The Essential Track Day Checklist: Tools and Fluids
When you go to a track day, it's a good idea to have this equipment on-hand.
A few months back I wrote about tips for having a comfortable and enjoyable track day. I discussed staying warm, staying cool, staying unburned, and having necessary food and drinks on hand. You aren’t the only thing that needs hydration, though, and it’s important to keep fluids in mind for your car, as well. Bringing along a list of various tools and fluids ensures the car stays in good shape, and should any issues arise, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle them. To show you what we mean, we’ve assembled a gear list we personally stick to that should help the next time you’re preparing for the track.
This list will vary a bit depending on your car. For instance, someone with a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) car might want to have extra differential fluid on hand. Or, if someone has a car that has certain known reliability issues, like coil packs on the RX-8 or early Toyobaru, having extras of those is a good idea. Otherwise, the tools and fluids I discuss are pretty universal.
Feast your eyes upon this load-out that I stuff into my Mazda 2! Let’s discuss.
I hate compact jacks, so I bring a full-size one that is much easier to work with. The two-piece jack handle can also double as a breaker bar to loosen lug nuts (I often avoid things that need charging, so I don’t have a battery-powered impact just yet). Jack stands are necessary for any wrenching, and most of the time I bring two to keep myself covered.
I have a standard torque wrench that’s served me well, as well as a half-inch wrench and a good selection of half-inch sockets. This includes a socket that’s sized to house the wheel key that loosens the lug nuts. Having one that’s big enough to loosen a CV axle nut is always a good idea, too. Common impact sockets are a good idea, as are a rubber mallet, flathead and Phillips screwdrivers, a sturdy adjustable wrench, and coilover wrenches.
For smaller stuff, I have a set of tiny metric sockets with an accompanying wrench with extensions. These aren’t crucial, but there are enough annoying little nuts that hold suspension bits in place to warrant including them. I also typically have at least three 10-mm sockets in various places.
Spare brake pads, or more aggressive pads that you swap at the track. Not pictured: I have a bottle of Castrol SRF and a bleeder bottle for any potential brake bleeding as well.
I also always have oil of the proper weight, pre-mixed coolant, a funnel, and rags on hand. I’ve never had to add either at a track event, but it’s a good idea to have these, just in case. Maybe not an entire oil change worth of Texas tea, but at least a quart.
As far as miscellanea goes, I also bring a bottle of cleaner for removing rubber bits from the paint, a roll or two of racer tape, rags, a big bag of zip ties, Fix-a-Flat, an electric tire inflator, tape measure, two spare lower strut bolts for the front and rear dampers, a big old school skateboard for getting around, and mechanic’s gloves.
I’ve never had to do any degree of emergency paddock-wrenching, but I still lug all of this stuff with me. I’m a big believer in the mantra “better safe than sorry,” and I’ve gladly lent tools to friends at events over the years. To make it easier, I keep most of these tools in the pictured red padded tool bag. I then throw the bag in the pictured blue bin with everything that’ll fit.
Check out my setup at GridLife’s Skip Day back in March -having a big plastic bin is a good idea. You can toss everything in at the end of the day and not have it shifting around the vehicle on the way home. It also helps keep stuff out of the sun, and you can throw items in there that you’d like to keep out of sight. I’ve never had anything stolen from me at track events but hiding it is reassuring. I also brought along a spare tire with some tread left on it; if I ended up de-laminating a tire or destroying a sidewall, I could bring this and the wheel over to the track’s tire shop and have it swapped.
So: some food for thought for packing and prepping for a track day. Whether you’re going for the first time, or have been turning laps for years, I hope this is some solid info to help you have a better day than otherwise.
In fact, do you have any tips of your own as far as bringing tools and equipment to the track?