Post-race Post Mortem
62% of successful race car prep is in the disassembly (you can look it up, thats a fact).
The amount of work that goes on between events on a top-level race team is staggering. People are often shocked to find that there could be up to 40 different team members all working on the car during the weekend and even more back at the shop. The majority of its life a race-car is spent disassembled on shelves. After an event when machines are back home and up in the air, we commence a surgical disassembly. Removing each part is an opportunity to inspect for potential wear or pending failures. So much can be learned by a simple scratch, scuff or dirty spot.
Here are a few examples. This photo shows the anodizing on a front third damper wearing unevenly. This is hard-anodized aluminum and is designed to take a fair amount of abuse. Seeing this wear is an indicator if a potential issue. Under load, the spring sat neatly in its perch but when unloaded over bumps, the spring dropped to the lesser OD and chattered significantly. Not only is it a bummer to tear up a sexy anodized part in such a short time, but if left unattended this vibration would eventually break the other components of this system.
Here is a dirty Wiggins clamp ring. No big deal right? Wipe it clean put it back together! Except this clamp connects two turbo charge pipes and is way past the air filter, so why so much dirt? By following the clues up to the air filter we found that under high speeds the filter was being pushed down significantly, allowing dirty air to leak past the gasketed edges. All this dirt was going past the filter and directly into the turbo vanes which led to loss of power and early turbo failure, all within a 3-hour race. A little dirt goes a long way in a turbo.
So take this into consideration nextime your disassembling or even cleaning your car and equipment. Interview each part as if it has a story to tell. The clues you find could help make the car better and safer, and maybe score a win.