Setting up your home away from home.
Unlike most forms of auto racing, where home base is your trailer, the majority of your weekend will be spent on pit lane. The more comfortable and accessible you can make everything, the better. The pit lanes vary in size, and car count will play a role in how much space is available, but if you can fit the majority of your set-up under a 10’x10’ canopy, that is a good start.
If you have seen the wind turn an umbrella inside out, you can imagine what it does to a canopy. If you bring a canopy, have something to weigh it down with. Empty jugs that can be filled with water on site are the lightest thing to transport to and from the track. Your spare wheels and tires etc. can also be used, just remember to keep things accessible in case you need them in a panic.
There are some items required within the rules to be in your pit stall:
-10lb minimum ABC hand held fire extinguisher
-Oil/Fuel catch pan
-Race fuel jugs (VP style utility jugs are the most common)
-Pit communication (white board/radios)
-Broom and Dustpan
Make sure everyone in your pit stall is comfortable operating the extinguisher, and keep your fuel jugs out of the sun so they don’t swell up and puke gas out of the vents.
Aside from the mandated items, there are some other necessities if you plan to make it through a race weekend:
-A basic tool box (wrenches, sockets, allen keys, etc.)
-Air pig/small compressor
-Lots of duct tape and zip ties
-Cleaners (brake clean, spray-nine, vinegar)
-Extra fluids (brake, engine oil, gear oil)
All of this takes up space obviously, so whatever you can do to organize it is important. For our first couple events, we had all of our supplies and spares in large totes, then laid a piece of plywood across the top to make a table. This was clean and compact, the downside being there was some shuffling to get to things out of totes when we needed them. Our second version was essentially a rolling plywood box with a place for everything inside. Whatever you decide to go with, the important part is that everything is labeled or placed intuitively. When a driver comes flying in mid-race with a mechanical issue, it is to your advantage to not have everyone fumbling through random boxes looking for the part or tool you need.
I also find it helpful to have a place to keep notes and information. We have a white board to write down anything that comes to mind mid race that we need to look into after the race or event. I also keep a binder in the pit stall to store all relevant information to the car and event at my fingertips. This will include a copy of the rule book, event schedule, wiring diagrams, copies of our check sheets, set-up sheets, and part numbers for common wear items. You can also toss in instruction manuals for all of your gadgets in case you encounter any problems with them.
Flat surfaces have a tendency to collect everyone's personal items, taking away space that may be needed for actual racing related activities. You can have an extra folding table to collect your team's stuff, but a cheap set of plastic drawers can also be used as "lockers" to keep everything safe and dry. While we are on cheap plastic, a set of shelves like what you would have in your basement storage room will come in handy for drying drivers helmets and gear. You don’t want your helmet rolling around the pits like a loose bowling ball, have a space for it. Coat hangers for drying sweaty race suits are also handy. I think it goes without saying that camping chairs and a large cooler full of water are necessities for a weekend of racing. Keep a bottle of water on the go at all times. It’s easy to get distracted by the activities related to keeping your car on track and forget to stay hydrated.
As mentioned in a previous post, make an effort to coordinate with your pit lane neighbors. At events where space is limited, it can be difficult to pit in adjacent stalls at the same time, so give your neighboring teams a heads up, especially if you are both gearing up for fueling. It’s just an all around wise decision to be on good terms with your fellow teams in pit lane. Eventually you will need to borrow a tool or ask questions about something, so do yourself a favor and try not to burn your bridges before you get there.
To summarize, some form of organization will make for a more pleasant and productive weekend. Have a rough idea what you need and where it's going to go, and get everyone on your team on the same page. A place for everything and everything in its place.