SCCA Runoffs Indianapolis Motor Speedway Speedway, Indiana ©2017 Rupert Berrington


The cooling system of any race car is vital to your engine’s performance and longevity. A few simple maintenance items can keep it performing like it should.

The cooling system of any race car is vital to its engine’s performance and longevity. Running at the hotter range of your engine’s safe temperature zone has been known to decrease horsepower. Excessive temperature may cause the cylinder head gasket to fail or, in the worst-case scenario, catastrophic engine failure. Some of these failures are caused by low-cost and easily replaced cooling system components. Always keep a spare belt, thermostat and cooling system pressure cap in your tool box.

• During the race season, use de-mineralized water with a cooling system additive (Water Wetter or similar; note that most racing sanctioning bodies do not allow ethylene glycol-based coolants).
• For long periods of storage without use – more than 60 days – or if car is stored where  temperature is below freezing, make sure to drain your cooling system and replace with a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze.
• Inspect hoses for deterioration or seepage /leaks.
• Inspect drive belts for proper tension and replace any belt showing excessive wear.
• Inspect water pump for leakage/bearing play when replacing or inspecting the timing belt.
• For 1.6 cars, inspect the rubber plug on the passenger rear of the cylinder head.
• Install a protective screen to prevent debris from damaging the radiator on track. Inspect periodically throughout the season.

Unless you are planning to completely rebuild your engine, there are a few minor repairs to consider before taking your car on track.