Yesterday was a day set aside to do track inspections at Performance Chassis where I work during the week. Track inspections are a necessity for those that want to participate in HPDE (High Performance Driving Education) or Time Trials at many of the road courses in this part of the country.
I arrived a half hour early to empty out the garage bays and blow the leaves out that the wind had deposited the day before. There is a bit of a wind tunnel between the buildings that seems to cause every leaf in the neighborhood to blow into our garage bays.
The first cars arrived, some on trailers and some driven in. We had several members of Tar Heel Sports Car Club (THSCC) to assist with the process of checking the mechanical condition of all the cars that wanted to be inspected for track use.
The check list is pretty straight forward, filled with things that everyone should check prior to going on track. Battery hold down, wheel bearings play, ball joint and tie rod end condition, etc. All the items are on a check off sheet available on the THSCC web site.
Probably one of the more important things checked is the age of the brake fluid. This is critical for a car that will be subjected to the rigors of the track. Pad thickness as well, of course.
By noon we had had several cars checked out and passed. That included their windshield sticker that would be inspected prior to any events this year. We also checked their helmets to make certain that they were at least SA2000 certified. In another year they will have to be SA2005 as a minimum. Motorcycle helmets are not allowed as they do not adhere to the standards required for use in a car.
One of the more interesting cars that were tech inspected was a Nissan GT-R. Yes, it was very impressive and the owner enjoyed seeing it up on the lift where he could inspect the underside. I was impressed, too. While it was not as smoothly covered as a Corvette or Ferrari, it obviously had a lot of work done to ensure the underside adhered to aerodynamic demands. Only a small center section was open, the rest was covered with carefully formed panels interrupted by specifically chosen ducts. The real interesting thing for me was to see how power was transferred to create this all wheel drive car. Since the engine is mounted longitudinal, a torque tube sent power to the rear transaxle and a driveshaft then sent power to a differential for the front wheels. Quite a feat of engineering, I must say.
It was an interesting day where we all got to look at Porsche, Honda, BMW, Mazda, and other makes of cars in the most intimate inspections. It gave one a chance to really compare the different engineering approaches taken in the design and execution.
There will be another inspection day in two weeks. I can hardly wait.