Checklists: Tuning Plan; Arriving @ the Track

As introduced in our previous newsletters, checklists were assembled as good reminders for the numerous tasks & hardware that we would need for racing. Note that going through checklist items and organizing the records can be done by an enthusiastic pit crew member, such as a spouse, relative, or friend who is intimate with the racing effort. Here are links to previous checklists:

In this Newsletter, checklists are provided for how we did our tuning plans the day before race day as well as what we did upon arrival on race day at the racing location, unloading, & pit preparation.  As we would think of a task or item during preparation, we would add that to one of the checklists.  Every time we forgot a preparation task or item in an outing, we would add that to one of the checklists as a reminder for the next outing.

Tuning Plan the Day Before Race Day


  • procure tentative racing schedule for the next day to determine time of day for racing runs
  • procure hourly weather forecast from a source such as “view forecast data” to get air density info
  • determine mechanical fuel injection nozzles & bypass jetting setups for various air densities at different times of the day using ProCalc
  • make a jetting plan by the time of day according to the ProCalc analysis for different air densities throughout the day; also confirm that we had spare nozzles & jets that were needed
  • for bracket racing with specific performance plateaus, we used the program, Quarter Pro to predict the ET in our funnycar or altered drag racer; we would alter the shift point to achieve an ET target when air density would change the power that would affect the ET
  • for bracket racing, make a shift point plan by the time of day according to the Quarter Pro analysis for different air densities, traction coefficients, & shift point compensations.


Note:This procedure constituted the majority of our tuning decisions for the subsequent race day. They were mostly made the day before. For fuel injection tuning on race day, we would watch the time of day and jet the racing engine according to that predetermined plan. We seldom had to ever adjust jetting differently from that plan. For bracket racing ET’s, we would select the shift point by the time of day. Again, we seldom changed the shift point to any value different from the predetermined plan. We were able to concentrate on competition and the spectators, relieved of tuning burdens throughout the race. These tasks can be handled by a crew person who is interested in the intimate details of racing. A spouse, husband, girl friend, boy friend, neighbor, son or daughter who participates in the racing activity can provide a valuable addition to competition by taking on one or both of these tasks.

Checklist on Race Day Arriving at the Track, Unloading, & Pit Setup

SELECT PIT LOCATION (when we are not directed by track pit parking staff)

  • out of way of traffic for safety consideration for kids & crew
  • near personal resources such as food vendors, bathrooms, & water source
  • near starting line, staging lanes, access roads
  • nearest exit if we are in a tight schedule to leave
  • pit location with best spectator visibility for sponsor support or least spectator visibility for privacy depending on our priority for that event
  • trailer orientation suitable for unloading & loading
  • trailer orientation suitable for morning or evening shade
  • trailer orientation suitable for the racecar entering & leaving pits between rounds
  • pit location with enough room for racecar setup & tuning
  • pit location suitable for near or far proximity to other racercars depending on priority for that event
  • in some remote racing locations, pit location with best cell phone or web connection needed for weather or schedule reports.



  • establish pit size with cones, tape, portable barriers, tents, tow and/or crew vehicles, and pit facility land marks
  • secure trailer wheels with tire chocks before disconnecting trailer
  • remove power cord & safety chains before disconnecting trailer
  • unload racecar
  • set up pit resources as needed; include fire extinguishers, emergency kit, portable power, & lighting
  • secure tents from wind
  • set up waste containers for trash & racer liquids.



  • check tow vehicle fuel, battery, & tires
  • mark tow vehicle with racing class & racecar numbers; using white shoe polish on the windows
  • connect tow rope to tow vehicle
  • set up racecar starter battery pack, cables, & remote starter
  • set up staging lane racer tools in back of tow vehicle
  • set up helmet visor & racer wind shield anti fog sprays & clean towels
  • load fire suit, helmet, ear protectors, safety harnesses into tow vehicle for driver to dress in the staging lanes
  • load shift light lens cover for night time brightness reduction
  • load water bottle for driver
  • on hot day, load cool packs for driving suit
  • load racecar body lift support required for towing to the staging lanes or from the shut off lanes
  • load clutch board & clutch cooler that may be connected to tow back to pits between rounds.



  • fill out any inspection & registration forms provided by facility or racing organization
  • procure a copy of the safety certifications checklist with current safety certification information customarily needed for inspection & registration
  • procure racing driver license & racing organization membership card that may be required
  • prepare race vehicle as needed for inspection.



  • plan for setup & tuning adjustments for testing
  • determine best position for qualifying with consideration to competitors; that is in some cases, qualifying in the bottom half may be an advantage especially if the stiffest competition is not repeatable; he or she may eliminate himself or herself before getting to your round
  • plan for competition times to prepare crew & resources.



  • review instructions for tow vehicle driver about towing responsibilities such as tow speed and turning radius limits
  • review instructions for towing safety such as what to do in the event of an accident from the racer
  • review what to do when outside personnel such as track operators holler or yell instructions to move the tow vehicle.


Note:  In our routine with our drag race funnycar or altered & tow vehicle, we assigned a crew person walking outside of the tow vehicle to be the spotter and the only person to authorize the tow vehicle driver to pull forward. That was regardless of who said or yelled to pull forward. The spotter would confirm that the racecar was clear of any crew person or driver entering or exiting the racer before it was pulled with the tow vehicle. Prior to this procedure, we had a few close calls where a staging lane manager would tell the tow vehicle driver to pull forward when a crew person was working on the racer or the driver was climbing in or exiting. Our spotter procedure eliminated any problems for us. We settled on that assignment to only one person at an event. He or she was the sole authority to advise the tow vehicle driver to move the tow vehicle when it was attached to the racecar.