Hess Racing Products
Billy Hess is owner of Hess Racing Products in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Hess enterprise is well respected in the chassis field and builds platforms for virtually all types of circle track cars. The Hess organization builds its own design concept, but it also has the versatility to adapt to ideas and theories from outside of its own process.

"Ninety-five percent of everything we build is from a typical order where the buyer knows what we build and that's what he wants," Hess said. "On the other hand, some of what we build comes to us in other ways. For instance, some teams have engineers but don't have a way to build the chassis, while others have ideas but don't know how to carry it out. We process their proposals in our system to see what will and what won't work. Then, taking the ideas that work, we build the total package, incorporating their ideas along with our experience to put the design on four wheels."

Like the Hendrick staff, Hess uses a sophisticated computer design system that can take the variety of information and make changes to produce an on-screen race car chassis. With a few keystrokes the entire characteristics of a car can be changed, allowing Hess to see the results of ideas well before any construction begins. Being computer jockeys gives the chassis experts today an enormous advantage over builders just a few years ago. Now, new ideas can pass muster on a theoretical basis before the first piece of steel is cut and welded.

Once a design is set, the computer spits out all the specifics for a builder to go by in constructing the chassis. As good as any design may appear on the computer, the ultimate test is on the track. Hess pointed out, however, that with the combination of experience and new computer technology, the art of building excellent race cars has moved to a more reliable level.

"Chassis design has a lot to do with what a driver wants. Today, the biggest difference we see between driver requests comes on the basis of how quick a front end turns," Hess said. "For instance, right now the big rage is what we call the low snout. It's a totally different package that has a different roll center and camber gain package from a standard build, all of which has to do with how aggressive the front wheels are. The snouts are built in standard height, 3/4-inch drop and 1 1/2-inch drop. Each version gives a significantly different feel to the car, and from driver to driver the comfort level for each one can be affected. The snout example is just one of many variations that we take into account in building a chassis to a driver's specs."