58 FEBRUARY 2019 scca.com
INSIDE SCCA AUTOCROSS
With this being the winter, few of us are actually autocrossing right now – so
let’s instead discuss inexpensive tools we can
use at events. After all, even the most basic
SCCA competitor shows up with something
in the trunk. Or, at least, they should.
Grid-usable air compressors are something
most could use, and it’s something we should
discuss in this column – but first, let us talk
about hockey pucks. Hockey pucks can be
purchased individually, but it is possible to
find a dozen for just under $20. What am
I going to do with a dozen hockey pucks,
you ask? Well, if I lose one, it’s no big deal.
And, if I need to carve one up to fit in a small
floor jack, it’s not a problem. If I lose the one
I carved up, once again, it’s no big deal.
So, what’s so cool about hockey pucks
and floor jacks? They are a very durable hard
rubber yet using one to pad a floor jack will do
wonders to avoid destroying a pinch weld or
jack point. Properly applied with safety in mind,
these will also be useful to pad jack stands.
I’ve bought clip-on jack stand pads before,
and the ones I bought are clearly not going
to last long – they weren’t quite single-use
disposable, but they were far from durable.
For a small floor jack, it would be easy to
carve a hockey puck so it fit snugly in the cup
of the jack. Make it fit tight and it won’t fall
out when the jack is moved around, and it
won’t stick to the pinch weld when the jack is
lowered. Further customization might be handy,
too, like with a bolt through the puck for a C5
Corvette – the nice thing there is, properly
applied, the puck isn’t (tenuously) attached to
the car, and therefore can’t be forgotten and
dropped somewhere on course. Other cars with
weird jack points? Hockey pucks are pretty darn
adaptable. Carve, drill, glue – at about a buck
and a half apiece, I’m open to experimentation.
A different, but even more commonly used
tool is a 12-volt portable air compressor.
We’ve all had them, and, like those clip-on
jack stand pads, most of them seem to be
practically a single-use sort of tool. They
compress air with a liberal application of
noise and vibration, and they generate
enough heat to melt themselves in a few uses
even without trying to air up an RV tire.
A few years back, a friend tried a different
sort of compressor, and it worked. It wasn’t super
noisy or hot, it didn’t vibrate all that much, and
it seemed to be built to work over and over
again. I had to try one – and the one I bought
in early 2014 is still going strong. It has been
rained on and spent countless hours in the
sun, just like most of our grid tools. It pumps
enough air that it’s almost as fast as using an
air tank, and it’s a tiny fraction of the size of
an air tank, so we’ve used it almost exclusively
to air up race tires at the beginning of any run
group. Granted, it has not been run over (yet),
but it might survive even that. In any case, this
Viair compressor is almost five years old and
it shows no signs of asking for a replacement.
This is not a paid endorsement – I bought it with
my own money, and it’s just a nice product.
Viair has various models, with different
volume capabilities, some with cigarette
lighter adapters, some with alligator clips. The
one I use happens to be the cigarette lighter
option since with most stock vehicles that’s the
easiest access, but there are options available.
Sometimes better tools cost significantly
more than the cheap stuff (as is the case with
the Viair). But if you pay more and the part
works better and lasts longer than the cheaper
option, it’s probably a good investment.
And, for everything else, there are hockey
pucks – both inexpensive and durable.
With that said, is it time to go autocrossing
yet? I hear the Tire Rack Dixie Solo Championship
Tour is just around the corner....
It’s the autocrossing off-season, so let’s talk tools | WORDS Paul Brown
PICK A TOOL
Working on your autocross
car is much easier if you
have the right tool. However,
sometimes the correct tool
isn’t what you thought.