With race season for a lot of people only being weeks away, it's time that we all took a moment to look at things that get over looked and ignored in the "Off Season". Things that may seem trivial, but in the long run could save your life!
Let's start with something super simple. Do you have a toter or RV that you use to come to the track? If you, when was the last time you checked the batteries or the detector itself? I am talking about that smoke & Carbon Monoxide detector. If it's old, just replace the thing with a new unit. If it's new, at least take the two minutes to go in and test it. Sometimes you are at the track for a week or more with the generator running, fluids everywhere, and God forbid something were to happen, you need to make sure that you are going to be alerted.
Next in the list of things to deal with is fire extinguishers. Do you have them in your RV/Toter? Do you have one in your truck? I don't mean just a generic one either. I mean do you have the right ones? Do you have fire extinguishers in the toter/rv that can handle a grease fire while cooking? In your trailer, do you have the right one to take care of a fuel fire? Not every extinguisher works for every situation, so you'd be make sure that you have the right one for the right time. Also, keep a general one in the sleeping area of your RV/Toter and not just up front. Does you no good if there is a fire between you and the front door now does it. Lastly, make sure to attach an extinguisher to your golf cart as well!!
Let's talk about some mechanical now though. When was the last time you really inspected the brakes on not only your tow vehicle, but your trailer as well. We are all guilty of waiting till we hear that noise, and you know exactly what noise I am talking about, before we deal with old brakes. Stop waiting and take a proactive approach to addressing your brakes on the tow vehicle, on your rv, and on your trailer. If they are marginal, replace them right away.
Tires is something we don't talk about until we are stuck on the side of the interstate at 2 am posting on Facebook with a blow out and looking for help. While we can't prevent everything, we can at least take the time to check tires for cracks, flat spots, and other wear indicators. Look for cracks on the wheels as well. Look for stress marks or cracks around the lug nut area too. While we are looking at wheels, how long have the bearings/hubs been on that trailer? Have you priced a new one? Do you keep bearings and hub assemblies with you in case they go out? If the answer is no, you'd better figure out what your excuse it. You have a $5000 spare transmission for the race car, but haven't spent the money for spare trailer parts. Are you going to drive the race car home? Spend twice as much as you should on emergency repairs? Come on everyone, lets start being prepared.
I want you to pay attention this part very carefully, because over the last two seasons we have seen way too many incidents of this happening. What am I talking about? I am taking about tow hitches failing. One of the biggest failures we see is the aluminum trailer with the steel hitch. Stackers are not immune to this either. You as the owner, or even if you are a hired driver, need to take 10 minutes and really inspect that hitch and every part of it. If you talk to some that have had hitches break, they will tell you that there is no worse feeling than that. A hub or a tire is pretty easy to replace, but what are you going to do when your trailer hitch completely fails at 70 mph on the interstate at 3 am? Asking yourself what you can do in regards to this? I have seen people start boxing in the hitches. Make sure the area that it's welding to is strong enough. Make sure you are not overloading the tongue. Just make sure that you aren't going to be left stranded.
How about we talk about the weather for a moment. Some of you that live in South Florida or in California sometimes forget early in the year that when you travel it can still be cold where you are going as well. So let's not forget to winterize your rigs as needed if you are traveling from somewhere warm to somewhere, well not so warm. Don't forget about those of you on the East Coast and Midwest that will be traveling to California and Arizona for the early races. You are already winterized, but make sure you winterize in between these races and before coming back east. The last thing you want is frozen pipes and a mess in your RV/Toter.
Lastly, I ask all of you. Whether you are fan, driver, crew, family, media, etc. make a checklist of the basics that must be taken with you every time. Your wallet, purse, NHRA member card, health checklist, emergency contacts, snacks, blanket, etc. Make it like a personal preparedness kit that you never go to the track without.
*For my fellow media family. Please do yourself a favor and make a checklist. A list of to do leading up to the event, and a checklist of things you are taking with you to the track. There is nothing worse than forgetting those extra batteries, cards, charger, card reader, etc. And take the time to check out your gear. If the sensor hasn't been cleaned, get it cleaned. If you need help organizing and getting ready for an event, you can always drop us an email and we will guide you.
Thank you everyone for taking a moment to check on this. I want to see all of you get to the track safely this season, as well as back home safely. Take care of your stuff and it will take care of you.