Preparing for Speed Events

By Don Woods

A speed event is held on a closed circuit, sealed or unsealed, and can be a hillclimb, quarter mile drag, regularity or circuit sprint. A full description of these types of events can be found in the MG Car Club Handbook, commonly known as "The Blue Book".  Descriptions of the major events, including speed events, can be found here.

In preparing for these events, various components must be considered, some that are compulsory and some that are optional (but generally intended to make you more competitive and confident that your vehicle is in the best possible condition).

So let us consider these various components.


A vehicle should be clean and tidy without any loose objects in or around it. All unnecessary objects should be removed and those that are required must be rigidly and solidly attached. All lights, particularly the brake lights, must be in working order.

A fire extinguisher must be fitted and rigidly attached (no wire, cord, rope or plastic holders) and must be able to be reached by the driver while in his seat. It should not be within the driversí side of the cockpit.

For vehicles with rear-hinged bonnets, a second independent restraint system is required. This can be as simple as a piece of cord that will hold the bonnet shut if the primary lock fails.

Ensure that your seat is firmly fixed and provides support. Seat belts of at least the lap-sash type are required.

Wheels and Tyres

All spokes should be tested for tightness and the wheels spun for out-of-round or buckling. On the standard wire wheel width rims (41/2"), 185x60x14 tyres can be fitted that will improve the performance and handling of the car dramatically.

The handling can be further fine-tuned by adjusting the tyre pressures. It is usual to provide a differential front to back of anything from 2 Ė 5 psi. The actual tyre pressures depend on a number of factors such as wet or dry track, asphalt or dirt surface and the type of event. A good starting point for a dry track is 45/40-psi front/rear.

The wheel knock-ons should be tightened and checked again just before competing.

Suspension and Steering

All suspension components, arms, bushes, pins, tie rods, steering rack, shock absorber mounts and links, anti-roll bar mounts and links should all be checked and tightened as necessary. Fitting a larger diameter anti-roll bar (approximately 5/8" dia.) will assist in reducing rear wheel lifting under hard cornering.

The steering wheel should have nearly zero free play and be tight on the steering column. Make sure that the steering wheel nut is tight.


The brake fluid should be bled or replaced. It may be an advantage to fit harder brake pads. "Metal King" type will still give enough bite around town and will resist fading much better than standard pads under hard use. Ensure that the rear brakes are not binding and do not have excessive free movement. The brake pedal should be hard with minimal movement.


The engine should be thoroughly checked to ensure that it is performing at its optimum level. All aspects that control the performance should be checked, cleaned, adjusted and reset. So letís start.

The simple things like oil and water levels must be correct and, if they havenít been changed for a while, drained and refilled.

Spark plugs should be removed, cleaned (possibly replaced) and the correct gaps set (0.28-0.32 in.). The contact points also should be cleaned or replaced and set to 0.16 in. or 560 Ė600 dwell. While the plugs are out, take the opportunity to check and reset the tappet clearances, 0.15 in. cold. After the contact points have been set to the correct gap, the distributor can then be timed to provide 100 Ė 140 advance. The actual advance that is best for any particular engine depends on a number of factors that vary from engine to engine and from specification to specification, but the above settings should be a good starting point.

The carburetors need to be balanced and synchronized. Balancing ensures that each carburetor is drawing the same amount of air. To balance the carburetors, slacken off the linking throttle rod, remove the air cleaners and, while the engine is idling at normal operating temperature, listen through a piece of tube to the amount of hiss coming from each one. The hiss should be the same and can be changed by adjusting the throttle idle screws. When the hiss is the same, the throttle linkage can be tightened, ensuring that both throttles start opening at the same time (synchronized). There must be three return springs on the carburetors, one on each carburetor throttle and one on the throttle cable. Refit the air cleaners, top up, if necessary, the dashpots with the correct viscosity oil and ensure that the fuel mixture does not create any hesitation upon acceleration. Ensure that all the nuts, bolts and screws are tight and that the fuel hoses are in good condition.


The driver is also an integral part of the performance package. They must be fit and know what their car will do under different circumstances and, also, what they can do with the car to make it perform to its full potential. I donít think any of us ever reach this full potential because we usually do not spend enough time in the car exploring limits and techniques. The driver must also think about what they are about to do and how to go about it, plan the event and your part in it. We should participate in as many and varied events as possible, we are all learning at times.


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