For us, the off-season is like pressing a “reset” button. After the checkered flag at the last race of the season, the cars usually aren’t in their full, recognizable, 100 percent form until the green flag of the next season’s opening race.
It starts in the composite department of the shop with a body fit. To start, the car is stripped down to the bare carbon to check each piece’s weight and check for damage from wear and tear throughout the season. It’s like bringing the car back to square one. After the car is bare, the composite guys will start to glue the car back together. They make sure all of the pieces have nice seams, so the car is as smooth as possible to create better aerodynamics. The glue is a mixture of a high-solvent and resin, which holds each carbon fiber piece together. The carbon usually sets overnight or bakes in the oven for about 2 hours, depending on our time constraints.
Once the resin is set, more detail work is done to smooth out the whole thing and make sure every seam is properly set. It’s a lot of sanding and buffing to get it just right. Again, the point is to fill in the holes and have as few air gaps as possible for the sake of aerodynamics on the track.
After the body fit is completely done, it’s handed over to our painters to get a first coat of primer. Eventually it will get its full race paint colors and decals (but that’s a whole new post for another time).
The whole body fit process usually takes a good week, but we can do it in a few days if needed. We have to re-build the cars following each race weekend. The different tracks/courses require different adjustments on the car, so we’re always changing them up.
It’s time consuming and our work must be very precise, but that’s exactly what makes racing competitive—the details.