There is a movement underway...
There is a movement underway to enact changes to many current stock class rules that now prohibit the changing of stock components. The need for better-handling cars supercedes the small outlay of cash required to do the job.
It is a basic premise in circle track racing that, in a perfect world devoid of cheaters, the horsepower output of your motor is strictly regulated as opposed to the "run what ya brung" practice, and that most of the performance enhancement should be done with the chassis and through improved driver skills. We know all about illegal high-dollar "stock" engines, and that is another subject altogether. The problem with the chassis rules in many Stock class divisions is that racers are restricted in what they can do to make the car handle better. Let's examine this situation and evaluate how we might be able to influence the governing bodies so that Stock class racing can improve as a whole.
The cars we are talking about are known by various names such as Street Stock, Hobby Stock, Pure Stock, Grand Stock, and Chargers, among other more localized names. The rules among racetracks vary, but most call for the suspension components to remain "OEM stock." That's designed to keep racers from spending money on aftermarket parts. Nonetheless, there's much that can be done to make these cars handle better and be more competitive by allowing changes to the control arm mounting points.
Many restrictions are placed on the circle track racers in the name of cost savings. While most agree that racing needs to be cheaper overall, there are certain areas where a small outlay of cash will reap huge benefits for the race teams, spectators, and track owners. Better competition, combined with fewer wrecks and caution periods, means happier race teams and pleased spectators. Allowing the teams to spend a small amount of money may yield huge benefits.
The car we are most concerned...
The car we are most concerned with is similar to this early '80s GM Monte Carlo. This is a dirt Hobby Stock car under construction earlier this year.
Cost is a relative term. Let's examine where the areas of cost related to Stock class circle track racing really lie. The most time and money a racer will spend in the Stock class, not counting the cost of tires, is in paying for and replacing parts such as fenders, spindles, control arms, and so on after the car is wrecked. This is in addition to the time spent searching for proper components. Time is money, isn't it?
It is safe to say that a typical stocker will be involved in many wrecks during the course of a year. If we can reduce the number of crashes, we can reduce the cost to the racer. Allowing the teams to properly set up the car will improve performance, reducing incidents caused by ill-handling race cars.
We receive letters and e-mail requesting advice for improving the handling for Stock class race cars. Among the most popular chassis available now are the GM "metric" cars made from 1979 to 1986 because they are so plentiful. The majority of all Stock class cars are GM cars, many of which are the metric chassis. Although the rear suspension in those cars is not ideal, the front holds the most potential for improvement.
The front geometry design on the Stock class cars is terrible. The moment center is not where it should be, the camber change (severe loss) is far from ideal, and the steering usually has excess Ackermann. The front of the chassis is the most important area on which we can work in order to improve overall handling and chassis-related performance, if the rules would allow us to make those changes.
One step to improve the front geometry is to change the angles of the upper and lower control arms. We can easily do this, if permitted, by installing aftermarket upper control arms, aftermarket adjustable inner mounts, and adjustable mono-ball joints. These parts are not very expensive and could do wonders for the handling of the cars if properly mounted.
Another area where the Stock class racer needs to make adjustments is in weight distribution. If the teams were allowed to install weight jackers, the weight distribution would be easy to adjust. Some racers install spacers above the springs to dial in the crossweight. Why not let them make it a little easier by using screw-weight jackers?