We have done Late Model projects before and had a lot of fun doing them. And we have reported on and supported high school racing programs in the past. The current project we are undertaking is a combination of those two and promises success on several fronts. Pete Raskovic is the team manager and the co-creator of a unique program that is a model for schools across America.

The Urban Force Racing Team is a group of eight Beloit Memorial High School students studying in the automotive technical program. This program is designed to give at-risk students a unique educational experience that leads to high school graduation.

The students will be setting up and maintaining an ASA Late Model racecar purchased by the late Ken Hendricks, founder of ABC Supply. The team raced for the first time at the Jefferson Speedway in May 2007. "Real-world experiences and a hands-on approach, in conjunction with classroom learning and knowledge, is the basis for the success of the Urban Force Racing Team," says Pete on the teams Web site.

The car is a brand-new Lefthander Late Model offset chassis. It will be raced in the Super Late Model division and driven by Dan Lensing, an experienced driver from that area. Many corporations are lending a hand in providing parts and other support to make this a success. We will approach this project just like any other. Here are the details.

I visited the shop in Beloit in early March and looked over the facilities and the car. This is a first class technical program with all of the tools needed to build and maintain this racecar.

Because this is a new chassis, we will be involved in educating the students as to how we set up an asphalt racecar from scratch. We also won't have to worry about metal fatigue or looking for cracked welds that might have been a result of on-track encounters, etc. What we will do is provide a process and guidelines for the students to follow.

My evaluation process involved a visual review of the entire chassis and a presentation to Pete and the group that explained how Circle Track and our support companies could help in making this project a success. The team has some experience with an older Late Model car that was raced last season. It is now time to start fresh and make something happen that we all can stand back from and be proud to have been a part of.

With this car, we will be evaluating the moment center location, setting the rearend alignment, designing for minimal rear steer, testing for front Ackermann effect, deciding on the weight distribution, and testing rear traction devices. All of the items we have presented as high priority in the pages of Circle Track will be looked at, measured and evaluated, and made better in context to a complete chassis system known as "the total package."

We will be installing new design components from many of our manufacturing partners for evaluation. The team is now in the process of installing a new body from Five Star Bodies, a new engine is on the way, and the team will be installing all new drivetrain components and a low-friction rearend from Tiger Rear Ends along with new wheels and other components.

Before the season starts, we will be testing the car and developing setups. The team will get to come to the track and prepare and maintain the car hands-on throughout the season. I saw first hand how excited the students were to be race team crewmembers. This program has definitely instilled a change in their attitude about high school. Their motivation level is high and we expect a great result.

Our overall design goal is to prepare a car that is correct for front suspension geometry and that will be adjustable within a certain range in order to provide a more balanced setup. The front geometry design will help make the car turn well through the middle and the setup balance will make the car both fast and consistent.

We will be testing three different setups in this car. One will be a conventional style setup similar to what I designed for Brian Hoppe back in 1999 when he ran a few weekly program races at Madison. Then we will test what I like to call a soft-conventional setup that is about half way to the Big Bar and Soft Spring setups that racers are trying to make work. The final setup will be a full-bore BBSS setup with all of the tricks. The design of the car will necessarily need to change to accommodate the various setups as well. We could not expect the same front end geometry to work through the wide variation of setups we will experiment with.