I've gotten emails telling me that some readers don't fully understand how to put all of the information we present into a package that will help them improve their car and give them the opportunity to win. I understand that all of this can be somewhat confusing if you don't know the ultimate goals.

We ran this information by you in the July '09 issue and decided we should present it again with a new title and approach. If you read this before, read it again and try to get the point that all we do is toward making the tires happy. If you've not seen this before, I can tell you that what is presented here is some of the most important and meaningful information you'll ever get anywhere.

When we begin to understand how various settings and procedures affect the amount of traction in our race cars, we can better prepare the car for racing. What we need is traction control, not the electronic kind, but an approach to our design and setup of the car that will increase traction. The following is an attempt at helping you understand the most basic influences that affect any race car's performance and limit how fast it will go through the turns. Knowing those will help you build more traction.

With more traction, we can brake harder, go faster through the turns and accelerate harder and faster off the turns. Everything we do with race car setup, outside engine prep, aero tweaking, and driveline technology, is connected with trying to develop more traction.

Traction enhancing technology has grown in recent times. We have collectively learned what the tires want and somewhat how to give them the opportunity to maintain grip with the racing surface as much as the laws of physics will allow. Let's face it, there are limits to everything in this physical world, so we go in search of finding the ultimate limit. We try to learn to recognize when we get to the limit so we can stop looking lest we go backwards.

The principle of stopping when you're ahead is true in developing a good handling package and remains true when developing the best traction package. Know when you've gone far enough. The 99 percent rule applies here. If you have the fastest car in the field, any change you make has a 99 percent chance of slowing you down.

The word package is an important one, because we might well be using several different approaches at the same time to enhance traction. They rarely interfere with each other and each one will add a little to the package. Collectively, they can add up to a marked improvement in available traction while under power.

Tires Are The Key
It has been said many times before by most authors of racing technology that everything we do related to chassis setup comes down to making the tires work harder. Tires are the ultimate connection between the car and the racing surface. Far more racers have been disqualified for illegal tires than any other infringement. It's because improvement to grip represents the most gain in performance.

The concept of tire performance is always at the forefront when trying to understand ways to improve the overall performance in our race car. It is again at the very top of the list when we discuss traction. Listed here are seven areas of influence that directly affect the amount of traction that a set of dirt or asphalt tires will develop:

Vertical Loading
Increasing the amount of vertical loading (weight) on the tire increases traction, but in a non-linear way. That is to say that as we increase loading on a tire, it will gain traction, but not in exact multiples. If a tire has "X" amount of traction with 400 pounds on it, the traction will be less than double as we apply 800 pounds of loading to it. The amount of traction will be less than 2 times X.