Step 3, Center the Steering Box/Rack
Center the front steering rack. This is done by turning the steering wheel lock to lock and back half the number of turns from full lock in either direction. Once mid-rack (or mid-box with drag link steering) is found, lock the steering shaft with two Vise-Grip–type pliers against the frame.

We want to make sure the steering is centered and the wheels are pointed straight ahead. Once the steering box has been set to center, adjust each tie rod length so that the right and left wheels are pointing straight ahead. With the laser systems, this is done quickly and accurately.

With the string method, run a string down each side of the car at hub height and parallel to the centerline you have established. Then, simply measure to the side walls or wheel rim of each front tire with the tape measure and make both front and rear measurements equal by adjusting the tie rod lengths. We can set our race toe later on after we have aligned the car.

Step 4, Right-Side Tire Contact Patch Alignment
Once the front wheels have been adjusted to point straight ahead and parallel to the centerline, we need to align the right-side tire contact patches. We do this by using our laser systems as described in the user manuals for each system.

Adjust the Panhard or J-bar length so that the right-side tire contact patches are inline, or if your desire is to offset these, set the desired amount. This means that we'll either have both right-side tires lined up or at least know what our offset is. For stock classes using rear suspensions that are not adjustable, you'll need to run different offset wheels to achieve right-side tire alignment.

When using the string method, we need to compensate for the camber of the wheels which moves the tire contact patches out. At the hub height, if we line up the tire sidewalls, the RF tire contact patch will be outside that line due to the negative camber present in the RF wheel. The rear wheel may also have camber due to a cambered rearend or just the stagger. Look at the chart to estimate how much to compensate for the cambers. Subtract the compensation amount from the offset read at the rear wheel, or add that number to the front measurement, to find how far from the string the wheels need to be in order to line up the right-side tire contact patches.

As we adjust the rearend side to side, there's a possibility that the rearend alignment will change as the rearend moves laterally. That's why we do the right-side alignment first. We'll now need to check to make sure the rearend is perpendicular to the chassis centerline and if not, adjust it.

Step 5, Rearend Alignment
Once the right-side tire contact patch alignment has been done, we can then square the rearend. The rearend should always be set perpendicular to the centerline of the car. We do this with the strings by creating a line that is perpendicular to the centerline we have already established. Using a simple 3-4-5 right triangle with the lengths doubled, we can measure off the centerline to establish our line to measure to the rearend.

When using the laser systems, follow the manufacturer's guidelines for doing that. The lasers will accurately measure the alignment referencing the chassis centerline.

Step 6, Setting Front Toe
The last step in the alignment process is to set the static toe at the front wheels. We can use toe plates to do this or the laser systems. Remember to be careful and accurate and do the measurements several times to be sure of the numbers. Adjusting the left side tie rod only to set your toe is a method I personally like. You can also split the toe between the left and right wheel.

Roll the car forward and back about 5 feet and recheck the toe setting. As the car settles, the overall measurements may change, but the differences should remain the same. Remember that for toe-out, the front measurement will always be more than the rear measurement on the toe plates. If you're using a string or laser to check your toe-out, the opposite is true. The front measurement from the laser/string would be less than the rear measurement. I know one crew chief/car owner who got this backwards too many times.

If you follow these simple but effective steps in setting up your race car, you'll be well on your way to success. Remember that it's the team and driver who must take this the rest of the way. Work on maintenance to reduce parts failures, driver training to be able to turn the fastest laps possible and endurance to make sure you finish each race.

North Minneapolis
True Laser Track
DRP Performance