I am neither proud nor ashamed of my coffee habit. I learned to drive in the Seattle area as Starbucks was well on its way to world domination, so I knew from an early age that a cupholder is one of the bare necessities a car must have. Even my race car! Adding a cupholder in my Porsche 944 is the best $3 I’ve ever spent. In fact, it may have even saved my engine.
My 944's interior had long been gutted in the name of adding lightness, installing the required safety gear, and having easier access to wiring and other parts. In place of the dashboard now is a simple horizontal roll cage bar and a rat’s nest of wiring that used to be hidden behind interior trim.
Over the summer, I needed to sort the car’s overheating issues. I attempted to troubleshoot the problem by warming the car up with a short drive, and then driving back home to see if the car overflowed boiling hot coolant once it was warm.
Fortunately, there’s a great variety of decent to good coffee shops close to home that could provide both the perfect short drive and my daily caffeine needs in one fell swoop. Problem is, the 944 didn’t have anywhere to put a standard to-go cup of coffee.
I’d run into this problem before. When I moved the car back into my neighborhood, I had no choice but to sit at the coffee house and finish my latté there instead of taking it to go. Sure, I can (and do) bring work with me to make an afternoon of sitting at a coffee house, but when you have a race car to fix at home, it’s best to take that coffee to-go.
The solution to this problem existed: a cupholder. If Andrew Collins could stick one on a motorcycle and use it, there’s no reason that I shouldn’t be able to stick one on my race car.
So, I put a cupholder in my race car and I, too, regret absolutely nothing.
Let me clarify, as there are legit racing cupholders (usually larger, to hold a big insulated container) for “drinks systems” sold at racing gear shops for the purpose of staying hydrated during a race. This is not one of those. This is the more common kind of beverage receptacle, designed to hold everything from home-blended smoothies to that woefully unhealthy Coco-Minto-Hazelnut Frappadingus Extreme (with whip) that you enjoy way too much. In my case, a good latté is enough.
Adding a cupholder to race car is simple, so long as you didn’t put your dashboard back in. I didn’t opt for a particularly large cupholder given that my snooty coffee orders usually come in a smaller cup. I picked the simplest, lightest version of a beverage-holding device that I could find at the neighborhood O’Reilly’s, the likes of which is listed online for $1.49.
I also got a hose clamp that was just bigger in diameter than the dash bar of my roll cage. You can pick those up for around a dollar if you don’t already have an extra hose clamp floating around from a previous project.
Installation was simple: I looped the hose clamp around one of the loops of the plastic cupholder, and affixed the whole assembly to the dash bar between my 944's gauge pod and kill switch.
I made sure to tighten it down as much as I could to reduce the likelihood of the cupholder moving out of its upright position. I still occasionally try to turn the hose clamp screw every now and then just to make sure it’s still on there tight.
The little tab that usually hangs this cupholder onto interior pieces in a regular car sticks up, but it’s not really in the way of anything. I immediately tested the cupholder out through the neighborhood Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s drive-thru, and it worked! For less than $3, I had achieved motoring perfection: the ability to enjoy a cup of coffee in my race car.
The good part is, if I ever actually get good at racing and need that extra sliver of a pound tossed out of my car to go faster, the cupholder is easily removable. In the meantime, this really makes driving anywhere to test my race car out a lot more enjoyable.
My coffee habit may have even saved my car’s engine. I had taken the car to Harris Hill Raceway to see how it would run after tweaking a few things at home, which it did all afternoon long without drama. It was a hot summer day, so I drove through the Dunkin Donuts closest to the track on the way home for the biggest iced coffee that could fit in the cupholder. While I was waiting, I noticed that the fans weren’t coming on despite the car getting hotter and hotter to where both fans should be turning on to cool it down.
So, I let the car cool off a bit before getting on the freeway just to be safe. On the freeway, air would be constantly circulating through the radiator and thus, cool the car a bit better than a crawl through a drive-thru. Sadly, my car eventually overheated anyway and I had to pull over before I got home, thanks to several cooling system components that were no longer working properly.
Yet if I hadn’t noticed that something didn’t look and sound right while I was waiting for coffee, I’m not sure I would have watched my temperature as much on that drive home. I could have done much worse damage to the car than a little bit of bubbling coolant if I hadn’t been looking for that telltale abnormal spike in coolant temperature.
If you keep your race car at home and are constantly tinkering with it, consider adding a cupholder. You’re just not living until you can enjoy your favorite non-alcoholic beverage from the hilariously noisy front seat of your own race car.