Workman concurs: "Yes, in fact, they have become almost a necessity."
In Thiesse's words, "Teams are able to fine-tune their low speed numbers more easily, therefore getting the most potential out of their chassis."
Reid continues that thought with the following: "Yes, it's all about grip, body control, and bump control. With less expensive, simpler shocks, you are always compromising between 'stiff enough' for body control without being overly stiff for the big bumps, or 'soft enough' for good grip and having no control for anything else. A modern racing shock can allow for optimization of all of these areas without sacrificing one for the other."
These pictures show the inner workings of a gas pressure shock. Moving the shaft up and do
Have teams transitioned away from the traditional ways of crutching bad setups with shocks, such as using a stiff LR shock rebound to help the car turn into the corner? "No, not completely, at least," says Reid. "Sure, the better teams have, but you'll still see plenty of the 'crutch factor' among the smaller teams. Having said that, in a pinch, you have to do what you have to do to get a balanced car. All of the theories are no good if you can't get a balance, and in that case even the best might throw a 'crutch' at one end or the other now and then."
Keyser adds, "With the teams better able to find that balance in the chassis, they are transitioning away from the use of crutches."
"Yes, they have," continues Workman. "The race cars, tires, engines, and available information have all gotten so much better that the shocks can be used for fine-tuning, and not to mask chassis problems."
Some rules now limit the selection of shocks the racers can use. Should track officials and touring sanctioning bodies loosen the rules on how much money can be spent on shocks, even in the stock classes? There was a slight division of opinions on this subject, but all make a strong case. From my experience, a racer will spend what he thinks will do the job, regardless of how much sense it makes or if it will truly help his car. That is the nature of racing and the people who are a part of it.
Gillespie states, "The pro touring series should be left open as to shock selection whereas the nontouring series should still have cost controls."
"No," echoes Workman. "Cost should always be considered. Spending limits are important for keeping people in racing. I feel that there should always be economy-type classes and unlimited classes. That way, a racer can choose what best fits his budget and still participate."
"Yes, absolutely," says Keyser in contrast.
Thiesse follows with, "Yes, the rules should definitely be loosened. Some shocks that are slightly higher in price can actually save the racer money. For example, the average racer may have 20 shocks in his trailer. With shocks that are racer revalveable, he will need far fewer shocks. He can have just 6-8 shocks to meet all of his needs. In addition, these shocks are also popular not only because of their adjustability, but also because of the lower cost of repairs. If you bend a shaft, you just call up and order one. You are not forced to buy another new shock."
"Absolutely," adds Reid. "So many times shock rules are written by someone who has no knowledge of how a shock actually works or what it costs to run this shock versus the cost of that shock over the course of the season. Like anything in racing, the purchase price is only a small part of the big picture. You can also make the case that a driver needs to learn about shocks and all that goes into chassis tuning if he's intent on moving up the ladder. For stock classes, I think teams are better off spending their time and money on better safety equipment, track time, and learning the basics of driving before getting into more expensive shocks."