Steve Pearson, owner Pearson...
Steve Pearson, owner Pearson Racing
Steve Pearson of Pearson Racing in Athens, Georgia, is a former Busch car builder and now builds Saturday night race cars in the form of trucks and late- model sportsman race cars. Although this shop does not at this time employ computer design (computer technology is in the works) in the building of its products, the sophistication and quality level is high. As in any high-quality building process, the cars are based on plenty of historical documentation, and the accumulated information of individual car and track data serves as the basis for building the Pearson products.
Pearson, like the other builders we spoke with, began his short-track chassis building based on historically accepted standards. Today, however, his method has adopted some changes that have brought more Winston Cup-like characteristics to his platforms. These changes have occurred primarily in the front end of the chassis.
Instead of using the typical 90-degree coilover chassis design, Pearson has moved to a more flexible 60-degree design. This provides the flexibility and freedom for quick and easy shock and spring changes to be made, because a 60-degree system allows shock and spring mounting to be independent of each other.
Taken at the Bill Hess Race...
Taken at the Bill Hess Race shop, the view on this screen is typical of how a computer design begins. All the necessary data, such as upper- and lower-arm measurements, is keyed into the computer in preparation to view the dynamics of the resulting design. Information displayed on this computer screen can be easily changed, so many configurations can be considered before the actual construction begins. This kind of simplicity allows the designer much greater flexibility to design a chassis that works well on the track and also fits the "feel" a specific driver wants. Programs like these are in large part responsible for much of the refined chassis building available to racers today. This also is a tool to fix chassis problems. By placing the existing measurements of a chassis into the program, many problems can be easily spotted, which makes finding solutions quicker and simpler.
"All of this design is not new," Pearson said. "But, like many ideas, they cycle in and out of use as other ideas come along. This is an idea and process whose time has come again, and we think this is the future for the Saturday night short-track racer, both car and truck."
Changes in chassis building, like the 60-degree system, have improved the characteristics of power transfer from the engine to the ground as well as improved car handling. The improvements in race car foundations have put a renewed focus on engine tuning.
"The sophistication of the chassis has reached a level where chassis tuning is getting most of the engine power to the ground, so now engine tuning is once again becoming the focal point of getting around the track," Pearson said. "That's not to say that a chassis doesn't hold some power secrets, because it does. It's just that today's chassis are better than they were as little as five years ago, and so more engine power is being transferred to the ground than ever before."
The 60-degree version uses...
The 60-degree version uses indepen-dently mounted shocks and springs, not unlike Winston Cup cars. Configured this way, shock and spring changes are quick and simple.
This is what the designer...
This is what the designer sees after all of the data has been entered. The computer reveals all of the geometry that results from measurements entered in the first step. A process like this gives builders an enormous amount of information and detail, such as all front and rear geometry, wheel information, center of gravity, and much more, on which a race car platform design can be based. By replacing measurements in previous data screens, changes to the chassis geometry are made quickly and easily. The effects of this technology is clear, and it has a lot to do with the advances in chassis science in recent years. With this kind of engineering tool, hundreds of configurations can be reviewed in a fraction of the time it once took, and it can all be done without cutting or welding any materials.
Pearson Racing has moved away...
Pearson Racing has moved away from the 90-degree coilover chassis design to a 60-degree system. It's called a 60-degree setup because the suspension is mounted at 60 degrees to the framerail. This system offers new flexibility with shocks and springs.