As each season comes along, our knowledge of what we need and desire grows. At some point, we take in enough information to allow us to avoid the mistakes of the past and get ahead of the curve in setting up our asphalt cars. Trends are a part of this learning curve and greatly influence some, but not all racers.
A trend must prove itself in order to stand the test of time. It must show a consistent gain in performance and a logical ideology to the bulk of race teams. And, it must be economically applied. We are at a crossroads at this point in time with setup technology in asphalt racing.
The use of softer front springs, larger sway bars, and big spring split in the rear has swept across the country for more than five years now with mixed results. I talk to lots of racers representing every form of circle track racing in every region of the country and beyond. What I hear I feel is representative, although those who dive head first into the BBSS mix not because of a perceived and measured expectation of success but because of the "see monkey, do monkey" attitude, will never share what they are doing.
What has evolved is a design...
What has evolved is a design for the dynamic Moment Center that is more to the left of centerline. This provides a longer moment arm and makes the front more efficient. Efficiency helps retain loading on the left front tire to help the car turn.
The message I get from those who have worked this trend for a sufficient number of years is one of the following two types: 1) a continuing and constant search for balance in the car and a loss of success on the track, or 2) a returning to the more conventional setups because they have experienced number 1 above. I don't get too many reports of continual, repeated wins and successes. That troubles me.
And as for you Modified and Stocker class teams, don't even think about it. Yes, I get inquiries about how to apply the BBSS setups to both of these types of cars. We have been softening those setups over the years, but never intended to go to coil bind or bump rubbers. It just won't work. So don't try it.
So, again this year as in past years, we will present what is admittedly the formula for success related more for the conventional and what we call soft conventional setups mainly because these are the ones that produce more consistency and do win races.
I have always believed in priorities because you can make gains faster when you solve the high priorities problems first. Smaller gains can come later on after the more important aspects of setup are resolved. And, some aspects of chassis setup build on other aspects. So, here is, in order of logic and importance, a list of setup parameters we need to address to make our cars fast and consistent.
We want minimal rear steer...
We want minimal rear steer as the car negotiates the turns. A small amount of steer to the left will help tighten the car. If overdone, the car will push. For three-link cars, set the control arm angle so that the front mount is 1/3 of the total travel distance higher than the rear mount. For cars running stiff right rear spring, remember that the travel will be much less due to the stiffness. You must change your trailing arm angles when changing to a stiffer RR spring.
The very first step in the process of preparing for the new season is to consider all performance-related items and how they worked last season. Plan out changes that could help improve performance or durability. Both of these are necessary components that will be needed to win championships. Here are what we consider to be the 10 most important areas of chassis setup with No. 1 being the most important.
1. Front End Geometry
We always start with the front end geometry on any race car. The settings, including the moment center location, really do dictate how all of the other parts and pieces of setup will work. If this component on your car is not right, then the whole car will suffer, no matter what else you do. Numerous car builders have come to realize the truth in the above statements.
A tight condition is the number one complaint from drivers. The number one reason a car will be tight and not want to turn is because the front end is not designed properly. The moment center must be located correctly for your type of racing and the cambers must be set, again toward your setup style and track conditions.
The dynamics of the moment center and the effects of camber change have been explained before. We have continually pressed these issues because of the extreme importance they have. Long gone are the days of saying that the MC is not important.