Performance mods, where do you even get started? To get faster at Autocross & Track Sprint competitions the best mods you can do are rather basic. Most can be installed in only a few hours or less with basic tools and skills.
I'm going to go through the best 8 mods that will give you the most bang for the buck for getting faster at these competitions. This list is geared towards the beginner to intermediate driver using their daily driver or street driven weekend fun car.
1. Driver Mod - Spending some time studying up on advanced driving techniques will do more than any mod. Trail braking, left foot braking, line selection, front & back siding a cone are all important things to learn about. Another overlooked driving tool is being able to collect & review data from your runs. You can download the TrackAddict app for free on to your phone and use it at the events. It will allow you to compare your runs to see where you went faster or slower. Recommendation: Beyond Seat Time - Online Course
2. Tires - No other mod will even come close to the difference that upgrading to a set of high performance summer tires will make. With the extra grip your car will accelerate quicker, stop quicker & handle better. I repeat, good performance tires are the best mod you can do! Recommendation: The Bridgestone RE71RS is a solid option while The Zestino Gredge is a decent locally available budget option. See an overview of the best tires HERE
3. Brakes Pads - If you're not using performance brake pads, this will be an easy & effective upgrade. You don't need anything overly high end here to reap most of the benefits. You just want something that bites a little harder and can handle higher temps to avoid brake fade. This will also be a good time to change your brake fluid if it's over 2 years old. Recommendation: Hawk HPS 5.0 brake pads are a solid option, while any new off the shelf DOT 4 rated fluid is adequate.
4. Performance Alignment - A relatively cheap mod to get done that can make a significant difference in how your car responds on the track. Going to a performance setting will make your car more responsive and can help even out tire wear. As for a starting point for a car that still gets daily driven:
Front: All Cars
Rear: AWD & FWD Cars
Rear: RWD Cars
1/16” of toe in per side
For a more aggressive setting, add an extra degree of negative camber all around & use 1/16" of toe out per side in the front.
Most cars in stock form won't allow much for camber adjustments. The use of camber bolts can be utilized to work around that. These can be purchased online or at auto parts stores for about $20.
5. Engine Tune - Another easy mod to do that can really help out a lot of cars. Not only will it add more power, it can also fix some annoying drivability issues that your car might have when pushed hard. You will also get a more aggressive throttle map, making your car more responsive to throttle inputs.
6. Shocks & Struts - Going to a performance shock can really help out your car. A stiffer shock can help your car transition better through the turns and control body roll. Newer cars that have optional factory sport adjustable shocks don’t overly benefit from upgrades, however older cars do. Recommendation: Koni Yellows & Bilstein B8 are solid choices.
7. Weight Reduction - You don’t need to get too crazy here, just remove anything extra in your car that is loose & get some light weight rims. Items such as spare tires, jacks, floor mats and aftermarket subwoofers can all be pulled out to drop some weight. Another easy one is showing up with less fuel in your tank. You most likely won't burn more than 1/3rd of a tank of fuel at these events. Just make sure you have enough to get home!
8. Sway Bars - Stiffer sway bars are a good way to increase handling without compromising your street ride. Recommendation: FWD & AWD cars respond best to a stiffer rear bar while RWD cars to a stiffer front bar.
And that's it! Stick with these and you’ll be well on your way to building a car that can get you on the podium!