If there’s any one universal truth in all of motor racing, it’s that at some point or another—and probably more often than you’d like—you’ll have to work on your race car. This is the case whether you’re running a piston-eating, all-out nitrous Pro Mod car, or your daily driver with a set of radials bolted on.
Regardless of the volatility of your vehicle or the frequency for which you find yourself getting your hands dirty, it’s always best to be prepared, and that means having the right equipment and the right tools to help you do the job, correctly and comfortably. Because, beyond normal maintenance in your garage, things will inevitably happen at the track that are out of your control, and you’ll be glad you spent a few dollars to make the job of climbing under your car on a hot slab of pavement just a bit less daunting.
Our friends at JEGS have been in the business of providing racers with the parts and equipment they need at home and at the track for more than 55 years, and as any drag racer can attest, it’s virtually impossible to go to a track, any track, and not see the bright yellow JEGS name on everything from pit mats to tire covers and the tools that line the walls of racers’ haulers.
Our very own BlownZ racing team has employed a host of JEGS’ most popular and useful pit area products at the track, putting them to the test on, under, and around our 7-second, 200 mph NMCA True 10.5 Camaro. In the text below, we’ll review just a few of the hundreds of like products that JEGS brands and markets in their catalog.
JEGS Inspection Camera
There’s an untold number of places on your race car that you can’t get to when it’s fully assembled—some even when it’s not. There are an equal number of places you can’t reach without pulling a disc in your back or putting a crick in your neck. And for this, much like a surgeon, we rely on modern technology to get us to places that our own two eyes can’t.
You can see here how small the camera end of the device is, allowing you to get down into some pretty tight spots for inspection.
Need to look down in an intake runner at the track? Perhaps down in a cylinder or in the valvetrain? For chores like that, JEGS offers their self-branded Inspection Camera (PN W50045) with an 11/32-inch diameter camera on the end of a 40-inch long, flexible neck that has four LED lights at the tip that allows you to take a well-lit look in all but the smallest of nooks and crannies of your engine, transmission, rearend, or elsewhere. The camera view is displayed in real-time on a 2.4-inch color LCD screen. If you need to check for a burned piston or a bent valve without disassembling the whole bank, this is the tool you need.
Our team has used the camera for checking piston surfaces at the track, and recently used it to check for alignment of intake runners to the cylinder head ports in a new motor during assembly—owing to the wide uses that such a device affords.
Track Pack/Chemical Kit
It can take a cabinet full of various greases, lubricants, cleaners, and other compounds to keep a race car running through any myriad of situations. While a stockpile of such products isn’t necessarily a requirement for all racers’ needs, it’s good to have the basics, and JEGS has put together just that in a single package designed for racers.
We come full circle on this kit, from cleaning it up, getting dirty, and cleaning it up again. – Kevin Brown, JEGS
The kit (PN 68065196AAK) includes JEGS High-Pressure Copper Anti-seize for use on spark plugs, lug nuts, or other items that would incorporate a good deal of heat and need to be removed. Their Red Bolt Locker, comparable to Loctite, keeps high-vibration fasteners tight and secure, while a tube of RTV silicone Gasket Maker is provided for sealing intake gaskets and bolts.
Four cans of Mopar-branded brake cleaner are included for cleaning up brake residue, and once you’ve done the maintenance or repair and need to clean up, a pair of 30-pack Grime Boss hand wipes round it out.
“We come full circle on this kit, from cleaning it up, getting dirty, and cleaning it up again,” says JEGS’ Kevin Brown.
Here's a before, during, and after example of the Grime Boss hand wipes in use at the track.
Our Crew Chief and Shop Foreman, Sean Goude, spends his days and weekends at the track covered in grease and grit, and became an instant fan of the Grime Boss wipes supplied in this kit. “We don’t have a sink there at the track, so I’m pretty dirty all day. But those wipes work amazingly well…my hands will be purely black and they just clean right up.”
Garage Guard Mat
These mats from JEGS (PN 555-80176) are seemingly limitless in their uses. The mats sport Oil-Dri technology that absorbs leaks, spills, and spray that will stain and potentially damage surfaces. With a non-slip polypropylene (essentially plastic) backing, the mat absorbs the fluid and serves as a barrier between the fluid itself and the floor underneath. So you can just imagine all the places you could use such mats, besides just your racing program. Of course, in the context of this article, the floor of your trailer would be an excellent start, but these would be right at home on your garage floor underneath your daily drivers, your lawnmowers, in the driveway under your car while you’re working on it, or any other range of situations.
“Every race vehicle isn’t without its minor leaks and spills from time to time, and no one wants to see that stuff on their trailer floor or garage floor, or have to clean it up. The mats are a perfect size for placing underneath your dry sump oil tanks, oil pans and oil fittings. We all know transmissions leak sometimes, as well, so they’re perfect to fit right underneath the back half of your oil pan and the front half of your transmission simultaneously.”
Our team uses a full-size pit mat at the track, but the Guard Mat has served as a perfect barrier when changing transmissions or converters to keep from getting unwanted fluid on the more expensive flooring mat. “The mat really does a great job of soaking up all the oil and fluid so I’m not rolling around in it, tracking it around, and making a mess,” says Goude.
JEGS’ padded, foam Pit Mat provides a soft, washable surface for our crew to lay or kneel on while working on cars at the track. These mats are fully washable, in the event that you spill fluids on them while at work.
JEGS’ own branded Pit Mat (PN 555-80051) is, as the name implies, a cushioned mat to make working on the car a little easier on the back and the knees as you work on your race car, be it at the track or in the shop. Like the Garage Mat, they’re made out of polypropylene, which Brown describes as similar to a high-density fleece material. This mat, being less dense than the Garage Mat, allows it to be cleaned should you spill oil on it whilst removing a drain plug or something to the sort. It should be noted that they do resists stains, oil, and most automotive chemicals, and don’t retain water, for those cases where you accidentally leave it outside your trailer overnight.
This is a great cushiony-type product to lay on if you don’t have a full-size mat in your pit, or you’re out in the sportsman pits in the grass working on your car. – Kevin Brown
“This is a great cushiony-type product to lay on if you don’t have a full-size mat in your pit, or you’re out in the sportsman pits in the grass working on your car. You can use this to lay on or fold it over to kneel on as you’re working around or under the car to keep yourself clean,” Brown says.
These mats, as the guys in our shop have found, are excellent for saving your knees in the garage or at the track. For a process even as simple as removing or installing a set of wheels and tires, one has to get down on their knees. This foam mat, as anyone that’s used one can attest, goes a long way to alleviating knee pain from crawling around on asphalt or concrete.
The mats are two-feet by four-feet, and fold to two-feet by four-feet.
Not only do the Tire Totes provide a one-handed operation for carrying your extra sets of tires around at the track, but they provide UV ray protection for them, as well. This is particularly useful if you carry your tires in your truck bed or on a flatbed trailer.
These Tire Totes (PN 555-00036) are an excellent product idea and one that we surprisingly don’t see often in drag racing. But with an affordable option from JEGS on the market, that just might change.
These are really great for keeping UV rays off the tires when you’re transporting them. The tire stays covered so the rubber doesn’t deteriorate over time. – Sean Goude
More than simply a protective tire cover, the Tire Totes have a built-in handle so you can carry them around at the track or in your garage, while at the same time giving you a place to store and preserve your tires. These are designed to fit more of your small slick or radial tires, or street car tires, from 22 to 31-inch overall diameter and up to 11.5 inches wide. These have been perfect for us on BlownZ, with its 275 drag radial tires.
“You can store or carry the tires with them, and realistically, one of the nice things they do is keep your tires out of the sunlight, away from the UV rays,” says Brown. “In some cases, we have seen racers put these on their tires when they’re in direct sunlight, just to keep the tire pressure down.
“These are really great for keeping UV rays off the tires when you’re transporting them,” Goude says in agreement. “The tire stays covered so the rubber doesn’t deteriorate over time. If you’re throwing your tires in the back of your truck or on a flatbed trailer, they’ll always be covered. With the handle, it makes it easy to grab them, because it’s a one-handed operation.”
The handles provides an 80-pound capacity.
Tire Sun Shade
Speaking of keeping tire pressure down: that brings us to a product that you simply can’t go a weekend at the race track without seeing at least one example of, and that’s JEGS’ familiar, bright yellow sun shades (PN 555-65001).
The initiated certainly know why these exist, but for the uninitiated, they do serve an excellent purpose that’s key for racers and their crews. You see, heat—and direct sunlight more specifically—increase tire pressure. Likewise, cold air decreases tire pressure. It’s the former that the JEGS Sun Shades work to limit.
If you’re running a serious-horsepower car and you’re going to buy one thing, buy these. They’re absolutely one of the most important things you can put on the car. – Sean Goude
Race teams place the shades over the wheel openings to keep the sun off the tires as they tow to the starting line and sit in the staging lanes. This keeps the tire from getting any hotter than necessary. While teams will typically check and adjust tire pressure right before a run, there’s little they can manage in regards to heat other than keeping the sun off of them.
“If we leave our tires sitting in the sun for five minutes, it’ll raise the tire pressure three pounds,” says Goude. “If we’re in the lanes and there’s an oil down or something, the tires are going to be five to six pounds higher. Once we do the burnout it’s going to be exponentially higher, so by the time we launch the car, you could have a 10 pound increase in tire pressure. That’s just dangerous.”
These particular shades, measuring 44 inches by 35 inches, attach to the car using magnets. These are a perfect solution for a steel-bodied car, as ours is. If you have a fiberglass or carbon fiber quarter panel, there’s also a suction cup model, as well as a version that uses snap fasteners that are mounted semi-permanently to the quarter panel. JEGS also produces full tire covers that are tailor-made for open wheel dragsters and altereds.
Because our Camaro still has its steel quarters, we’re using a magnetic version of JEGS’ Sun Shades. A suction cup and snap fastener version are also available, as are full tire covers for open wheel cars.
“These are a must…a 100-percent necessity,” says Goude. “If you’re running a serious-horsepower car and you’re going to buy one thing, buy these. They’re absolutely one of the most important things you can put on the car.”
Of course, all of the items we’ve focused on here are a necessity in their own right, all depending upon the situation that you find yourself in at home or at the track. And JEGS has put them all together in affordable and quality packages that you can easily stock your trailer with to prepare for any job.