The approach to setup is a mental process first and a mechanical process after that. We need to decide what our goals are in the very beginning, and the information presented here will help you formulate those goals. We need to step back and look at the big picture every once in a while. That includes where we stood with our competition during the first half of the season and what our experience level is at this point in time (our realistic expectations are directly tied to that). Also, what is our level of readiness, and finally, do we have the right tools and equipment to get the job done?

Over the past year and certainly over the past five years, we have outlined the various setup items that are most important and offered explanations and methods that will help you cope with these. Here are ten top areas of setup that can affect your handling.

1. Front Geometry - The front moment center location plays a huge role in how the front end wants to work. The MC should always be somewhere close to the centerline that is midway between the tire contact patches. The farther left the MC is located, the more efficient the front end will be and will want to roll.

The farther to the right of the centerline, the stiffer the front will be and the less it will want to roll. Generally speaking, low-banked tracks require a location more to the left, and higher-banked tracks are best set up with an MC more to the right of centerline.

Camber settings dictate how large the contact patch is. The RF and LF wheels will always experience changes in camber as the car enters and rolls into the turns. If the front geometry is not designed correctly, then as the car dives and rolls, the cambers relative to the racing surface will not be correct to provide the largest possible contact patch.

With the advent of the BBSS asphalt setups, both front wheels experience a great deal of camber change as the chassis dives three inches or more in the turns with an accompanying reduction in chassis roll. Because of restraints in design and the need for geometry controls for Moment Center placement, we have to live with those properties. Initial camber settings must be revised when changing from conventional to BBSS setups. The LF static camber must be increased quite a bit and the RF static camber must be decreased.

2. Ackermann - In the front end geometry there is a condition called Ackermann. This is an effect that increases the amount of toe-out in our race cars when we turn the steering wheel.

The opposite of Ackermann is called Reverse-Ackermann. That is an effect that causes an increase or decrease in the amount of toe-out as we steer, and can actually cause the front tires to end up with toe-in if Reverse is severe. It is possible to have Ackermann in our steering system when we steer left and Reverse Ackermann when we steer to the right. You do not need Ackermann in your race car, period.

3. Rear Geometry - A car that is loose in the middle and/or loose on entry to the corner can have several problems. If the car is severely loose, and nothing seems to help, it is almost always rear end alignment. If the rear end is pointed to the right of the centerline of the car, it will want to swing to the right as the car is steered left.

If the rear end is not aligned properly, the car may be either tight or loose in all three phases of the turns. One of the very first tasks in setting up a race car is to make sure all of the alignment issues have been corrected. The rear end should be at right angles to the chassis centerline and the right side tire contact patches should be inline.