The advantage of this portable tool cart, versus just using the bench in a race trailer, is the ease of mobility. Wherever you are around the car, you can easily move the cart to have access to your tools.
As people work under the hood of racecars, things get set down. It isn’t intentional. The human brain needs to concentrate on one thing to try and get it right, like fixing the engine. The problem arises when the hood comes down and the racecar goes back out on track with tools still underneath it. This is a bad thing.

My team has a lot of stupid little rules. I say they’re stupid because as an outsider you may think some of these rules are bit ridiculous. However, our stupid little rules have come from learning things the hard way during years of racing. For example, we have a rule that says if the hood of the racecar is down, it must have the hood pins attached. We do this so the car doesn’t end up on track with the hood folded over the windshield. It’s hard to win races when you can’t see out the windshield.

We decided to cure a possible $3,000 engine problem with a $100 tool cart. We purchased this durable plastic tool car from Uline and came up with a new rule: no tools on the car! All tools shall remain in the tool cart.
We added some custom decals to our cart and then filled the bottom with lots of rags. You simply cannot have enough rags at the racetrack. We opted to upgrade our cart with one set of locking wheels to keep it from rolling around in the paddock.

Recently we added a new stupid rule: no tools on or in the racecar. This rule ensures that we don’t end up on track with a ratchet under the brake pedal or a screwdriver in the fan belt. To enforce this rule, we purchased a simple tool cart with some caster wheels. The concept is to use the tool cart as a portable work bench when doing projects on the racecar. Tools go into the cart, not the car. We chose a plastic tool cart for its lightness and upgraded the caster wheels to have brakes to keep the cart from rolling around in the paddock — I’ve never been in a level paddock once in my life.

The tool cart only works if it doesn’t become a place where everybody sets down their empty beer cans and other trash. We only keep tools that are being used for a project or tools that are used after each track session. A magnetic tray is a handy touch when working with small bolts.
Once the cars come in after a track session, the red tool cart is ready for action, with specific tools in place to help the post-session inspection go smoothly. This simple cart helps our team be more productive and efficient between sessions.

Once we started using the tool cart, I don’t know how we got by without it for so many years. It is incredibly handy and it helps keep our paddock space organized and clean. Most importantly it works to ensure no tools remain inside the racecar, which is the ultimate goal. We have found that the tool cart can quickly fill up with garbage and water bottles if it is not policed regularly. We try to empty the top of the cart out after each project is completed on the car to keep things tidy. Some tools remain in the cart at all times because they are used continually. Things like rags, Simple Green, air gauge, impact gun, etc.

Whatever current project is happening, all of the parts and tools are in the cart, in one place, during that task. This helps on two fronts: 1) Easy to locate parts; 2) Keeps tools out of racecar interior.

The portable tool cart isn’t the most complicated engineering wizardry that will make your racecar faster.  However, it is an inexpensive, simple, easy-to-implement concept that will ensure your racecar doesn’t head out on track with a pair of pliers rolling around on the floor pan. Choose your own adventure.

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Image courtesy of Rob Krider

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