A Call for Stock Appearing

Wow, what perfect timing. I downloaded my online copy of Circle Track to my iPad this morning and didn’t get past your write up (“Stock Appearing: Its Time Has Come,” Dec. ’12) and here I am. After rolling in at 2 a.m. from a (to remain nameless) speedway up in, well let’s just say, north Georgia, I see that you’ve hit home on a topic that I just lived through not 10 hours ago.

My dad and I went to watch as spectators this trip since we’d never been to the place before. A little bit about us, so the perspective from where I’m writing is more clear.

Dad’s been an avid race fan all his life. Totally ate up with it. NASCAR, short track, asphalt, dirt, slot cars, you name it. If it has some sort of a motor and tires, and goes left, he’s interested in a big way. He’s been racing vintage cars for the last 20 or so years.

I’ve raced the local scene in Hobby, Super Street, IMCA Mods, and now in a crate Late Model. Not a lot of success either. IMCA national runner up in 1994 (I think) with less than a dozen feature wins.

At this track we visited last night there was great potential for an awesome show. But as is often seen, the web info stating “Racing at 7:30” meant that at 7:30 we’re only 15 minutes into an hour of hot laps.

The car count was good for a local dirt track. Very good I thought. It was amazing, this place should be a gold mine for a race held in Georgia during the college football season and hunting season, but there were no fannies in the stands. There couldn’t have been more than 300 people there I don’t think.

We’re missing it by a mile. I honestly feel like I’ll be lucky if I can ever take a grandson or granddaughter to a local dirt track to get some mud in their hot chocolate. I think they’ll be virtually extinct in most areas in the next 20 years unless we can figure out how to come together and help some of these folks realize what they’re sitting on and get them to understand how they’re stabbing their own foot with a dagger.

My hope is that Lucas Oil or UMP or one of the big organizations (NASCAR would be great...but it appears to have lost all interest in educating and growing grassroots racing) will step into the arena and start to set models across the country of rules packages, bodies, and how to run shows. They’ve got the clout and in some of the areas where they are strong...they appear to be very strong.

We desperately need a real grassroots racing leader to rise from the pits and demonstrate how to do this the right way. Then, and this is the hard part, we need the folks that have invested into these racetracks to listen, learn, and follow the example. Not sure I have an answer for that.

I pay upwards of $200 for a dirt wedge nose. I miss the days of spending $100 for one, having it look really unique, and not having to do all the crazy sheetmetal work that you have to do for a Late Model. I agree, give us a stock nose piece and the rules to go with it and we’ll all be better for it.

Thanks for putting your magazine online. I really like that medium. I’ll keep bugging the promoters that I come in contact with about these sorts of things and hopefully something wonderful will happen to our beloved racing over the next few years.


Joe Cobb


Thanks for writing. You echo the thoughts of a lot of racers and fans across the country. The move toward a more stock appearing look is in full swing now and the industry has taken note. Even NASCAR, the ones you say have lost interest, has moved to the stock appearing cars.

And just this past February, NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway put on a short track show at the big track. This, I think, demonstrates their commitment to short track racing. So, when the biggest sanction in the country, and possibly the world, takes note of where we need to go, the others will follow. It’s really the only road to do down.

Zero Degree Kingpin Spindles

I really look forward to reading your column and articles. One of my friends asked me if I ever heard of someone using spindles with zero degrees kingpin inclination. I never heard of that, but I knew you might.

He bought the spindles from a top name chassis supplier for use on an asphalt Outlaw Late Model. The only thing I can figure is they are trying to minimize camber gain in their setup. What do you think?


Ralph Malec


Kingpin inclination in a spindle will cause camber change in the right and left front wheels. Camber change is, in my experience, something the car does not like. It also produces less scrub radius as the line through the ball joint centers comes close to intersecting the center of the contact patch. This is less important in asphalt circle track racing as it is with production car design.

With our newer bumpstop and coil bind setups, one of the positives is that there is little camber change associated with those setups due to limited vertical movement of the chassis once the car is on the bumps. The only camber change that can then occur would be camber change due to steering whereby the kingpin angle causes the change.

The other phenomenon that occurs with kingpin angle-induced camber change is the jacking effect of the change in height of the wheel as it changes camber. In the front end, as the steering wheel is turned left, the ride heights may change differently between the left and right wheels.

This may add or subtract crossweight or wedge to the setup and might change the handling of the car. We can measure this change directly with a set of scales. Just read the crossweight with the wheels straight ahead and then with the wheels turned.

I’ve never done that before, so I called my friend, Dick Anderson, who just happened to be scaling a Modified he has been working on at his shop. He ran the test for me with a pair of GM number two spindles. The results were, the car had 56.5 percent cross with the wheels straight ahead and 56.3 percent with the wheels turned.

This changed the loading 4 pounds on the left side tires and 2 pounds on the right side tires to produce the 0.2 percent of change in crossweight. That’s not much, so now we know.

Metric Four-Link or Three-Link

I have an ’86 Monte Carlo my sons and I race in Ohio at Lorain County Speedway on asphalt. We have a choice to run the stock metric rear suspension setup or a three-link. We run the stock metric because we run several other tracks in our area that require the stock rear setup.

There is a 200-pound weight added for the three-link if we run it. My question is this. There is a car in our group that has the metric setup, but runs the rear stock sway bar. He is able to out run the three-link setup. It seems to help on exit more than on entrance to the turn.

What are your thoughts on this? Our car is 3,100 pounds minimum 56 percent left, 48 percent rear, which is the max by rule. Our cross is 54 percent, our left is 55.80 percent, and rear 47.95 percent. We run different rear spring combos 300 LR/175 RR, 250 LR/200 RR and so on. If we ran a rear sway bar, with a 250 LR/150 RR, would this help on bite off with softer springs in the rear? I guess I want to know how is the rear sway bar working and why does it seem to work so well?

Terry West


As you already know, with the metric four-link, the rear roll center is very high. So, as you are doing, you need to run a softer right rear spring over the left rear in order to attain a balanced setup. We know that rear spring split, i.e. RR softer, does add a lot of bite to the car on exit when the load transfers to the rear on acceleration. The bigger the split, the more bite.

What the rear sway bar does is to help limit the roll of the rear of the car, but it does not add spring rate. With its use, you can run a bigger spring split (this creates more rear roll), and still maintain a balanced setup through the turns.

So, on exit as the load transfers to the rear, the sway bar has little effect on the handling other than the job it is already doing and a greater spring split will add more bite off the corners by increasing the loading of the LR and RF tires. I think that answers your question.

Stock-Appearing Old Style

Current models are great. I think that they don’t have to be current as long as they can be distinguished from one another. As you can see, the Northwest early stocks provide great racing and cars that stand out with their individuality.

Race cars are cool! Let’s keep them appealing.


Gil Rapp


I saw lots of those in my travels with the AMSOIL Great American CT Tour. You’re right, they do stand out. In today’s stock production cars, the manufacturers tend to copy styles so that from a distance, it is hard to distinguish the different makes.

The front ends usually give them away more than anything. That is why NASCAR put so much detail in the Gen 6 cars front ends. Now you can tell a Chevy from a Ford or Toyota.