Published: April 10, 2018
Regardless of whether the event organizer conducts a tech inspection, the instructor should always inspect the car they are getting in prior to going on track. This essay covers items I check and what I am looking for.
Roll Bar / Cage Padding
If the car is equipped with a roll bar, I ensure that any bars that my helmet can come into contact with are padded. A car with factory 3 point seat belts will need more padding than a car with race 5 or 6 point belts.
I usually do not require bottom bars that legs can come into contact to be padded, however I do point this out and strongly recommend the driver pads them.
Some drivers object to adding padding at the event. I absolutely require padding for possible helmet contact areas on my side of the car. If the driver does not want to pad their side, that is their call.
Factory 3 point seat belts must have good tension and must stay locked. A common issue with Miatas is the factory belts get caught on the roll bar and may not tension all the way; this is usually not acceptable.
A 4 point harness must have anti-submarine provision in order for me to get in the car. Some do and some don't. In any event I will recommend the driver install a 5 or 6 point harness with the anti-submarine strap.
A 5 or 6 point harness must have the belts wrapped around the adjusters correctly. I usually repair this on the spot for lap and shoulder belts; sub belt is generally not easily accessible for this repair.
The seat must have a functioning headrest. Most do but some vintage cars don't have acceptable headrests.
The seat must not move while I am in the car, though some play is acceptable in sliders.
Brake Pads And Rotors
Next I look at brake pads and rotors. Brake pads should have a good amount of material left; rotors should not show any signs of cracking.
Lastly I inspect the tires to know how much grip to expect from the car. I look for signs of damage or unusual wear on the tires, which is very rare.