In this video I discuss the importance of prioritizing modifications to your vehicle. You’ll want to start with the mods that will yield the highest potential gains – and I can show you how.
Prioritizing Modifications – Video Transcript
Hey everybody Matt Covert here again from howtobecomearacecardriver.com and in this video we’re going to talk about prioritizing the modifications of your car – prioritizing modifications. And I think I’m going to talk about this from a perspective of Street category. That’s what I race and this is what I use and it makes a lot of sense. And I’m going to explain it to you right now. Let’s help into it.
Number one – and by the way there are four. Number one – driver improvement. And you probably knew I was going to say this didn’t you? This is – we’ll just start off by saying – this is one of the cheapest things you can do, depending on how you do it. If you’re going to run out and go to an expensive racing school then, yeah, probably not this one. But I am a firm believer, and you probably know this about me, of bootstraping and learning everything you need on your own. I think that going to a racing school is really cool if you can afford it and still have money afterward to go race. But if you don’t that’s OK too! Because I think you can do it without that. I don’t think big racing schools are necessary. So I’m going to put cheapest because I think it is a viable option, OK?
Driver improvement yields the most potential. I’m going to tell you a little story. Well I could tell you a thousand stories. I race with a lot of guys who always throw new parts on their car all the time because they think it will make them faster. And it will. Only because – well, faster parts, faster car. But the end result is really just a poor driver in a slightly faster vehicle. Alright?
And this is important – driver improvement is important – because it applies to any car that you drive. If someone takes those expensive parts back off their car their lap times are probably going to drop back down and that’s not any type of real gain in skill. And skill is what we’re going for here. So this yields the biggest room – or yields the biggest gains as far as dropping your lap times go.
Number two. Tires. I’ve been talking to a lot of guys lately who have been reaching out through my website, howtobecomearacecardriver.com. I love meeting new people. Introduce yourself to me if you want to. And we talk a lot about what people are doing for modifications and a lot of people don’t do tires and I don’t know why because this is the second best thing you can do for a car, especially in Street class.
They typically yield one to two seconds. Whoops, let me change that. One to two seconds on a typical autocross track. Which really doesn’t seem like a lot unless you’re really into the sport and you understand that winning or losing is somewhere in the tenth of a second range. So this is a huge big deal. This is ten to twenty times that difference from first or second place. One to two seconds easily separates first and tenth place in autocross. And tires are a huge, huge advantage if you’re racing against someone who hasn’t done any type of performance tire upgrade.
That being said, in the Street class, currently, you’ll want to use the lowest UTQC – oops – UTQC tread rating on a tire. Which is Street right now is 200. And this is just a measurement of how soft a tire is. The softer a tire is, the stickier it is and the more grip it will give you when you’re out on the racetrack. This is really important, OK?
When you’re selecting a tire – by the way I went with the Dunlops, and I’ll explain why in a second. And I’m going with them for the second year. When you’re selecting a tire – and I normally don’t hear people talking about this so I’m including it. Tons of free information, I love it. You want to find a tire that has the widest treat for the available – the rim that you’re going to be using. I use a seven inch wheel on my Subaru BRZ. OK? And this is a little bit more important than section width. And people are always talking about section width because when you’re talking about tires, you’re talking about – tire tire sizes are usually in this format. Say you have a 225/45R17. This is the section – well this is technically the aspect ratio, and this has to do with section width. Alright?
This is less important than tread width, I think. Because everything was raving about the Potenza RE-71r, which apparently is an amazing tire. I haven’t used it. It’s got good reviews but when you look at the sizes available for my vehicle, the Dunlop tire has an eight point two inch wide tread width. But the Potenza only has seven point six, OK? And that’s a big difference. That’s a point six inch difference in width across the tire – across the tire tread. And that ends up being almost a nine percent difference, which is a big deal to me.
I think it’s definitely worth going with the Dunlops on that basis alone because they’re both amazing tires. And for someone else in a different situation with a different rim width, this might not apply. The tread width might be different, I haven’t researched it for that. But for me that’s a huge difference. And I’m going with the Dunlops again. So tires, you definitely want to get your tread width. And this information is all available in the specs section, say on Tire Rack. And a lot of people don’t bother looking at that, but you should.
Let’s move on to tire pressures. So once you have great tires you want to maximize the contact patch. Contact patch. And we’ve talked about this in almost every video because it’s so important. Contact patch is probably the number one priority for suspension and tire upgrades. Really want to maximize that. Tire pressures are going to give you the best tire shape and that’s what will actually help you maximize contact patch.
And you can do this by monitoring your tire temperatures after every single run. And nobody does this, I’m the only person out there doing this in my region anyway. Getting your tire pressures correct – perfectly correct – using scientific data, using tire temps. And there’s a great video about this which I’m going to link to. I love sharing this because it did a huge huge number on my racing program when I started using it. And this is a big deal. If you’re not getting your tire pressures right then having awesome tires doesn’t really matter. So they kind of go hand in hand, you have to have them both right.
Number four. Balance the car. A lot of cars have a tendency to either understeer or oversteer right out of the factory. Mine understeers and I had to balance the car. And what you’re shooting for is neutrality in your car. You don’t want it to either understeer or oversteer. Or you can make it swing one way or the other depending on your driving style. But I like a car that’s pretty neutral. And there’s a great video on what a neutral car actually is so I”ll link to that as well so you can see it.
We can do this by using the same data that we used to get the tire pressures right. From taking tire temperatures. That data is the same data that you can use to get your car balanced. And what you’re shooting for is having four tire temps that are really close. Because when they’re all really close it means that all four tires are doing the same amount of work. If the front tires are hotter than the rear, that means your car is understeering. And if the rear tires are hotter it means your car is oversteering.
And there’s a video about this too, which I’ll link to. I love all the sharing all this information, it’s so much fun for me. Typically you can balance a car, once you take temperatures and understand which way you need to go, you can usually balance a car with one sway bar. And that’s what I’ve done. My car handles really well. And a neutral handling car is amazing. It rotates well into the corners, it’s just super balanced, easier to control, easy to predict. And that’s going to yield the most amount of speed for you. OK?
So I think this is probably the best way to prioritizing modifications, one through four. Driver improvement, get awesome tires, get your tire pressures right, and then balance the car. And it’s also one of the cheapest ways to do it. You don’t have to spend tons of money on, you know, crazy brake parts and all the other stuff. You can, but I wouldn’t recommend doing any of those things until you have these four things done first.
And that is my firm opinion, that’s what I do, and that’s why I’m preaching it. If haven’t subscribed to the YouTube channel, why haven’t you? These videos are super cool, we’re coming out with new ones all the time, and I just want to share everything I’m doing with you. So I’m going to put a link on the screen right there for you to go and subscribe to it. You’ll never miss another video. And I’ll be back soon with another free video from howtobecomearacecardriver.com.