Those are the lyrics of a song recorded by George Jones and it’s a social commentary about the people who made country music popular in the early days. It speaks of the legends of CM and begs the questions of who is going to replace them, as well as who is going to measure up. I couldn’t help but think of that song when I recently heard of Dick Trickle passing away.
I was on a trip to Mooresville, North Carolina, “RaceCity USA” as they like to call it locally, and it happened on the Thursday I was there just a few miles west of where I was staying. I thought about the time I met Dick in 1975 when he came to our area to race in the Speedweeks short track series at New Smyrna Speedway.
He borrowed setup space in a race shop I was familiar with and when I found out one of the most successful short track racers in history was there, I made it a point to go by and hang out. He was a delight, full of humor, energy, whit, and racing knowledge, although he didn’t let on just how much he really knew.
Dick was a simple man, much like most of the early racers. He did his talking on the track, unlike many of our modern racers. I’m getting just a little tired of the drama we see now days with drivers whining and complaining and so forth. Yeah, we had “jaws” back in the day, but for the most part, icons like Dale Sr.; Richard, Bobby, and Donnie; Cale; David; Curtis; and Fireball were humble.
If you don’t recognize any of those names and can’t think of the last names, go back and study the history of stock car racing in America and it will come to you. You owe it to yourself. I hung around these guys back in the ’60s when they came to Daytona.
No, I didn’t know them, but I knew their character. I listened to them speak to one another and I watched them not talk to the press. They all, to a man, walked quietly and carried a big right foot. They got the job done on the track and when it was over, it was over.
How many times have you heard of Richard Petty getting into controversy, or Dale Earnhardt, or for that matter, Dick Trickle? It just didn’t happen, at least not in the press. Yes, we have a very different press corps today verses yesteryear. But that aside, those icons of our sport still kept their mouths shut to the public. And I think everyone appreciated it.
And that’s not all they did that I respected so much. They raced each other cleanly, albeit hard and rooted each other out of the groove or lead as needed and if you couldn’t get back to their bumpers once you got rooted out, then they had deserved and earned the position.
Blocking and then complaining about getting bumped is for babies and suckers. If you can’t stay off someone’s front bumper, how does it go, “lead, follow or get out of the way.” I remember when a certain Darrell tried to block a certain Dale and got turned into the fence. One driver ran his mouth and the other stayed quiet. But they both understood the situation.
Maybe the answer lies in the films of the races run back in the day. If someone could get the license to put those on DVD, maybe those of us who were too young, or not even born yet, could see how it was done by the early masters of our sport.
Excerpts could be shown at drivers meetings to demonstrate how to, or not to, conduct a pass, or TV interview. The point is, those who built this sport and who had so much talent back when driving truly separated the men from the boys, are to be admired for who they were as a person as well as who they were on the racetrack.
When you are 50 or 60 years old, you young racers, how do you want to be remembered; as a whiny, pouty big mouth, or one who commands respect by being silent and strong? Why do you think Richard always has that big smile on his face? It’s because he is proud of the way he led his life.
Kenny Schrader as he appeared in Circle Track’s Oct. ’82 issue. The title next to the phot
Ken Schrader just won the ARCA Racing Series race at Toledo at the ripe old age of 57. I looked at the 1985 Daytona 500 results page and there was Ken’s name finishing in 11th place in his very first start there. And he has been winning ever since. I can’t remember one time Kenny had any controversy and everyone likes him. And he wins still today. Enough said.
If you have comments or questions about this or anything racing related, send them to my email address: Bob.Bolles@sorc.com, or mail can be sent to Circle Track, Senior Tech Editor, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619.
Centering the Steering Comment
Regarding your “Alignment Technology” article (July ’13), I think your “Step 6 -- Center the Steering Box” is not the best way to determine it, especially before bumpsteering. It seems that placing the inner tie-rod ends on the rack or drag link equidistant from their respective lower A-arm inner pivot points and centering the steering wheel on the steering shaft is more accurate. I would appreciate your thoughts.
—Pat McFall, The Race Shop; Portland, OR
Thanks for your observations. My thought on that is this, if the rack or steering arm is not too far out of centered, then your bumpsteer would be better with the tie rod inner ends closer to centered on the lower control arm mounts.
The problem comes when we need to go too far to accomplish that and run out of steering angle, or distance to turn the wheels, especially when running on dirt. It matters both ways on dirt. On asphalt, if the turning right is compromised, no problem, it just gets hard to maneuver the car around the shop or pits.
Tie rod angle is much more of a consideration than the length or placement laterally. Remembering the basic design criteria for minimal bumpsteer, the tie rod must point to the instant center created by extending a line from the centers of rotation of the ball joints through the centers of the inner mounts to where the upper and lower lines converge creating the IC.
I recently noticed a Super Late Model asphalt car where the team had to put the right tie rod on top of the steering arm on the spindle. This was because the inner lower control arm mount was low and well below the end of the rack. So, they spaced the inner tie rod end up and mounted the outer tie rod end on top of the steering arm.
I had never seen that before. In looking at their moment center design, I saw too much angle in the lower arms, so they needed to raise the inner mount by 1 inch. This put the tie rod much closer to the same level as the lower arm and they were able to move the tie rod down under the steering arm.
Nova Dirt Setup Questions
I really enjoy reading your articles on suspension, however being new to this on my own car I have a few basic questions. I run a ‘77 Nova, 3,400 pounds, on Towel City retread (recapped Hoosier 890 ashphalt carcass). Now I have a RF 1,200, LF 1,000, RR 225, LR 200 springs with standard Bilstein shocks, factory A-arms upper and lower, new bushings, and more running on a 3/8-mile semi-banked dry, sometimes rough track.
My questions are: 1) When the lower control arms are level, is that your ride height for the front? Should it be level or down any on either side? 2) Where do you measure the ride height, center of the A-arm bolt to the ground or frame to ground? 3) Where do my upper A-arms need to be and at what angle should they be? 4) Where do I measure the ride height for the rear, center of the forward shackle mount? 5) Can I measure front and rear heights at the factory pinch welds on the bottom of the car? 6) Does adding lowering blocks add bite; does it do anything with the chassis height in the rear? 7) Does moving shackle height adjust rear ride height? 8) What would a start for ride heights be? +1 around, ie: F+1, RR+1LR+1 ? 9) What kind of tire pressure would be close on a dry sometimes rough track? I’m LF 20, LR 22, RR 24, RF 26.
I’m sorry this was so long winded, I’m new at this part of racing, just want to make sure I’m right where I need to be initially so I can apply more as I go and learn. Thanks for your time helping us racers!
You are long winded, but that’s OK. Some of this is common sense so we’ll talk overall about your questions. You can get a lot of basic information by just talking to your fellow racers at your track. If you’re new, most teams will be glad to help since you won’t be a threat to win for a while anyhow. Hopefully, it won’t take long to get up to speed.
On dirt, we generally want to keep a high center of gravity, so you can keep your ride height more towards the normal cars ride height. That being said, we need angle in our upper control arms in order to have a good moment center location, and lowering the car helps do that.
The Camaros have the longer spindles and therefore are easier to get upper control arm angles. A lot of Monte Carlo teams look for and install Camaro spindles just for that reason. I think they are 91/4 inch and the MC’s are only 73/4 inch. Check your spindle height to see if it is the long ones or short. It’s possible that the same spindles were used on the Novas and Camaros.
Most teams measure ride height from the bottom of the framerail to the floor in the front and rear. Since you run leaf spring in the rear, your rear ride height will be controlled by the mounting height of the leafs.
Placing blocks between the axle tube and the leaf springs will lower the car in the rear and running longer or shorter shackles will alter the height also. Since leaf spring suspensions have a wide spring base, you might need to either run even rear spring rates or reverse the springs you have installed now in order to get any bite on the slick track.
With the rear spring rates you now have, the car would be great for a high banked and tacky track. As for tire pressures, ask around and see what others are running. Those pressures seem high for dirt track application, but I don’t know your track like the teams who run there do.
Calculating Rear Bite?
I’ve been trying to find a formula to calculate rear bite in my stock car. Is there a formula? If so, where might I find it?
No, there is no formula for rear bite. There are formulas and software programs to find rear steer, antisquat, pull bar loading, and so on, but they don’t translate into finding the amount of rear bite.
A g-force meter would measure how many g’s the car is experiencing during acceleration and you could make changes and see if the g’s increase or not. A stop watch tells us a lot about acceleration and bite too. Just record the time it takes to get from the point of throttle application to the flag stand or other point about midway down the straight.
Bite is a product of several things. We have rear tire loading as well as load distribution between the two rear tires (the more equally loaded they are, the more grip the rear will have), rear steer, throttle modulation (sometimes you just can’t mash the gas), track surface conditions, tire compliance and softness of the rubber, and more.
Contrary to what you might have heard and read, third link angle and pinion angle do not enhance rear bite, but they do have an effect on the car. The greater the third link angle, the more anti-squat there is which transfers more load onto the link and off of the rear springs.
A High Speed Crash Wearing A H&N Restraint
I am a longtime subscriber to CT. I subscribe to many of the car mags, and I picked up a CT subscription many years ago because of your in-depth articles. I now run Open Road Races (ORR) and of course turn in both directions, but I find much of the info in CT very helpful since I do all of my own work (except machine work).
I just wanted to respond to your “Flying Lessons” article in the Feb. issue. I run toward the top of the grid in ORR seeing speeds above 200 at times. I would like to add my little story to your push to have more racers use a head and neck restraint.
In ’04 the ORR organizations did not require an H-N-R for the faster classes but it was recommended. They now require them. It just so happened that for the ’04 season I upgraded to a Kirkey aluminum seat and a Simpson H-N-R, mostly at the urging of my wife.
During the last event of the season (Silver State Classic Challenge, NV highway 318, a 90 mile run), I experienced a right front tire failure at about 165 mph. It occurred in a left curve and when the tire failed, the car ceased turning left and began to turn right. In no time I was off in the dirt.
I hit a small depression, the nose dug in and I was off on a pretty spectacular end-over-end. As the car flipped, it hit several times right on the nose. Those hits were extremely violent. I had absolutely no control over my head. Due to my well constructed cage, tight fitting racing seat, tight harness, and my H-N-R, I pretty much walked away.
I did crack vertebrae in my neck and had bruises showing up all over my body for weeks afterwards. There is no doubt in my mind that minus that well fitted safety equipment, particularly the H-N-R, I certainly would not have walked away and may not even be here today. I would urge anyone involved in just about any kind of racing to please acquire a H-N-R and always wear it making sure that it is properly fitted.
One of the things that I love about ORR is that the only rules for the vehicle are safety oriented. They don’t care what your car weighs, what kind of engine you run or what size it is, and so on. As long as it is a four wheeled car (or truck) and it can pass the safety inspection for the class that you want to run, you are good to go.
Thanks for your very helpful magazine. Much of the info can be applied to any form of racing.
—Charlie Friend; Alamogordo, NM
I did see the photos of the crash and you are indeed lucky to be still with us. Your chosen form of racing is probably the most dangerous I can think of. Although Cup cars reach upwards of 200 mph, they have soft walls now to soften the impact. You have dirt and rocks and trees.
Impacts with dirt can cause the front end to dig in and produce a lot of G-forces from the sudden deceleration. In your case, the G spike could have been way up there from 70 to 100, well into the danger range.
Your car hit a shallow dirt depression, dug in, and flipped up over several times. That first hit was probably the hardest, but subsequent impacts would have increased the damage to your neck if you had not had a restraint devise on. Good choice my friend, no pun intended.