In planning our race car, first and foremost, we wanted it to be absolutely legal for its class. We took a close look at the NASCAR rule book for Late Model Stock cars and discovered that the '98 chassis we had was somewhat obsolete. There were several issues related to the construction of the car. When it was built, everything was up to par, but since that time, the rules have evolved so that many structural changes would have to be made in order for the car to be legal to race.

Modernizing An Older Car
Many short-track racers face this decision after they have raced a chassis for a number of years. Many teams opt to purchase a new, bare frame and rollcage assembly and bolt on all of the suspension parts, gauges, engine, body, and so on so that the only new part is the actual chassis. This saves a lot of money while ensuring that the chassis will support the great setups they develop.

Let's face it, the very foundation of all stock car setup performance is the chassis. If the chassis is older, it may be prone to bending and flexing, or it may have actually been bent in an altercation. Also, the tubing may be rusting on the inside where it is difficult to detect, and that can make the car unsafe in the event of a crash. In our case, the basic design did not fit the current rules

The Problems We Found
The framerails, although constructed of the minimum size and within the rules, were small and not as strong as they could have been. The design of the three-link rear suspension was illegal due to a longer right-side trailing arm. The NASCAR rules now state that the rear trailing arms must be of equal length.

Another issue was that we were stuck with only a three-link rear suspension system even if we could have fixed the trailing arm length problem. With our new chassis being built by the experienced crew over at Hess Race Cars in Mooresville, North Carolina, we had the option of running a three-link system or a very popular truck arm system, similar to the ones used on the Hooters ProCup, Craftsman Trucks, Busch Series, and Nextel Cup cars. The mounts for both are built into this new chassis.

Why Go With New?
By constructing a new chassis, we were assured that the car would be legal and that the best of materials would be used in the process. The mounting points for the rear suspension will be standard industry placement and adjustable, but the front-suspension control arm pickup point locations will be dictated by our own preferences. We will be able to adjust the moment center location as well as the camber change characteristics of the car for different racetrack designs.

Most of the old parts on the previous chassis will be utilized on the new chassis. The complete drag link steering system (the only one allowed on these cars) will be transferred to the new chassis, as well as the Wilwood Wide Five hubs, wheels, the steering shaft assembly, and the fuel cell container. We will completely redo the dash layout, along with the wiring, and install a new seat and headrest, seatbelts, brake calipers and pads, fuel cell, shocks, springs, sway bar, lightweight spindles, quick-change rearend, and other components to make this a rolling chassis.

We Have Power
In another development, we have entered preliminary discussions with Jeremy Upchurch of Upchurch Engineering in Durham, North Carolina, to develop an engine package for our car. Jeremy builds engines for Late Model Stock racers as well as top contenders in the Hooters ProCup. His shop is outfitted with the latest in equipment, which includes an engine dyno as well as a chassis dyno that we might be able to utilize on this project.

For his part, Upchurch may do a complete engine buildup. He even offered to loan us an engine so we can test the car once it is completed if the time schedule isn't exactly as we had hoped.