Top 10 Tips from the Old School
For the past few decades, I have kept some form of notes. These simple scrawls bear silent witness to supreme screw-ups and some worthwhile finds.
Here are 10 things it would've been nice to know in the beginning. This isn't the heavy tech stuff, it's just handy info for your survival manual. The stupid stuff and truly stupid dangerous stuff I will keep under my hat.
1) Always believe the barameter. If you don't know your jet size and its relationship to barametric pressure and temp, you are an amateur. Expect to get bumped out or burn down. Do your Homework!
2) Hook an ohm meter to your tether switch and then pound the hell out of your handlebars and dash area. Watch for shorts on the meter. You wouldn't be the only guy to buy a CDI due merely to a wiring short.
3) Setting the carbides off the outer ski edge isn't good enough. You must be absolutely sure the carbide is dead center all the way down. We always set up to the best of our ability then push the sled over some ice and closely examine the plow berm. Get it dead even on both sides, it's like a snowplow with an adjustable blade. It is amazing how much quicker you will be when you reduce the unnecessary drag.
4) Treat your rear wheel bearings well. Every season demands a change, or you pop the seals and wash in clean varsol. Use a good grade winter synthetic grease to repack. You don't need to jam it in full. Remember that your rear wheels are the first stressed point in your suspension. All the hole shot slam goes right into these bearings. I've seen a guy lose a grand for a five dollar bearing.
5)This may sound simple but try to phone the race organizers in advance and get your number. It is a lot easier to stick something to your hood in the shop. Ever tried to get duct tape to stick to anything at -20C?
6) Put styrofoam or carpet under your picks, not wood. Pics set into frozen wood and will snap off from bumps and trailer vibration. Just make sure that whatever you use holds the pics clear.
7) Never, ever, ever, leave town without your race fuel. Buy it from an active facility and get enough plus a pail. You will not be able to buy premium fuel at 7 AM on a Sunday in Starvation Flats Saskatchewan. I can say this with absolute certainty. The best you will end up with will be making due with regular fuel, if you can find or borrow it.
8) Donate blood. It will be greatly appreciated and they will tell you what your blood type is. Write that down in your race book or on your helmet. There is nothing more frustrating than bleeding while a nurse tries to determine your blood type. When you play with the bull, there is always the chance you will get the horns.
9) When the other guy says, "you won't need your tools, we'll take mine...", take it to mean,
"you are on your own if my tools don't fit or aren't there". Be self reliant at the track. Sit down and make a serious list of what you will need at the track and create a toolbox.
10) If you don't carry extra vehicle fuel see #8. Your options are limited at 1 AM when your buddy says, "I was sure it was open 24 hours."
That's my top ten. Take em or leave em, if you can say none of these have effected you then I'm sure you are also the greatest racer of all time and need no advice from me...
11) Always tie everything down, everything, always.
Next time I will tell you the story of the Arctic Cat fellas who showed up in Wetaskiwin, just at race time, and realizing they forgot their sleds on the trailer back at the Holiday Inn. True story.
Back in the old days alcohol was said to have played a part in a couple of the successes, most of the failures, and certainly all of the stories.
Written by Gord Healy,