T ec h nically speaking Tech inspection insures that prescribed standards, including weight, shocks and safety. Here is an overview before and after the race. Follow along ders of the inspectors as they check the A device called “The Referee” is dangling chains that indicate if the car’s
all the race cars meet the height, width, engine, tires, of what each car experiences as we look over the shoulLate Models.
rolled across the car, with contour is correct. Height, width, tires extending out past the fenders, spoiler size and angle are measured. The underside clearance is checked. Safety items including fuel cell, roll bar size, emergency gas shut-off, window net, and driver harness are reviewed. Here Ricky Brooks and Kenny Way operate the referee on the car of Allen Karnes. After it passes, the car is rolled on the scales. 4 individual tire platforms record the weight, with the driver inside. A computer calculates the side to side and front to back weight ratio. 58% of the weight can be on the left side. Standard weight for a late model is 2750 pounds. Lead weight can be added to bring today’s lighter cars into specs. Weight includes a full tank of up to 22 gallons of Sunoco Racing fuel. On the left, the KBR #52 car of T. J. Reaid is checked on the scales. Templates are also available to check the body contour. Any discrepancies are noted, and the crew can return to their pit to make needed adjustments. Prior to qualifying, cars are teched again. If variances sill are detected, the car could be penalized, allowed only one lap in time trials instead of the usual 2 laps. Tires are all the same Hoosier 2045 for the Snowflake and Snowball. Qualifying tires must be on the car to start the race. After time trials, the car returns to tech, where the tires are removed by the crew, marked, and impounded by the track until the actual race. By the way, tires are not filled with air, but nitrogen. Bottled nitrogen does not expand as much as air, and has a lower water vapor content, keeping tires cooler. On left, you see the replacement tires the D J Vanderley crew will use on car until race time. Crews measure the tires circumference (usually about 89 inches) and determine the best placement of the 4 tires to start the race. The air pressure is kept secret by each crew, and can be different for each tire. Pressure is measured to the quarter pound. The right rear usually gets the most punishment. A race team can use 16 tires for the Snowball Derby’s 300 lap event. The Allen Turner Snowflake 100 has a 4 tire limit. This does not include the tires used in practice. The “soaking” of tires is not permitted. In years past, a tire softener was applied to give added grip. Technology solved that with the use of a mechanical sniffer, that detects traces of the illegal softening chemical. Every competing car is required to install a transponder. It’s the size of a pack of cigarettes, and strapped to the frame in the rear of the car. The unit emits a signal detected by a sensing loop in the track at the start/ finish line. The time elapsed between passes over the loop determines exact speed, used in time trials. Measurements are also made during practice, and posted, so all drivers have an indication of the performance of other competitors. The unit’s radio signal is connected to a computer in the tower that displays the data. It also keeps exact count of the laps each driver completes during the race. We will use about 130 transponders this weekend.
Each Late Model is required to have a spotter. They gather high in the stands and keep in contact with a track official and their driver by radio. You’ve heard the track announcer after the race say something to the effect “the official order of finish is subject to post race inspection.” Usually the top 3 or 5 are sent to tech after the checkered flag. Here you see Donnie Wilson’s # 82 starting the routine. It begins with weigh-in. Then a punch list of items similar to the pre-race inspection. Below you see the crew of Chase Elliott’s #9 getting down to business. Tech inspector Terry Watson watches as the carburetor is removed by the Elliott Crew. It is taken to the bench by Terry, where exact measurements are completed to insure it is still within the original tolerances of the manufacturer. Too large of an orifice means more air/fuel, and a definite no-no. While the carburetor is closely examined, Ricky Brooks is seen below in the last 2 photos probing the car’s suspension and front end assembly. This critical post-race inspection is important to maintain the integrity of the posted rules. Drivers want to be assured the cars that finished ahead of them were meeting all specs. There have been instances where a driver who got the checkers at the flag stand was disqualified when inspection discovered a variance. Tolerances exceeded in the carburetor, weight, suspension, or engine have resulted in a DQ. So has the uncovering of unapproved parts.
We are proud of the job our inspectors do during the Snowball Derby weekend. They are usually the last to leave the track after a long day. Most fans are on their way home when we announce the official order of finish. It can be 15 minutes to an hour after the last photo was taken in victory lane. The Tech Crew: Kenny Way, Randy Spruill, Terry Watson, Jeff Clark, Pete Preston, Billy Weaver, Mary Watson, Kevin Chance, Eddie Chew and Rusty Crews. We thank Keith Cooper for his photos.
This weekend, 6 different divisions of cars are racing, and the specifics for the Bombers, Sportsmen, Modifieds and Super Stocks differ from the 2 Late Model classes. The tech procedure is generally the same. To view the specific set of rules for each class, check our web site.