Stuck for a last minute gift or stocking stuffer? Spouse asking what to get you? Here’s our list.
Lets start with some smaller driver accessory items:
- Racing gloves. Fireproof, yes. But also important is that they absorb perspiration and improve your grip on the steering wheel. I strongly recommend getting a bright colour (mine are red on the back side) so your hand can be more easily seen when extended out the window to point another driver by. Consider Simpson, RaceQuip, G-Force for different price points.
- Driving shoes … fire rated if possible, but most importantly driving shoes have a thin sole that transmits pedal feel to the driver. A good pair of driving shoes will make threshold braking easier, as well as heal-toe downshifting.
- Tire gauge. Consistent tire pressures are critical if you want consistent, fast laps. Digital gauges are great, but a good quality analog gauge is quite acceptable. A large face that is easy to read is the most important quality. Moroso makes both analog and digital gauges that are available locally for last minute shoppers.
- Wide convex centre mirror … models are available that attach over top of your existing mirror or to a roll cage (if you have one).
- Polarized sun glasses (if you haven’t tried polarized glasses, they make a huge difference when the sun is close to the horizon).
- Rain driving glasses (again, polarized are best but with light yellow lenses for improved contrast and definition of the driving surface in rain and grey-sky days … try looking at Cabela’s or a local fishing shop).
- Tire temperature probe … these are great if you are trying to sort out suspension settings and tire pressures to get the best grip (Longacre and Intercomp make great gear).
- Fire Extinguisher: A 2 lb or 5lb ABC extinguisher can keep things contained until help arrives. Plus lots of fires start in the pits, not just on the track in view of the marshals. Make sure you get a secure mount and use BOLTS & fender washers to secure it to the car (not sheet metal screws that can pull out in a collision).
If you are serious about safety, and we hope you are, consider this list:
- SA Helmet: An SA-rated motorsport helmet is designed for multiple impacts and has a fire-proof Nomex liner. This level of protection is far superior to a motorcycle helmet in a rollover or a fire. SNELL released the SA2015 and SAH2015 standards this past year, with the big change being increased low-speed impact protection. With all the recent research into the longterm effects of concussions on brain health, this improvement in low-speed impact protection is long overdue. If you have an older helmet (SNELL SA2005 or older) many sanctioning bodies will now consider it obsolete … but of course the newest 2015 helmets are now in stores! Helmets are an item you will want to try on before purchasing if possible … so I recommend shopping locally (see below). Remember that open-face helmets are recommended for cars with airbags, while closed-face helmets are recommended for cars without air bags.
- HANS Device: HANS stands for Head And Neck System, and the HANS-branded design has become the standard in motorsport. You may also want to consider the FIA Hybrid device that is compatible with a factory 3-point harnesses. All such devices are meant to prevent basal skull fractures in high-impact collisions. I find it interesting that almost every medical doctor I know that goes to the track has a HANS device. But again, you need a roll bar and racing restraints and seats with shoulder belt cut-outs if you want the original HANS, so this can be a bit ticket item.
- Fire Suit: I think the safety part is self-explanatory. I’ve owned a couple of fire suits … my experience has been that a lighter suits makes a huge difference to your driving experience. Lighter suits are much cooler while driving, and they dry quicker between sessions. Own your own business? Have your company logo stitched on the suit to make it a pre-tax promotional expense. (P.S.: You may have noticed I’m not an ‘off-the-rack’ shaped person … custom-made suits are not much more expensive than off-the-rack, plus they can stitch your company logo on at the factory.)
Here are some ideas that might be great for a gift certificate:
- Gift a Track Junkies event … maybe your spouse will send you to our Advanced Driver Weekend featuring Ross Bentley and Jeff Braun. Gift certificates can be purchased through MotorSportReg here: msreg.com/TJgift.
- Additional set of track wheels and sticky tires (maybe some Nitto NT01s, Toyo R888s, or even Hoosiers R6 slicks). Remember if you’re getting slicks, you can’t drive them in the rain so you’ll need to haul street tires to the track if weather is sketchy. Toyo R888s are a great cross-over tire that will stick pretty well in the dry but still channel some water if it rains.
- Lightweight aluminum floor jack, aluminum jack stands, digital torque wrench, and maybe even a battery-powered impact wrench … all are necessities if you change your own tires at the track.
- Suspension improvements … lowering kits, beefy sway bars, Delrin or poly suspension bushings, 97-way adjustable coil-over kits. Or maybe just consider asking for the gift of some time on the alignment rack at your local shop to properly corner weight and align your car so it sticks better in the corners.
- Brake improvements … racing brake pads, ducting, two-piece rotors (for their lower rotating mass).
- Racing Harnesses: Proper racing harnesses have multiple benefits over the factory 3-point seat belts. From a safety perspective, they keep you from moving around the cabin in the event of a collision. But they can also improve your driving enjoyment by keeping you firmly positioned in your seat at all times. Think about how much effort you are spending holding yourself in position. Maybe you have been pushing your knee against the door or transmission tunnel just to keep yourself in position, or maybe even using the steering wheel to also hold your upper body in position. Probably you are not aware of how much effort and concentration this takes, and how much less focus you have on your driving as a result. Having your butt and shoulders firmly anchored will make it seem like things have slowed down and become much quieter … the result being that it is easier to concentrate on driving at speed.
Please remember that to install 4-, 5- or 6-point harnesses, you also need a roll bar or roll cage to secure the belts to, and to protect your head and neck in the event of a rollover (now that you are held firmly upright). The belts must fit across your shoulders close to your neck (not around the seats) to work properly, and this may require installing racing seats with belt cut-outs. Anti-submarine belts (the 5th and sometimes 6th belt) are an important safety feature, but properly positioning the anti-subs belt require a hole through the bottom of the seat … so again maybe an investment in racing seats will be required. Admittedly, moving up to racing harnesses can be a major leap, but the benefits are quite significant.
- Roll Bar: There is an aftermarket bolt-in roll bar out there for just about every sportscar, many of which can be installed and later removed with barely a trace. I have a roll bar in my Porsche that mounts to the factory-reinforced seat belt mountings … no welding or drilling required.
- Fire Suppression System: AFFF (foam) systems are fairly inexpensive. The importance of a fire suppression system is that it can be activated by the driver before unbelting, and provides occupants additional time to get out of the vehicle. It also buys some time if the occupant is unable to get out of the vehicle due to injury, and has to wait for the safety crew to arrive and extinguish the fire. The bottle can be mounted in the truck, and valves electrically activated from the cabin, if you want to keep things neat and tidy on your street car.
- Race Seats: Anything that keeps your butt and torso firmly planted will significantly improve your driving experience. If you already have race seats, roll bar and restraints, you may want to consider moving up to a newer containment or halo-type seat. These offer much more protection for your head and neck in the event of a side-impact collision. But unfortunately, halo seats are not really suitable for a dual-purpose street/track car.
We recommend JB’s Power Centre. With the largest inventory in Alberta and locations in Edmonton and Calgary, finding a last minute gift at JB’s should not be a problem.