In our humble opinion, a good set of gauges should be one of the very first mods made to any hot rod. Idiot lights are called that for a reason. You need to know what’s going on with any modified engine. You don’t have to go crazy with the number of gauges, but at a bare minimum you should have oil pressure, water temp, and voltage. All three of those can give you critical insight into what’s going on under the hood and can even foretell brewing problems. After that, tailor any other gauges to what the car’s used for. Drag race? You need an accurate and easily seen tachometer. Forced induction? Air/fuel ratio and fuel pressure are ones we like to have. Road course? Oil temp is a good one to add.
If going fast in a straight line is what gets you excited, a good set of drag radials will transform your traction and instantly put your power to better use. That’s because you can’t accelerate at maximum potential if your hard-compound street tires are struggling to put the power down. Every little bit of tire spin is lost e.t., so just swapping out the rear tires can make a huge difference in both your lap time and your 60-foot time (or just your stoplight-to-stoplight time) by allowing you to hit the pedal harder without creating a smoke show. We’re fond of Nitto’s NT05 and the even more street-friendly NT555R, since they’ll give you the grip without sacrificing street driveability. Like carving corners? Save up for another pair for the front; they make amazingly effective autocross tires too.
You can only go as fast as you can stop, so make sure you can stop as fast as mechanically possible for your combination. The right set of brake pads can make all the difference in the effectiveness of your braking system, so make sure to match your pads to what you plan on doing with your car. Taken to the extreme, yes, that could mean that you need more than one set sitting around; such as a set for street driving and another that is more suited to road course or autocross duty. For dual-duty cars, there are options that walk the line fairly well. Hawk, EBC, and Raybestos all offer several options. The HP Plus Autocross Brake Pads from Hawk (shown), for example, are designed to take the heat of the track, and get you home safely without having to change back to street brake pads.