The shock dyno has become...
The shock dyno has become a valuable tool. It has become affordable for many racers, but some companies offer at-track service at major racing events, with qualified technicians ready to assist.
Are racers opting now, more than ever, for more expensive, adjustable shocks? Thiesse states, "Racers are gaining knowledge and experience on how the adjustments affect their chassis, and hence are more willing to spend the money for this adjustment capability."
"Absolutely," says Reid. "It doesn't take long to figure out one high-quality, adjustable shock can take the place of a boxload of nonadjustable, nonrebuildable, or nonrepairable shocks. As teams become more sophisticated in chassis tuning, they'll want to make a small adjustment in compression or rebound that can make a big difference in tire life throughout a race distance that would have been impossible, or at best awkward, without an adjustable shock."
"Yes, mainly due to less and less practice time, racers are looking for quicker adjustments to maximize their practice time," offers Gillespie.
"If it is in a racer's budget, they will always opt for adjustable shocks, and even the budget guys realize it is money well spent," Workman says of the feedback he gets from the teams.
"Yes," says Scott Keyser, "I believe they are, and that could be a good thing as long as they fully understand beforehand how to properly use them."
The work of the shock can...
The work of the shock can be translated into simple performance. If the car is set up with the complete package that is right for the conditions, the results will reflect that.
With the trend of having more adjustment available in shocks, have the racers become comfortable with that technology so they can properly use what is offered? "Yes, and it also means that shock dynos are more readily available to the racer," says Workman.
"Some yes and some no," Keyser notes, "and the shock dyno has definitely helped many racers to understand how a shock works and what effect the adjustments have."
Gillespie believes about 30 percent of racers are knowledgeable and 70 percent are still learning, while Reid says racers are not comfortable with the technology, but they are in the process of adapting to it. "Some are still afraid to turn the knobs for fear of losing what they know works," Reid states. "I think that comes from the inconsistency of some of the shocks they might have used in the past. We always encourage teams to 'survey the clickers'-and that is to turn the knobs and see what happens. It's a good way to get a feel for what is happening when you turn the knobs."
In simple terms, Thiesse says, "Tuning the shock to the track surface takes a well-balanced combination of understanding the adjustments the shock has and how these adjustments will affect the chassis on the track."
some top dirt Late model car builders believe most gains can be made by proper shock selection. In touring Late Model divisions, do the top teams seem more interested in high end shocks? "Yes, all of the top teams have the fully adjustable twin-tube and mono-tube shocks ready at all times," notes Workman.
Reid agrees: "Yes, it only makes sense that they would be arriving at that conclusion; as basic chassis designs and layouts become more evolved, there are fewer and fewer gains to be had in that area. The next obvious source for research and significant improvements is shock absorbers."
Agreeing with those statements, Thiesse adds, "The top teams today are so competitive that they have to take advantage of every opportunity to gain a slight edge over their competition. The more expensive shocks typically have tighter tolerances, meaning improved performance along with the ability to make an external adjustment in a matter of seconds."
Gillespie offers a slightly different opinion. "Yes," he says, "but are they necessary? No! The shock is only one part of the tuning equation."
With new trends such as the big bar and soft spring setups now used on asphalt, and the more flat running attitude of the dirt Late Models, have adjustable shocks helped the teams better tune these setups? Can the shocks of today complement the popular softer spring setups in both dirt and asphalt? "It is much easier to tune the chassis to the racetrack by using some of the advancements now available," says Keyser.