Dick stands beside Danny Scofield...
Dick stands beside Danny Scofield (orange shirt), Jeff's father, as Jeff prepares to take his first run with the new setup. We were 0.2 to 0.3 seconds faster than other cars testing that day, one of which would lead most of the laps in the Governors Cup race eventually finishing Second to David Rogers.
Turn entry was a problem and we couldn't get the push out of the car. We made numerous changes that should have made the car loose as a goose, but didn't. So, I made the conclusion that something mechanical was wrong. I learned that Dick had only 1/2-degree of right trailing arm angle in the car with almost 5 degrees of left trailing arm angle. This produced a lot of rear steer that made the car extremely tight.
We put 2.5 degrees in the right arm and reduced the left arm to around 1 degree. That solved our tight problem. Then, as Jeff drove the car in deeper, it developed an entry push. He said it felt like the right front was falling over and the left rear was disconnected.
The 2 1/2 degrees of antidive at the RF was not enough to control the entry dive, so we boosted that up to 7 1/2 degrees of pivot angle, which is 3/4-inch of difference in bolt heights with the front higher. This is more than I've ever run, but when making changes, make one that is significant to determine if that is indeed a fix. It was.
As the first day of testing...
As the first day of testing went on, the handling began to change as we put on new tires. We first blamed a mismatch of "older" new tires and "fresh" new tires, but eventually learned that the rear differential was having problems that made the car very unpredictable.
By now we'd put about 40 laps on the tires and we were still in the 17.80s in lap times consistently. Still, the other cars there were turning high 17.90s and low 18.0s as the fastest laps and then falling off to the 18.20s after a few laps. We could run consistent 17.80s lap after lap. It was now time to put on stickers and make a run.
Our times not only didn't improve on the initial sticker run, but the car's handling went south too. Dick had experience with new sets of these tires that didn't work, so we put the 50-60-lap first set back on and it was fine with the same lap times. So, we decided to put on another new set which turned out OK, but was slower and other issues cropped up.
At this point we were running, on the newer track tires, consistent 17.90s and 18.0s along with other fast cars that were testing. We felt good about things until strange issues began cropping up. It seemed as though every run presented a different problem. One run the car was tight, another it was loose. None of it made sense.
Here, we see in this photo...
Here, we see in this photo of the No. 51 car of Stephen Nasse, that the front end is low, but not in contact with the track. In the lead photo of this story, we see our front end. It's a bit higher and shows some roll angle, but not to an extreme. Photo by Jim Jones
This issue continued on into the practice for the race and the race itself. Dick had made the decision to go back to his setup he had run all summer and one that had produced consistent wins over the past few years. Still, the car didn't respond well and all in all it was a frustrating time for the entire crew.
Once he got back to the shop, he inspected everything and discovered that the rear differential in the car was coming apart. This problem was responsible for all of our handling problems. Unfortunately, we would not be able to prove our theory on the longevity, but we did demonstrate that competitive speed is possible with the stiffer setup.
This setup will be run again in the near future. Dick and I will test again with a new rearend. What most racers would have thought if presented with our plan beforehand is that it would surely be a half second, or more, slower than the setups that produce low and level attitudes of the front end.
David Rogers in the No. 11...
David Rogers in the No. 11 car paced the field and waited to the end to make a move for the lead over Nasse to win the 45th annual Governor's Cup. Witnesses who were keeping track of the lap times said all of the top runners fell off badly over the last 100 laps of the 200-lap event. We felt that our setup would've been more consistent and been able to strongly compete with these cars. Because of our mechanical problems, we didn't get a chance to find out. Photo by Jim Jones
How could a car go as fast as one where all of that aero downforce was being utilized? It's simple, in the process of forcing and holding the front end down, and that is an accurate assessment of what is happening with the BBSS setups, the loading on the four tires becomes less optimal. There is good grip with the two front tires and with the right rear, but the left rear becomes less loaded and you end up with a car running on 3 1/2 tires.
If you reduce the traction on just one tire by half, the performance must suffer-and it does. What is especially true is that when you work with an unbalanced setup, the handling balance will change over the course of some number of laps and exactly when that happens is determined by how unbalanced the car is.
What we hope to eventually see is a re-evaluation of the setups used today and a return to sensible setups where the car is balanced dynamically and where the speed you gain carries on throughout the entire race. This is a track we will be on for some time, so keep watching for our results.