Mark Bush conducts his RaceWise School in a lecture hall at Lyon College.
Everything we do in life would be easier if we understood how it works. If you start a new career, you go through some type of training. If you buy your kid a new toy, it (the toy, not the kid) will have an instruction manual. So why would you race without either one of these?
I, like a lot of you, didn't know where to find this information or training, so I went to other drivers and crews for information. Some of the information helped and some didn't, but every time I asked a question and received an answer, my next question was always "why." Rarely did I ever get the answer to that "why" part of the question. No one could tell me why because all of the answers I was getting were actually "track science."
RaceWise is a hands-on school with plenty of AFCO chassis parts to explain complex topics.
Track science is defined as a set of commonly held beliefs generated from a group of racers talking about something, be it shock selection, porting heads, or any other number of topics. Through those conversations, the majority come to an agreement, and that agreement turns into fact. Over time, those facts are passed around from driver to driver, class to class, and eventually, generation to generation. This is a primary reason we see racers, both drivers and crews who have made it to the very pinnacle of racing, struggle when they switch teams or go to a new track. Somewhere along the line they were exposed to "track science."
So what can you do?
For starters, you can subscribe to this magazine. Read it cover to cover each month and then save every issue for reference. Now that the shameless self-promotion is out of the way, there is another way.
I had been eyeing the RaceWise Dirt Track Chassis School for some time, but like many racers, I had procrastinated signing up for it. Each year was a different excuse: The dates conflicted with my schedule, I didn't have the money to hop on a plane, and so on. But this year was different. With my calendar clear, I signed up and made my reservations to go to Batesville, Arkansas.
Bush will bring in racers from around the country as guest speakers. Here the discussion i
The RaceWise Dirt Track Chassis School is owned and operated by Mark Bush, cofounder of AFCO Racing Products. With over thirty years of designing, building, testing and developing racecar suspensions and components, Bush has a world of experience to draw upon. He started doing classes in 1984, and over the years the classes became more and more popular. In 2002, Bush officially named his three day seminar "RaceWise." The school has helped thousands of racers, from hobbyists to World 100 winners, improve their racing knowledge and skills. Students from almost every state, as well as Canada, England, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa, have benefited from the three-day school.
Bush conducts four sessions each year. They are held in different regions of the country to accommodate racers from all over the nation.Our class took place at Larry Shaw Race Cars in Batesville, Arkansas.
Larry Shaw and his company do not need an introduction. In 2007 alone, Shaw-built cars notched over 800 Feature Wins with 221 different drivers, plus 40 championships in 19 different states. Larry's shop is state of the art and provides the perfect backdrop for the RaceWise School. They're great people, too.
After the first day of class, I knew the title for this article. I thought I had learned a lot about late-model racing over the years, but I had realized how much I didn't know.
Mark Bush, RaceWise's founder, discusses proper spring selection.
The first day of class, Mark Bush asked a question that I will ask you. If you had to have heart surgery, would you go to a surgeon that has no schooling or training, although his buddy two doors down told him the best way to do it? Of course you wouldn't. So why then would you ask your buddy two pit stalls down how to set up your racecar?Makes you think, doesn't it? I'd be willing to bet that 90 percent of the people reading this article have done just that. Heck, I have.
Once Bush sets the tone with that question, he jumps right into a textbook that is almost 2 inches thick, and it's all about chassis setup. Bush admits that the RaceWise School is a "cram course." You get thrown so much information so fast that your head will be spinning by the time the class is over. However, the textbook is set up like a reference manual so you can refer back to it over and over again.
I found that the best technique is to listen closely and follow along, all the while taking notes; then go back each evening and review the day's lessons in the book. This is especially helpful since each section of the class builds upon the previous one.