The problems associated with...
The problems associated with the stock upper control arms are evident in these photos. The upper arms actually have reverse angle to them with the inner mounts higher than the ball joints.
In the grand scheme of things, the Stock class is often a training ground for inexperienced teams to learn how to set up a race car. Why not provide the tools they need to make the necessary setup changes to those cars so that when the time comes to move up in class, the learning curve will be much shorter?
What We Preach In the pages of Circle Track, we preach the importance of proper moment center design, camber change characteristics, and steering that does not produce excess or deficient toe in the turns. We tell racers how to accomplish those ends in a highly detailed way. All of that knowledge makes for a very frustrated Stock class racer when he cannot do anything about the design of his car.
It was far easier when these guys didn't know any better and just went along with the way it was. Unfortunately, that has all changed. Imagine knowing that there is a cure for a certain illness, one that is fairly cheap to buy, and then not being allowed to use it. This is what the Stock class racers are going through right now.
If the racers were allowed...
If the racers were allowed to install weight jackers, a lot of time and effort would be saved. The team could dial in the handling balance more easily as track conditions changed.
In many cases, the racers take it upon themselves to bend the rules in their favor. One team made what seemed to be minor changes to the front suspension and it made a world of difference in how the car handled. They simply cut off the upper mounts and lowered them. In the process, they repositioned them so that they had a caster split and the proper cambers on each side of the car. They also installed ball joints with longer shafts to raise the upper ball joints and take angle out of the lower ball joints. The upper arms were cut and rewelded to provide more clearance for the ball joint shaft. This work involved mostly labor, and the only cost was for new ball joints. The old ball joints needed replacement anyhow, so there were really no additional costs, only labor and some welding.
The result of those changes was a better moment center location that made the front end more efficient and allowed the car to turn better. The steering felt better due to the caster split, and the tires had more grip due to the cambers being correct. The driver, a veteran of more than 20 years on dirt, said it was the best-handling car he had ever driven. The whole process took less than four hours.
Promoters, Please Wake Up I believe that the majority of promoters want better competition and more car count for each division that races at their tracks. Therefore, it shouldn't be hard to convince them that allowing these simple changes would benefit everyone involved-racers, fans, and owners. Some- times, the resistance is just a matter of the officials not knowing exactly what the racer is up to when they see a deviation from the rules.
I had such an experience at a touring race when the officials saw that some of the teams, ours included, had changed the shape of the radiator inlet boxes. The reshaping of the top of the box allowed more space for low pressure under the hood, and the car produced more aero downforce as a result. This allowed the car to turn better, which is always helpful. The officials were leaning toward outlawing this modification since none of the current rules covered that part of the car. I had a talk with the top official and explained in detail what was being done and why. I told him that rather than ban the practice, he would do much better by allowing all teams to make the modification, and that the cars would then turn better, resulting in a better show. Once he understood, he agreed to allow the teams to modify the air boxes without restrictions.
Most track officials and owners are in need of this kind of information so that they can make intelligent decisions regarding suspension rules. If everyone in a particular class at your racetrack met with the officials and explained why they needed a change in the rules and how it would benefit all, they would be hard pressed to say no without appearing unreasonable.