The Top 5 Things to Check Before Every Race Season (That Everyone Forgets)

The Top 5 Things to Check Before Every Race Season (That Everyone Forgets)

“Listen now, every year we see it. People getting too excited to jump on the track that they forget the basics and parts that can result in the difference between first and fifth place,” says Jason Enders, President of RE Suspension. Race season is right around the corner and its time to start preparing your car for the track. Here are the top 5 things to check before you hit the track this season.

Don’t Forget to Service or Replace Your Shocks

Why do you even need shocks?

Shocks dampen the movement between the chassis and the wheels and the wheels to the road. In circle track applications, we can utilize the shocks to help maintain a consistent dynamic platform.

With the setups that we are currently running on asphalt cars, the bleed curves that we run in our setups are very critical. As seals, piston bands and o-rings wear out, our bleed curve changes or gets weaker. When this happens, the dynamic platform (or aero platform depending on the situation) that we are trying to maintain changes because the shocks do not have the same amount of rebound that they did when they were new or serviced.

“Each track is different on how your shocks need to be valved. Every week we receive shocks from across the nation to help teams appropriately adjust for the race ahead,” says Donny Markham, Technician at RE Suspension. He continues, “Dirt track cars have a different problem. Because of the elements that this type of racing sees, servicing your shocks is more crucial than ever.”

The velocities that these dampers see as well as all the dirt, sand and grit that gets passed by the seals make the service intervals shorter. Not only do we look at all the seals, o-rings and wear bands, but we also pay very close attention to the bushings inside the seal heads of the shocks. Because dirt cars typically see a lot of dynamic shock travel, this can at times produce what we call side loading. This happens when the shaft of the shock doesn’t travel on the same axis as the body. When this happens, bushings wear out. When that happens, excessive wear occurs. 


Have Your Springs Tested and Graphed 

Springs are something that a lot of racers overlook. Ever had a bad handling race car that you couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it? There is a good chance that you could be chasing a spring that has taken a set or collapsed.

When springs are run in the last 10-15% of their available travel, we run the risk of overstressing the spring resulting in them taking a set. Obviously, crashes can produce the same effect.

We recommend that racers send in their springs once a year, usually over the offseason, and have their springs dyno tested. After you have all of your springs tested, you will receive the graph, rate, travel and free length of every spring. We will help you point out which springs have taken a set and need to be replaced.

Why do you even need specialized shocks?

Springs and shocks have to work together. Springs absorb the energy and shocks control the release of that energy. Springs assist in exploiting power to the wheels, resulting is more speed, drivability (control) and consistency.


Save Your Car with Bump Stops

racing bump stops

Bump stops have become the standard in most forms of circle track racing, both dirt and asphalt. We utilize bump stops to help us maintain a smaller dynamic platform window for the car. We can also use them to help us manipulate wheel loads.


“Bump stops often are overlooked when guys’ maintenance their car. When running foam or polyurethane style stops, you need to pay attention to the free height of the stop. If the free height has changed more than .125”, you need to replace the bump stop. This applies to running bump springs as well,” says Donny.




Tools to Help You Win at the Track

You are at the track and need to make some final adjustments, only to realize you are missing the tool you need. Here are three tools we recommend you have ready before every race season.

1)    Inflation Unit

We recommend that the air pressure in your shocks be checked before every race. Remember to always check the pressure with the damper fully extended.


2)    Nitrogen Tank

Tired of dragging air hoses all over pit road to adjust air pressure in your tires and/or shocks? Grab one of our hand held nitrogen tanks.


3)    Travel Indicator

Knowing your shock travels are a crucial part of tuning your race car. When running bump stops, the old “zip tie on the shock shaft” trick doesn’t work anymore. Running an external travel indicator allows you to check the max travel of the car without the bump stop interfering. It also makes checking the travel way easier.


The Forgotten Step, Cleaning and Lubrication

Cleaning your shocks can help prevent damage by removing any debris and dirt from the track. It is important when you are cleaning parts of your suspension, including you shocks, that you only use cleaners specifically made for suspension parts. Using products such as WD-40 can breakdown O-rings and other seal materials. We use Maxima Suspension Clean and Speedsolv in our shop.




“Maintenance and care isn’t something you should do just during the offseason. While we consider these the top 5 things to check before every season, you should really add this to your checklist before every race as shocks, springs, bump stops and cleaning can all extremely impact your handling characteristics,” says Jason. “At RE Suspension, we are the experts in racing suspension. If you are looking for bump stops or need your shocks serviced, or just need to new set of shocks, we can help!