Racers such as dirt Late Model...
Racers such as dirt Late Model star John Mason have embraced the racing technology. With the changing conditions on dirt, the winning driver keeps extensive notes of the shock combinations needed and makes the changes accordingly.
We asked some leading shock technicians in the industry pointed questions about how shocks rank among today's racers. The answers may surprise you.
"I had a guy call up about a month ago that was looking for certain force numbers for compression and rebound at 1 inch per second. He told me what he was trying to do, and I totally agreed on his approach. I was very impressed with his knowledge of how shocks affected his car, especially when he told me it was only his first year in a Street Stock."-Nate Thiesse, QA1/Carrera Shocks
In just the last year, racers on dirt and asphalt have dramatically changed the way they set up their cars. New directions are being explored, and with the associated changes come a whole new way of using the racing shock to fine-tune those setups. Knowing these trends were developing and that the top shock companies must be taking notes, we decided to speak with some shock gurus and see what was up. Here's what they had to say.
Do you think there is more awareness of the value of tuning with shocks among today's racers? All of the respondents answered "yes" to this question, as evidenced by the opening statement by Nate Thiesse.
When you're racing, you need...
When you're racing, you need to have the right combination to win. Understanding your shocks and getting the right ones for the circumstance separates the winners from the rest of the pack.
"Absolutely, you cannot pick up a racing magazine or watch a race on TV without seeing something about shocks," says Bill Workman with Afco Shocks.
Jeff Reid with hlins Shocks tells us, "Many racers are still not using it to full advantage. Shocks are not a cure-all for race car handling problems. The basic setup has to be good, but once the basics are right, shocks can make the difference between First and Second."
Overall, we see the average racer becoming more and more educated on how his or her car works. Do you agree, and if so, can you share some examples of this? "Yes, through racing schools and seminars, books and videos, manufacturers' tech services, computer programs, and the Internet," offers George Gillespie of Pro Shocks.
Scott Keyser with Integra Shocks, a division of Port City Racing, tells us, "The cars are more equal now than ever before. Winning today comes down to adjustability. The teams who master how to adjust their cars will have the advantage over those who do not."
The shock sits as one component...
The shock sits as one component in the entire suspension system. Understanding the role of the racing shock is critical. You need to know what effects are felt with shock changes and how it impacts the entire package.
"They have to be [more knowledgeable]," says Reid. "The sport is way too competitive, and as the teams at the top levels of the sport refine and advance their knowledge of how and why a car works, there will always be a filtering down of that knowledge. Information from books and magazines like Circle Track are helping. Now teams want to know what shocks they are bolting on and are starting to look at dyno curves and making the selections themselves."
What are the current trends in shock design related to dirt racing and asphalt racing? "The gas pressure shocks are gaining more acceptance in the dirt marketplace," says Workman. "We have been able to reduce the rod pressure as well as offer the valving style that dirt cars like, and the racers are getting more comfortable with them."
Gillespie agrees: "We are seeing more high gas pressure shocks on dirt. Racers recognize that they need non-high pressure shocks for low-traction type [slick] racetrack conditions."
"Racers want to control entry," offers Keyser, "and the mono-tube shock helps. How? With gas pressure to control compression. The shocks can be made to be position-sensitive to work in defined areas of movement."
"Asphalt racers are surprisingly getting away from the usage of high gas pressure shocks," says Gillespie. "They are going to low-pressure type shocks with a better front tie-down package [higher rebound] without sacrificing traction."
"The use of aggressive rebound packages on the front, also called big nose, or stiff low-speed shocks, is becoming more popular now with the big bar, soft spring asphalt setups," says Workman.