Your track car is no fun in the garage. Sure, maybe you give it a celebratory detail job after a weekend of hard lapping, but the place where you want your track car to excel is on track. And it can’t do that if it’s broken, or acting suspicious, or constantly being a hassle.
1. Pick the right car.
“This is always a tough decision for individuals because people want to drive what they want to drive,” Lomas explains, “but for us, we need to start with cars that are inherently tough enough to build from.”
For the Rent4Ring crew, they have another built-in easy button in the form of the Lomas’ institutional knowledge. “Having some experience on the car development side of things,” Lomas continues, “I know that there’s some Easter eggs hiding in the spec sheets. Things like bigger brakes for German market models, or larger radiators for units bound for the Middle East desert.”
And cooling particularly is a huge factor for the rental vehicles because, let’s be honest, customers are not always great on watching gauges. So Rent4Ring picks cars for their rental fleet with standard or available overkill cooling systems so that’s never a worry.
While not many cars sold stateside have secret Autobahn packages, we do have some available hot-weather and extreme-duty packages as well as a robust aftermarket eager to supply heavy-duty cooling components. Some research up front regarding the available heat mitigation if often time well spent.
A factor that significantly contributes to that heat: horsepower. One of the byproducts of big power is big heat, and the more power an engine makes, the more heat you’ll need to manage.
The battle starts with choosing the right car. Rent4Ring is transitioning to a fleet of Minis and four-cylinder Supras based on research that shows both cars “overcapable” for track use thanks to lots of cooling and brakes plus understressed engines. Photography Credits: J.G. Pasterjak
At some point, you may need to ask yourself what you’re really looking for: Do you want a 250-horsepower car that can run all day or a 450-horsepower car that needs to take a break every few laps?
Learning what breaks and how to fix it are also key to picking the right car. “Unless there’s an incident, we hardly ever needed to replace hubs on our BMW 1 Series,” Lomas points out. “But we do need to replace driveshaft couplers regularly, but they’re inexpensive and easy to do in a few minutes during regular maintenance.”
Are you looking at a car that requires a specialized part or service on the reg? Or with a known weak link that’s difficult or expensive to replace? Those costs could easily suck up money you’d rather use for entry fees.
2. Use the right parts.
“Cheap parts are a false economy,” explains Lomas, a firm adherent to the “buy once, cry once” mindset. “We use what are pretty much the most expensive brake pads you can buy, which are Endless MA45Bs at nearly €1000 a set, but we ultimately spend less in the long run because they last so long and perform brilliantly the whole way.”
The Rent4Ring fleet cars can easily see 1000-plus hard laps a year—over 13,000 miles—at the hands of drivers of all skill levels, yet each car will typically only need a set of fresh pads every 1000-1500 track miles.
In addition to the performance aspect of the good pads, there’s the insurance benefits. “Those €1000 pads seem cheap when they keep your car out of the wall where cheaper pads would have failed,” Lomas adds.
Rent4Ring’s Dale Lomas credits Endless pads with much of the durability of his fleet. Despite the steep initial buy-in, the cost is more than offset with longevity and consistent performance. Photography Credits: J.G. Pasterjak
Rent4Ring also equips its cars with top-notch suspension bits, like coil-overs from Öhlins. They’re durable, serviceable and supported by a strong knowledge base. “Cheap stuff breaks, and when it breaks, it’s disposable,” Lomas says. “Our dampers are built for endurance racing, so they take a lot of abuse, but if someone does manage to tweak one in an incident, there’s a whole industry of folks who can fix it.”
For non-performance parts that might be subject to wear or breakage, Lomas has a simple answer: “OEM, always. And ‘OEM’ means ‘OEM,’ not ‘OEM equivalent’ parts house stuff.
“Especially for soft bits like mounts and bushings,” he continues, “the OEM stuff is usually worlds better than the aftermarket stuff. And it hurts to walk into that dealership sometimes, but one trip there is better than multiple trips to the aftermarket parts house.”
The “right” parts can also mean track-focused parts that may wear prematurely on the street but thrive under harsh track conditions. For example, most of Rent4Ring’s fleet is equipped with 180-treadwear semi-slick tires designed for track use. They thrive under the constant abuse and repeated heat cycling and, like the brake pads, can last for thousands of miles of lapping.
3. Maintain obsessively with the highest-quality fluids.
The entire Rent4Ring fleet is on a 5000km fluid change schedule, which for some of their popular cars could mean as much as twice a month. This also means that nearly every day a car is on their lift receiving a fresh supply of Motul oil, transmission fluid, rear end lube and all associated filters.
Motul fluids are pumped in liberally and regularly. For even more heat resistance, Rent4Ring is transitioning from Motul’s RBF 660 brake fluid to its RBF 700. Motul 5W-40 and 15W-50 engine oils are ordered by the barrel to keep fluid maintenance religiously up to date. Photography Credits: J.G. Pasterjak
“It’s the most basic maintenance but also the most important,” Lomas stresses. “Once you let something go too long one time, there’s just no coming back when cars are in service constantly like ours. So it’s best and safest to just always stay ahead of the curve and never have to worry.”
While this may sound like an accelerated schedule with overkill consumables–Rent4Ring is now phasing in Motul’s RBF 700 brake fluid, which is almost suitable for use on Venus yet absolutely fine here on earth, even under the heaviest of feet–as with the brake pads, the additional costs of the luxury maintenance are more than offset by the savings of having a car out of service or, worse, damaged due to failure.
4. Inspect regularly.
“After every track session, each car gets an inspection in the [parking] lot,” Lomas says. This includes visual inspections of tires, wheel bearings, fluids and a general lookover of the car.
No keys get tossed to a customer without a thorough car inspection. This includes a visual and mileage/time log after each track session, with a comprehensive nut-and-bolt inspection completed every couple weeks. Photography Credit: J.G. Pasterjak
Any telltale signs of extremely hard use or misuse–tires rolled way over, rocker panels full of gravel or dirt, an unusual amount of brake dust, etc.–sends a car to the lift for an additional inspection. Lift inspections and full nut-and-bolts are also performed at every fluid service, and while that may seem like not very often, remember it’s about every two or three weeks for these rentals.
“The thing with inspections,” Lomas says “is that you really don’t want to find anything, and then when you don’t find anything, you feel a bit like you wasted your time with the inspection, so you’re not always motivated to do it. But finding nothing amiss is really the ultimate goal, right?” We can’t argue with that.
All of the Rent4Ring cars are logged on whiteboards with their current maintenance status, along with relevant notes from their recent inspection. This lets different techs know the whole story if direct interaction doesn’t occur, but for a sole maintainer, it also takes the burden off your brain for having to remember everything. Whiteboards are inexpensive and having one next to your car is one of the best real-time logs of what’s been done, what needs to be done, and what the current status is of everything.
Hit The Track in Peace
So despite 1400-plus words, there’s no amazing revelations here: Frequent maintenance with proper parts is the best recipe for on-track longevity. Wow, what a shocker.
But likely the big revelation here is just how much of a difference going that extra mile (or kilometer in this case) with maintenance can make. The Rent4Ring fleet is used hard. The Suzuki Swifts and BMW 1 Series coupes that have made up the bulk of the fleet for the past decade-plus have been exclusively used on track, and not just any track but one of the most punishing ones in the world, by everyone from raw novices to expert drivers to raw novices who thought they were expert track drivers. Lomas reports that nearly every bit of unscheduled downtime for any of their cars can be traced to driver error, not general wear and tear.
And the general takeaway message here is that money and effort spent staying on track may feel punitive while you’re doing it, but it’s never going to be as much as money and effort spent returning to the track after a lack-of-maintenance-based failure.