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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org