It’s the off season, it’s time to relax right? Wrong! Here are my seven things to do this offseason that will payoff big next season. The time to start them is now.
While this post is mostly geared toward those that race their car, these items will payoff big next season for anyone that is involved with car events. There’s little doubt that if you are involved in car related activities your 2019 plan is starting to come together. You’ve probably selected the events you’ll be at. You’ve reviewed test day schedules and have begun to outline your 2019 racing calendar.
A successful offseason is very important to a successful race season. Everything you do now will impact how your race season starts off and having the right plan in place is best place to start.
So what should you plan for? Everything!
How should you plan? Well, that depends on you. For some it’s a clipboard and paper. Others like to
use tools such as Evernote, Word, Google Tasks. There are so many planning and task management applications out there – if you have one that works for you, use it.
The best way to start is to sit down and begin brainstorming about everything you need and want to do. Get every idea and every item that needs to be addressed onto paper. (We’ll use the paper model of planning going forward) Just get as many items out of your head and onto paper as you can. You’ll organize them later. Don’t think just about the car. If you tow, what about the truck and trailer? Do you need to request off of work? Renew a membership? Register for your events? If you are part of a team do you need to schedule team meetings?
Your plan will change over time and it should. Sometimes you’ll determine some items don’t need to be done and other times you’ll find that one item leads to another, so be flexible.
Having a plan also helps with delegating work. If you are lucky enough to have people wanting to help, having a detailed plan will make it easy for you and them to see what needs done and keep everyone moving.
If you are like me, weeks will go by before you clean out the truck and tool box after the last event. Before you get started with your plan, it’s best to get your tools organized.
I have three different tool boxes and that has made my life a little crazy. I have two race boxes at the shop and my main tools at home. This offseason I decided to bring everything home to sort through and organize them. Now that we aren’t karting I can live with two tool boxes. Sometimes I’ll work on projects at the shop and other times I’ll be working at home. Guess what? The tool I need is rarely where I need it when I need it. Ugh! Since I won’t be racing this next season I will have less issues having the right tool in the right place.
As you clean out your box and organize all of your tools write down any missing or needed tools and plan those purchases. Think about what you didn’t have at the track and needed – add it to your list. If something is missing, figure out who borrowed it and get it back.
Whether you are campaigning the same car or even a new car, read the rule book for the next season. Be familiar with what changes are taking place and what may have been added or removed. Don’t be caught off guard!
Parts, Equipment & Spares
There’s a word I yell at myself when I buy something I already have, INVENTORY! There has been too many times that I failed to check what I already had or since I didn’t have it organized enough to know that I had it already. Take the time to go through your spare parts, your track equipment, and your supplies. As you go through your spare parts, think about what else you might need at your events. We got caught off guard this season by not having enough lug nuts. Time waster!
For organizing my spares and pit equipment I found these black and yellow storage totes at Home Depot and they work great. If I were to do it again, I might find something similar that has a studier top. All of mine seemed to have developed a crack.
Having a storage and inventory system will make transporting, storing, and organizing your equipment, parts, and supplies super easy. Plus, you are less likely to forget something or buy a duplicate of it.
I developed a checklist in Evernote to help me pack everything I need for my events. It’s also a great way to track inventory of needed parts and supplies.
WARNING, the off season is shorter than you think! So this means, get working!
Now that you have read the rule book and put your plan together it’s time to work on the car.
If you haven’t already – perform a proper inspection on the car. Your plan probably includes items you already knew about, but there could be issues you aren’t aware of yet. Get the car up on jack stands , pull the wheels and begin inspecting everything. Inspection items should include brakes, steering, suspension, fluid leaks and underside damage. Inside the car check all wiring, your safety harness, fire bottle, seat mounts and controls. If you find something that needs to be addressed, add it to your plan.
It’s easy to postpone work until after the holidays and then say let’s wait until next week – this will go on forever! Follow your plan and make sure that you execute that plan. My advice is to do something to the car weekly. This will allow to you stay focused on your projects and allows time to research items, order parts and even round up help.
If you use a trailer to haul your vehicle to events, the offseason is a great time to take care of required maintenance.
Check all the lights, inspect the tires and test the brakes, if equipped. Also inspect the trailer wiring and all welds. It seems as if once or twice a season I find a fender weld that needs to be re-welded.
If it’s an enclosed trailer, clean it out, organize it and think about how you can best utilize the space for next season to make it easiest to work at the track.
The offseason is a great time to start up or continue your conditioning for race season. Depending on the type of driving you do, it’s important to have good cardio and upper body strength. As an endurance driver, I need to be able to handle the car, the traffic, and the heat for two hours. Running and cycling helped me prepare for these longer stints.
Cardio training is very important for race car drivers and establishing a weekly workout routine will help you condition your body for the demands of motor racing as well as help with mental focus. Sprinkle in some weights and sit-ups to strengthen your core and you’ll be amongst the fittest in the paddock.
However, I understand that working out isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t the athletic type, perhaps walking a few times per week and eating healthy will help you perform better in the next season.
I hope these seven things to do this offseason will payoff big for you next season.