There's a movement afoot to enact changes to many current Stock class rules that now prohi
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 leaves a lot to be desired when trying to convert a street car
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 be cut off and lowered like this one. This provides the opportu
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.
The perfect solution to the problem of stock upper control arms and mounts would be to all
All we would need to do to improve the front geometry is to change the angles of the upper, and to a lesser extent, the lower control arms. We can easily do this, if allowed to, by installing one or more of the following: aftermarket upper control arms, aftermarket adjustable inner mounts, and adjustable-height ball joints. These parts aren't very expensive and from our experience would do wonders for the handling of the cars if properly mounted.
Another area where the Stock class racer needs to make adjustments is in weight distribution. If the teams were allowed to install weight jackers, the weight distribution would be easy to adjust. We all know that some racers install spacers above the springs to dial in the crossweight, so why not just let them make it a little easier by using screw-style weight jackers.
In the grand scheme of things, the Stock class is often a training ground for inexperienced teams to use to learn how to set up a race car. Why not provide the tools they need to make the necessary setup changes to those cars so that when the time comes to move up in class, the learning curve will be much shorter.
If racers were allowed to install weight jackers, a lot of time and effort would be saved.
What We Preach
In the pages of Circle Track, we preach the importance of proper Moment Center design, and other geometry considerations and a steering system that doesn't produce excess or deficient toe in the turns. We tell the racers how to accomplish those ends in a very detailed way. The problem we have is that all of that knowledge makes for a very frustrated Stock class racer when he can't do anything about how his car is designed
It was far easier when these guys didn't know any better and just went along with the way it was. Unfortunately, that has all changed. Imagine knowing that there's a cure for a certain illness, and that it's fairly cheap to buy that cure, but you're not allowed to use it. This is what the Stock class racers have been going through.
In many cases, the racers take it upon themselves to bend the rules in their favor. I know of one team that made what seemed like minor changes to the front suspension and it made a world of difference in how the car handled. They simply cut off the upper mounts and lowered them. In the process, they repositioned them so that they had the proper caster split and cambers on each side of the car.
They also installed ball joints with longer shafts to increase the upper arm angles and take angle out of the lower arms. The upper arms were cut and rewelded to provide more clearance for the ball-joint shaft, too. This work involved mostly labor and the only cost was for new ball joints. The old ball joints needed replacement anyhow, so there were really no additional costs, only labor and some welding.
The good and the bad. I like the placement of the ballast to the front of the rear end as
The result of those changes was a better Moment Center location that made the front end more efficient and allowed the car to turn better. The steering felt better due to the caster split and the tires had more grip due to the cambers being correct. The driver, a veteran of more than 20 years on the dirt, said it was the best handling car he had ever driven. The whole process took less than four hours.
Promoters Take Note
I really believe that the majority of promoters want better competition and more car count for each division that races at their tracks. Therefore, it shouldn't be hard to convince them that allowing these simple changes would benefit everyone involved-racers, fans, and owners. Sometimes the resistance we see is just a matter of the officials not knowing exactly what the racer is up to when they see a deviation from the rules.
Along with the refinements to the suspension points, you need to install strong bushings,
I had an experience at a NASCAR touring race some years ago when the officials saw that some of the teams, ours included, had changed the shape of the radiator inlet boxes. The reshaping of the top of the box allowed more space for low pressure under the hood and the car produced more aero downforce as a result. This helped the car to turn better which is always helpful.
The officials were leaning toward outlawing this modification since none of the current rules covered that part of the car. I had a talk with the top official and explained in detail what was being done and why. I told him that rather than ban the practice, he would do much better allowing all of the teams to make the modification and that the cars would then turn better and he would have a better show as a result.
He was actually glad I came by and said he had been confused at why the teams were doing that. Now that he understood, he agreed to allow the teams to go ahead and modify the air boxes without restrictions.
Most track officials and owners are in need of this kind of information so that they can make intelligent decisions regarding suspension rules. If everyone in a particular class at your racetrack met with the officials and explained why a change in the rules was needed, and how it would benefit all, they would be hard pressed to say no without appearing unreasonable.
What Specifically Needs To Change
The following are areas where the racer should be allowed to make changes. The costs are relatively low and most of the work involves labor, a commodity that is readily available with most racers. The building of the car requires a lot of labor involving cutting and welding, so a few more hours is not too much to ask.
Modifying the upper control arm mounts. This can be defined as lowering the existing mounts or allowing aftermarket adjustable upper mounts to be welded onto the chassis.
Allow the use of aftermarket upper control arms of various lengths so that the racer can modify the cambers and Moment Center location more easily.
Allowing aftermarket mono-ball joints and/or extended-shaft ball joints to help reposition the Moment Centers and reduce camber change. A step further here would be to allow aftermarket spindles.
Allow modifications to the upper control arm if it's to remain stock. This is required to eliminate binding when increasing the upper control arm angles.
Allow the teams to install weight jacking systems in the front and/or rear end of the car so that the crossweight (bite or left rear weight) can be adjusted for handling balance.
These desired modifications seem so simple when we really take a look at them. I'm of the opinion that if all of the racers went ahead and made the changes, the track officials would be hard pressed to throw everyone out. Call it civil disobedience or call it standing up for what's right, but by all means, let your officials, and especially the track owner and promoter, know how you feel. Feel free to show them this article, and email or call the magazine if they have any questions.
We need the entry level classes and when these cars are designed right, it can be very good racing both from inside the car as well as when viewed from the grandstands. Then the cars will compete based on superior setups and the driver's skill level. Isn't that the way it is supposed to be?