Making Better Race Teams By building Better Race Shops

Race Shop Plans & Race Shop Planning Help

This is an ongoing thought process that one must undertake to build the ultimate shop.

There are many things you need when Planning your Race Shop. Inspiration, imagination, experience, available space, organization, and money just to name a few. All of them fit together and all of them should work together. The primary reason for planning and building a well designed race shop is to make you a better racer. There might be some ego involved with many of the things you want and plan into your shop but the primary reason should be building to beat your competition. You don't race shops and you don't race trailers but a good design of each makes your racing life a whole lot easier. In planning the race shop the following priorities should be center stage:

1. Size, location, storage and work area. How big, how high, outside water tables, outside water flow/runoff, work benches, cabinets, storage of supplies and unused items. Nothing should be lying around that is in the way. A place for everything. Solid organized work areas, work benches, and work stations. . No machining near engine building, and no solvent products near painting. It all has to fit together. Don't forget the trailer parking - in or out? How high do you want your garage door? Don't laugh, I know a racer who built a shop and had a 13' tall trailer that wouldn't fit through the door. Don't forget about flooding. Don't build your shop on the lowest spot of your lot. Build your shop so the water flows away from it. Don't just try to block the water from getting to it. You will lose that battle. You cannot beat water and wind, remember that. We will discuss this later, but don't point your big doors into the wind. You will have dirt and dust everywhere and the door will lose. It's a simple "cycles to failure" equation for your door and the wind will win.

Much to think about here. Get a tablet and visualize all these things. A page for the outside and a page for the inside. Think big and plan big. If later you have to trim so what. At least it's all organized and nothing is left out. Throw in some landscaping ideas too. You want it to look nice don't you. If your trying to impress sponsors, believe me it matters. Don't forget to check ZONING. Don't build a nice shop and then find out it isn't legal. Also, make sure lines of sight for your neighbors view of the mountains isn't blocked by your new shop. Yes, many legal battles have occurred for just that reason. Check these things out now! Talk to your neighbors. Let them know what you want to do. defuse problems before they start.

2. Walls and Floors. How thick, how strong, local building codes on wind and other weather considerations. Don't skimp here. Pour a nice thick slab for your floor. It is going to be supporting more weight than you think. Start adding up the weight of everything and make sure your architect knows what you need. Tell them the truth. Don't hold back trying to save money. You won't.

Also prepare now for what type of flooring you want. Your floor is the one thing that you and your visitors will see the most of. It impresses when it's done right. We will discuss floor coatings in our projects section. Your contractor, or you, will have to plan on reinforcements and vapor barriers if necessary for the particular flooring you have in mind. Color is big here as well. For your lighting to be effective your floor and walls must reflect light to where you are working but not waist resources on lighting areas that you aren't in. Now is the time to decide on color scheme for inside and out.

Are you going to use an interior liner panel on a steel building or Drywall (sheetrock), or a combination of both? It's time to keep track of your running costs. Over plan, you can always reduce later on the frills if over budget. Shop around and talk to as many people as you can. You will get a feel for what works for the successful racers in these areas. Your local codes my dictate most of this for you.

3. Power Organization. Many things to consider here. You may have choices of electrical service and you may not. I haven't seen too many shops that really need more than 200 amp service. You might have the opportunity for 400-500 amp service but it gets expensive quick! Not much need for 3 phase power either. Single phase will work just fine for 99.5% of most shop applications. Outlets, Outlets, Outlets, need me to say more? 240V power also. Study your compressor and welder needs for most people. Some may also need to figure in blasting cabinets, flow benches, dynos, lifts, etc. Now is the time to fit it all in. Once the power guys trucks roll off the lot, you have what you have. Also time to think about over-head power lines or buried lines. We buried our lines because of frequent violent weather. No down lines for us. They are in the ground. But, burring a power line takes permits and very strict inspectors. When they say 6ft deep, they mean 6ft. When they say 2ft wide they mean 2ft. The back fill is multiplayer and multi-material and they inspect it all very carefully. It is involved but the look is clean and the lines are safe. But this may or may not be an option in flood prone areas. Check with your local power company and building codes.

Word of warning here before we continue. Talk to multiple sources about building codes and best practices. No one knows it all and many who should know, don't! Some will lie right to your face because they don't want to tell you they don't know. Many are paid to know regulations and don't. Get everything you discuss with an official in writing! When it comes to construction, plumbing, electrical, roofing, zoning, etc., make sure your contractor, you, the inspectors and the regulations are all on the same page and in agreement. Don't rush things right at this critical moment. This is where the dreaming stops and the hard work begins!

In Part 2 we will discuss:

Heating, Cooling, Water Supplies, Doors, Windows, Safety and a whole lot more...


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