Born and bred for racing, Carroll Shelby’s prescription for a hairy-chested eight-cylinder engine shoehorned into in a small, lightweight British body made the Cobra a unique specimen among its competition. Getting your Cobra ready to tackle the curves, switchbacks and straights of your favorite race course for the first time involves a few common-sense preparations that’ll help keep your car looking and performing at its best.
Before you dive into these preparation tips, here’s an interesting Cobra fact: Hemmings notes that less than a thousand original Cobras, including the fire-breathing 427 Cobras, were assembled between 1961 and 1968. The original Cobra’s relative rarity spawned an entire cottage industry devoted to making thousands of Cobra replicas – at least until Shelby got back into the Cobra-building business with its CSX series chassis.
Track Day Checklist
If it’s your first time taking your Cobra out on the track, here are a few helpful things you can do to make your experience fun and, above all, safe:
- Check for any fluid leaks underneath your car. You’ll want to have any visible leaks taken care of before you enter the track. If oil or other fluids make their way onto the track surface, you’ll end up jeopardizing your own safety, along with the safety of your fellow drivers.
- Protect your headlights and fog lights with blue painters tape. Make sure you have two pieces in a crisscross fashion across each light. In the event that track debris or a collision breaks your headlights, this will keep the headlight glass and other debris from falling onto the track.
- Make sure you have the right tires for the track. You’ll want your tires that provide the best grip under acceleration and braking circumstances. Some Cobra owners opt for competition tires optimized for the track, such as the Kumho Ecsta V710. According to the manufacturer, this tire features a racing slick tread surface, but provides two circumferential grooves for legal DOT street use as well.
- Consider using a car bra. Track debris can do a number on any car’s paint finish, especially at high speeds. A car bra keeps your Cobra’s nose from getting scratched and pitted by the debris.
- Consider switching out your rubber brake lines for a set of DOT-approved braided steel brake lines. Rubber lines tend to crack and leak as they age.
- Make sure your Cobra is able to pass the “broomstick test.” According to the Northern California Racing Club, the top of your helmet should not rise above the broomstick when the broomstick is placed on top of the windshield and the top of your roll bar. Otherwise, you’ll wind up investing in a lower seat, a taller roll bar or both. Keep in mind that some Cobras didn’t come with the recognizable driver’s side roll hoop, meaning you’ll have to add one yourself or consider investing in an aftermarket roll bar for your vehicle.
Photo via Flickr user Nathan Bittinger
About the Author:
John Martin is a football (as in soccer) fan, but has learned to love American football from his New Jersey-born wife.