There's a movement afoot to...
There's a movement afoot to enact changes to many current Stock class rules that now prohibit the changing of stock components. The car we're mostly concerned with is similar to this early '80's GM Monte Carlo, seen here at Volusia, driven by my friend, Joe Epton, who passed away this past year.
While it's true that in a perfect world devoid of cheaters, the horsepower output of your motor, being strictly regulated as opposed to "run what ya brung," is almost equal to your competitor's. Then it can be agreed that most of the performance enhancement should be done with the chassis and through improved driver skills. The problem with the chassis rules in many Stock class divisions is that the racer is restricted in what he or she can do to make the car handle better. Let's see what could be done in an economical way and explore ways to influence the governing bodies so that Stock class racing can improve as a whole.
The cars we're talking about are known by various names such as Street Stock, Hobby Stock, Pure Stock, Grand Stock, Bombers, and Chargers, among other more localized names. The rules among racetracks vary, but most call for the suspension components to remain "OEM stock." That's OK, as far as it goes in holding down costs to keep the racer from having to buy aftermarket parts. But the reality is, a lot can be done to make these cars handle better and be more competitive by allowing changes to certain components.
The stock front end design...
The stock front end design leaves a lot to be desired when trying to convert a street car into a race car. The concept of racing cheap, older stock cars is attractive to many who wish to race under a smaller budget, but we can make the situation better with a little effort and a small amount of cash.
Many restrictions are placed on the circle-track racers in the name of cost savings. While most will agree that racing needs to be cheaper overall, there are certain areas where a small outlay of cash and a little elbow grease will reap huge benefits for not only the race teams, but the spectators and track owners as well. Better competition, combined with fewer wrecks and caution periods, means happier race teams and spectators. How many times have we sat through a 10-lap Street Stock-type race and seen a dozen cautions that produced a pile of bent fenders and suspension components? What we hope to get across is that allowing the teams to spend a small amount of money may well yield huge benefits in the big scheme of things.
Cost is a relative term. Let's examine where the areas of cost related to Stock class circle-track racing really are. The most time and money a racer will spend in the Stock class, not counting the cost of tires, is paying for and replacing parts, such as fenders, spindles, control arms, and so on, after the car is wrecked. This is in addition to the time out of the day spent searching for proper components at the local junkyard. Time is money, isn't it?
The stock upper mounts can...
The stock upper mounts can be cut off and lowered like this one. This provides the opportunity to reposition the mounting point so that the correct caster and camber can be realized. The mount was cut out, the hole filled with a steel plate and the upper mount rewelded onto the plate.
It's safe to say that a typical stocker will be involved in many wrecks during the course of a year. If we can reduce the amount of crashes, we can reduce the cost to the racer. Allowing the teams to setup the car properly will improve performance to the point that there will be fewer incidents caused by ill-handling race cars. Many accidents I've seen involve one car pushing up into another car and causing a multi-car pileup.
What We Hear
We receive letters and email constantly asking how to improve the handling for Stock class race cars. One of the most popular chassis of choice now is the GM "metric" cars, made from 1979 to 1986 because they're so plentiful. We estimate that more than 90 percent of all Stock class cars are GM cars, with many being the metric chassis. Although the rear suspension in those cars isn't ideal, the front is where we see the most potential for improvement.
The front geometry design on the Stock class cars is terrible for racing. The moment center isn't where it should be, the camber change (severe loss) is far from ideal, and the steering usually has lots of Ackermann. The front of the chassis is the most important area we can work on in order to improve overall handling and chassis-related performance for any race car, and we could make it better if only the rules would allow.