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Racers Bulletin

Please be sure you have reviewed the Latest rule book for any changes and verified you are in compliance with the current safety requirements. Rule changes are very specific and need to be noted. Do your homework! Check your S.F.I tags. There is no excuse for not knowing what the specific safety requirements are for your class.
If you are seriously planning on attempting to break a record this year, spend some quality time objectively with your vehicle and the rule book section on your class to assure you can meet the class requirements and are not stretching the interpretation of a unique requirement of the class. Review both the general category requirements and the specific class requirements for compliance. Any areas that could be open for interpretation should be reviewed with technical inspection personnel for the category for an interpretation prior to getting into impound. Also, be sure to review the annual changes (noted in bold type) in the general and technical sections (I - IV) of the rule book as they apply to all vehicles in most cases.

What Tech Inspection Isn't!

Hello from the tech inspection tent.

While it's still a ways to racing season, I wanted to visit with you racers and designers. This time I won't bore you with mundane stuff like throttle return springs and fuel tank vents. I would like to address another subject that keeps coming up. That is; What really goes on during Tech inspection regarding the technicalities of being legal to establish a record in a particular class. There seems to be a common misconception about the part that taking a car through tech inspection inspects a car with regard to its compliance with class body rules. What I'm talking about here are things like spoilers vs. wings, and what is an air dam, what constitutes a radiator and it's location, original vs. replacement interior panels, the definition of gutting, and the fine line of difference between belly pans and step pans.
In NASCAR, all these things and a zillion others are inspected to a fare-thee-well. Those NASCAR inspectors have a gauge for everything, roofline, spoilers, air dam, intake manifold. They probably have a go/no-go gauge for the drivers shoe size. Their rule book has to be the size of the greater Los Angeles phone directory.
Well, the good news is, We aren't NASCAR. We don't have a bunch of gauges and templates to poke around with when we inspect your racecar.
Let's discuss what we don't check in the inspection tent. We don't pick your class designation. You pick what class you're going to compete in. Whatever class you say you're in is O.K. with me. The rulebook states (Section I-2) "It is the responsibility of the owner and/or driver to enter a vehicle in its proper class." Lets clear up this misconception, the tech inspectors WILL NOT reclassify your car. The rulebook states (Section I-2) "the contest board will NOT reclassify a vehicle if the vehicle is entered in the wrong class." Tech inspectors may on occasion venture an unsolicited opinion about the proper class for a vehicle, but it's an opinion, and you don't need to give my opinion any more weight than my wife does.
However, if you show up with what looks to be a 300-MPH streamliner and try to sneak it through tech as a Production class vehicle, tech will want to talk to you. Not to reclassify your car but to inform you that because it looks to us like it's a high speed car, that it will be inspected to the higher SAFETY standards required for the class we perceive it to be. It is our responsibility to ensure that a vehicle has adequate safety equipment for the speeds it seems capable of, but it is not our responsibility to convince you of what class you should be running in.
So, the logical question is what is covered in Tech inspection?
Tech inspection is actually, a rigorous SAFETY Equipment Compliance Inspection. The tech inspector has a checklist, covering approximately 56 items to be inspected, each of which is A SAFETY ITEM. The only thing we look for concerning roll cage/rollbar is the Chassis Identification Number Sticker, which must match the logbook for the vehicle. New vehicles are issued a Chassis Identification Number Sticker after the new chassis is inspected by a group of well seasoned, experienced inspectors. At a USFRA event, NEW Vehicle Chassis and Roll cage are inspected by the Chief Inspector, the SCTA representative at the meet, and at least 2 line inspectors. New vehicles do get a rigorous inspection, but it is a Safety Compliance Inspection, not a class inspection. Once a chassis sticker has been issued, the line inspector will check that Chassis Identification Number Sticker and your LOGBOOK match and then confine chassis inspection to looking for newly developed problems, like cracked or broken welds, recent modifications, signs of damage and the like.
So if the tech inspectors aren't checking for illegal spoilers and watching to be sure you're in the proper class, it must be pretty easy to sneak something by, right? Well, it is up to a point, and then things get sticky.
This class compliance stuff is all handled by a really tough, picky, fussy, no nonsense bunch of guys- You and your fellow racers!
The way this works is usually like this. Some racer builds himself a racecar, and in trying to build that better mousetrap, ventures into one of the many gray areas in the rules book. Everything goes along fine racing and improving and learning, maybe for years. Then comes that fine day that he exceeds the existing class records and stands tall and smiling in Impound. In the midst of what should be his reward for hard work and creative thinking, someone (a fellow racer) follows the procedures outlined in the Rulebook (Section I-9) and files a written PROTEST. Instant Bummer! But there hadn't been a reason to protest it up till then. Then begins the process of examining the offending detail, and you trying to come up with written justification and defense of the protested feature, and all the work and pain which that entails. One defense that WON'T work is to say, "It passed Tech Inspection O.K." It's probably just me, but it seems I have observed, that the more liberally a guy interprets the rules for his own car, the more narrowly he reads the same rule when looking at the car that just broke his record.
I guess the point I'm trying to make here is this, when you show up at the Inspection Tent, don't worry about the inspectors picking on your racecar about illegal spoilers or missing doorpanels. We're gonna be tough and thorough in the safety equipment department, but this class stuff doesn't have a checkoff line on the inspection sheet. We have our hands full checking fire suppression systems, throttle return springs, helmets, and lug nuts - basic safety equipment. If we do mention that something we see doesn't look legal for your class, remember we are expressing our opinion, which we may not get to do at home. Many of the owners/drivers appreciate our perspective on what is class legal, some don't. If you are one that doesn't want to hear it, just tell us that you know the rules and are not concerned about some little old protest. The tech inspector's concern and authority only goes far enough to ensure that you arrive safely in impound to answer that protest. As long as your car meets or exceeds those 56 SAFETY ITEMS on our checklist, we're the least of your problems.

How to Avoid Tech Inspection Blues

Yep, you guessed it, I am the dreaded Tech Inspector. I am the one who will tell you that after all those late nights in a cold shop working diligently to get ready, after hauling yourself, your car, tarps, tires, tools, spares, a thousand miles (at least) through the snarl of urban traffic and then through the miles of deserted desert, that unless you can find or fix this or that detail, you did it all for nothing, can't let you run like that. Yeah, that's me.
I do understand that when you're standing there in the blazing sun, so far from home and your local parts store, listening to me quote scripture from the rulebook and nit-pick at the one little thing on your car that was over looked in the rush to get ready, that you must wonder why the #&%! #@ I don't want you to race. Damn inspectors anyway!
So, while the Salt flats are underwater, and its still months till racetime, and the sun isn't roasting you like an ant under a magnifying glass, lets take a calm moment to talk about this Tech Inspection thing.
First of all, I want you to know- I DO want YOU to race! Truth be told, I am your biggest fan, and most ardent supporter. I spend my vacation working at the World of Speed each year, cause I love this last living form of amateur racing. I respect the hundreds of hours of planning and fabricating that goes in to each of these incredible vehicles. I also realize that you builders/drivers/designers/owners are doing some of the most creative and innovative design work to be found anywhere today.
That said, is it that hard to remember throttle return springs? Simple as it seems, that is the most common problem I see on cars passing through Tech Inspection. Not only is it common to see engines with out the required two (2) return springs, but the book clearly states "attached directly to the throttle shaft." Yet, I see throttle return springs separated from the throttle shaft they are supposed to close by multiple shafts, pivots, rod ends, heim joints, and couplings. I know that these arrangements function adequately in the pits and can be demonstrated to work with the engine off in the Inspection Tent, but what about when the vibration of 8,000 RPM and 200 MPH shake that linkage like a dog shaking a squeaky toy? I know where you're going when you leave Tech Inspection, and I know how you drive. I need to know that even if the worst happens, and your linkage binds up or comes undone, (it does happen) that at least the throttles WILL close and give you a decent chance to drive your way out of trouble. Every year I send someone off searching in Wendover for throttle return springs; don't let this happen to you. The devil is in the details.
Another point of contention often seen in inspection are gaps and holes in the firewall. I stick my head under the dash and if I can see the sun shining through, it's a problem. When you have an under hood problem that results in fire, the 200 MPH breeze under your hood turns a small fire into a blowtorch, headed straight for you. It can be very difficult to find the proper materials to seal up firewall leaks at the Salt Flats, wouldn't it be easier to stick your head under the dash while your still at home in the shop? You know I'm gonna do it at the Salt. Again, I'm just hoping to give you an opportunity to drive your way out of trouble, without that pesky blowtorch roasting your tootsies every time you try to use the brakes.
While we're on the subject of fire protection, let's talk about your driving suit requirements. When I inspect your personal safety equipment, Flamesuit, Gloves, Boots, Helmets, Safety Harness, Rollbar padding, etc. I am not looking to critique your choice of color, or which manufacturer you chose to buy from, or whether it's shiny new or funky dirty with lots of use, I am looking for the SFI tags. That is what I need. Without it I can't tell ski gloves from the finest Nomex gloves made. I'm not the mattress police, (insert "do not remove this tag" joke here) but what I need to see is the manufacturers certification that the item meets a specific SFI standard. With out the tag, I can't tell.
Probably the next most common item of concern flagged in the Safety Inspection process is the issue of shielding the fuel line where it passes through the plane of the flywheel. This seems straightforward enough, but every year we have someone try to insist that the stainless braid covering their fuel line is adequate to meet the requirement. The book specifies "fuel lines in the area of the clutch and flywheel, shall be run through heavy steel tubing ". Does that sound like braided hose to you?
The last common item that causes problems is the venting of the fuel tank. The '99 rules have added a line to clarify this which reads, "all fuel tanks shall be provisioned to eliminate spillage in the event of a rollover." There are a couple of different ways to accomplish this, how you choose to deal with it is up to you. But you must address the issue. Make the unthinkable survivable!
These five items probably comprise 80% of the problems we see in Tech Inspection. They are seen on veteran vehicles as well as new. They are all very basic safety issues. I really do want you to run. Not only this year, but to survive to run again for many years to come. My biggest thrill each year is clocking someone new into Impound after a record run
If I were asked on how to best prepare yourself for your next visit to Tech Inspection at the Salt Flats, my advice would be this simple.
1. Before you leave for Bonneville, get your rulebook in hand and go stand next to your car and carefully read through sections 2 (II) and 3 (III) and check how each item pertains to your particular car. Pay special attention to items in BOLD text; those are the new revisions. If you aren't sure what a particular paragraph means, get some advice from someone with greater experience or ask someone from Tech Inspection. I don't know all the answers, but I will find someone who does.
2. Show up at the Inspection Tent prepared. This includes having your LOGBOOK properly filled out and up to date, and your car along with your personal safety gear ready to be looked at, (panels off, suit out, etc.).
By doing your homework in advance, you will find that we really do want you to run, Tech Inspection will be a much more pleasant process, and you won't find yourself in Wendover looking for that missing link.
See you on the Salt.
You can contact me via email at


See you in Inspection!

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