Once you become fully addicted to this sport it's only a matter of time before you start searching the internet for things that can improve your lap times. Hours can go by while you scan websites for coilover suspension, titanium exhaust, wheels and big brake kits. You can easily miss important family functions while you read reviews on the latest and greatest.
On occasion, I’ll get a phone call from someone that purchased everything they could find for their car and yet they are still running the exact same or slower lap times as they did when the car was stock. How could that be? Here are a few reasons why this happens.
Track Car Mod: SuspensionBelieve me - I also drool over a brand new set of Racing Coilovers. I’m not saying you shouldn’t install more track-worthy suspension on your car, but that's just the beginning. To do this right, after installing the shocks, you need to have your car corner-weighted on a scale pad, set the rake, as well as set the compression and rebound adjusters to a safe starting point. If you try to cut these corners and eyeball your ride heights with a tape measure, you will likely be very disappointed with your car's performance. If you don’t want to deal with all of this hassle, I’d recommend keeping your stock shocks and install a stiffer set of springs and swaybars.
Track Car Mod: ExhaustI love the sound of a roaring V8, the high pitch of a V12, or the growl of a flat 6 just as much as anybody! However, even though it may increase horsepower slightly, don’t expect a significant change in your lap time from an exhaust system. Just admit to yourself that you're buying this for the sound and that's about it!
Track Car Mod: BrakesLike suspension, shopping for big brake kits can verge on orgasmic - and, yes, this can make an improvement on your car’s performance. However, there are a few things to consider first.
Remember, the ABS and traction systems were designed around the OEM brakes. If you drastically change your brake system, you might encounter quirky and oftentimes, unpredictable electronic intervention issues. I recommend leaving your stock calipers and rotor size alone. Start by installing slightly more track-oriented brake pads if you want extra bite. I also recommend installing braided steel brake lines and replacing the OEM brake fluid with higher boiling point brake fluid. With these simple changes you’ll notice a huge difference in your car's braking capabilities.
Track Car Mod: TiresOne of the simplest things you can do to improve your lap times is buy stickier tires! In some situations this can gain you 1 second per mile! Of course, the downside is that the softer and stickier the tire, the faster it's going to wear out. Talk about an expensive “drug” habit! But, hey - every once in a while, you should treat yourself to a set of slicks.
Track Car Mod: Coaching
I know, I know - this isn't a mod for your car, necessarily. Remember the driver I told you about earlier that installed everything known to man but still runs the same lap times? That was a real person I coached a few years back. Sometimes the reason your lap times are not improving is because of YOU, not your car. That can sound a bit harsh but paying for an experienced professional driver coach can gain you more time on the stopwatch than almost any bolt or part.
Just in case your pride is getting in the way, remember Tom Brady has a throwing coach! No matter your experience level, a quality coach can add a fresh perspective and new ideas in order to shave lap time or make you safer behind the wheel.
Shameless Plug Alert: If you purchase an OpenTrack Unlimited Annual insurance policy you’ll receive a 1-on-1 virtual coaching session with myself, among many additional benefits, at no additional cost. Great way to dip your toes in professional coaching waters.
What are some of the mods you have made that improved your lap times? Are there any that you regret? Comment below!