent results. Since I use it to tow the spridget, I try to make sure its changed every year.

05-03-2006, 02:07 PM
Watch out with synthetic oils - do not use them in an OD trans. Too slippery and the clutch facings burn out.

I have talked to people that do it and get away with it on the street, but in racing with hard shifts at red line, you can trash an OD unit in no time.

Matthew E. Herd
05-03-2006, 09:34 PM
Yes, I was only talking about Spridget stuff (non OD).

Joel Simmons
05-04-2006, 09:49 PM
What additional mirrors have you added on your car?

Nial - I am thinking about putting poly bushings on my car when I go to rebuild the suspension. But, I'm kind of afraid to tear it apart right now. Don't exactly have the greatest workshop at the moment (i.e.- none).

I'm still interested in the seatbelts that could be used in a streetcar. I haven't put in 3 point belts yet, because I really would like to have a 4 or 5 point harness. I know it's a PITA but it "seems" safer.

What about front suspension springs? Has anyone used lowered springs or springs with a higher rating? Just how rough do the 400+ lbs. springs ride? What about lowered the rear of the car with those u-bolts and blocks you can get from VicBrit? Again, it "seems" like lowering the center of gravity might help a bit. As if the cars aren't low enough as it is.


05-05-2006, 08:22 PM
If your present rubber bushing are OK, I'd leave them (until you have a better workshop).
I had the 400 lbs springs and lowered blocks in my Spridget when it was a street car, but I was using mostly for autocross and very little "normal" use. I preferred the 400 lbs springs to the softer ones, but the lowered suspension was a pain around speed bumps.
One of my brothers has a 70 Midget and I've advised him to leave the suspension alone (since he just drives it for little jaunts to the ice cream shop or to car shows).
The 5 point belts in the Summit Racing catalog are hardly more expensive than the 3-point belts. Be sure the shoulder harness mounts are high enough.
I prefer door-mounted mirrors to the fender-mounted units. I think they're easier to use and adjust (but I think the fender mirrors look cooler).

Joel Simmons
05-06-2006, 03:49 AM
Right now I just have a left fender mounted mirror. I think it's actually meant to be mounted on the door, but the PO put it on the fender.

As for the belts, my Sprite has the stock mounting points for the 3-point harness, those two bolts on either side that come up above the wheel well. But, if I had a 5-point harness, where should I mount the other shoulder strap? Same height, just straight back and beneath the location of the useless speakers?

I think I'll wait on the suspension bit for now, although I may do the wheel bearings.


05-07-2006, 12:35 AM
Joel please refer to my post in the "Racing" forum.
Thank you sir,