What new products are out or planned for the near future that will further add to the technology explosion related to racing shocks for the average racer? "We are developing a base valve shock that will offer the same advantages of nonpressure shocks and high-pressure shocks all in the same package," offers Keyser.
"A truly adjustable shock in that it adjusts all four elements of a shock, not just low-speed bleed," notes Gillespie. "It uses a remote canister that can run high gas pressure or zero gas pressure."
"The X-stack valving system is available with a catalog and a shim kit," Reid says. "The team can pick the shock curve they want from the catalog, build it, and be certain that is what they have got. It eliminates the need for a shock dyno. We've had Cup teams tell us they use the X-stack system for test days when they don't bring the truck with the dyno."
Workman, however, "cannot answer for competitive reasons."
For Thiesse, "Our new base valve shock is becoming very popular among some of the teams looking for a new advantage. This series of shock can reduce the rod force pressure to almost 5 pounds without causing cavitations in the oil while giving the driver more feel in his or her car. In the near future, we have a truly independent double adjustable shock coming out."
What advice would you offer the new racers who are somewhat confused as to the benefits of shocks in the overall scheme of things? "Read whatever you can about the subject, keep an open mind, and observe," offers Reid. "Don't be afraid to ask questions of the manufacturers and find one who speaks your language. Once you have picked a shock and have a basic starting point setting, begin to survey the adjustments so you can learn what is available for you to work with and keep notes."
Keyser's advice is, "Stick to the basics and learn as you go. Pick a company that will work with you. Ask other racers what they are doing. If you are a true beginner, the top racers will often share ideas with you faster than with their week-to-week major competitors. You are not a threat yet, so take advantage of the situation while you can."
Thiesse thinks along the same lines. "Keep it as simple as possible to start out," he says. "Shocks can greatly improve your effort, but can also Band-Aid a poor chassis. Experience and technical knowledge will allow you to know what shock adjustments to make and at what time."
Please share some closing thoughts. "All of the chassis, tires, engines, and information are getting better," says Workman. "Fine-tuning will become where races are won or lost. Shocks are the fine-tuning part of your car. If your race team is not on top of your shock program, you will be at a disadvantage. Get educated about shocks."
"Develop a shock maintenance program," adds Gillespie.
Keyser sums it all up by saying, "There is no magic in going fast; it's all about compromises. The teams that learn more and can develop their cars' chassis and setups so that they compromise less will be at an advantage no matter what."
"We always say that you can tell who really knows shock absorbers by how much they admit they don't know," adds Reid. "Shocks are an evolving technology, and what works today may not work tomorrow. Tires change, track surfaces change, drivers change, and so does every other variable in racing car setups. Keeping your eyes open for changes and adapting to them will help the racer be more successful."
By all means, get acquainted with your shock tech and don't be afraid to ask questions if the need arises. In the end, the only dumb question is the one you don't ask.