I finally made the Snowball Derby and its companion, the Snowflake this year, both run at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. I was chastised by one racer for not ever coming to this huge event, but in years past, it ran on the same weekend as the PRI trade show or other competing shows, as it were. So, this year they did not compete for my attention or duty to the magazine.
I understand the attraction for this race, the season is over, the car can and will be rebuilt over the winter if something should happen, and winter has already started up north in places like Michigan and Wisconsin. Those folks will find any excuse to come south, trust me, I have lived in Florida all of my life. Most of the big name Late Model teams were here at this race.
This is a track where setup is crucial and being off just a few tenths can mean going home. And a good setup not only gets you into the show, it is important in helping to reduce the high amount of tire wear that Five Flags Speedway is famous for.
Now, about the title of this “Q&A” I did not misspell “Right,” I’m referring to the wide spread acceptance of springs for front bumpstops in not only asphalt Late Models, but for dirt cars too. Just about every major racing spring company is now offering a spring bumpstop. And there were very successful cars running on bump springs at the Snowball Derby.
It doesn’t stop there. The rumor has it that NASCAR has or will have approved using springs in place of the bumpstops and/or coil binding that has taken place over the past few years. Finally some sensibility comes to the sport after a period of frustration and conflict for the racers.
I have opposed bumpstops and bump rubbers from the very beginning. And don’t get me started on coil bind. You don’t want to go there. That said, I do fully understand the benefits of a low attitude of the front end of a race car. The lower center of gravity, the aero benefits (if there are any) and mostly the relatively fixed cambers in the front wheels are all beneficial. The cars like a consistent camber, not camber change, and always have.
Now, with racers being able to find bumps that are real springs with consistent spring rates that we know, we can finally get back to predicting our setup balance and finding the correct setup for the cars. It also means getting back to other setup parameters like improving bite off the corners, refining front end geometry and moment centers, Ackerman, and so on.
And if you remember, we ran an article a couple of years ago on an alternate way to create the bump attitude using the carbon-fiber bellows springs. These springs were not really practical for this application, but the test did show that a spring not only works as a bump, it is better.
I was also recently criticized by an industry insider for not jumping on the bumpstop wagon back when it started over 10 years ago. The author of that critique thought I was doing the magazine a disservice by being late to the party.
The only thing wrong I did, in my opinion, was that I waited too long to present a solution to the problem. I repeatedly spoke of how problematic the bumps were, but as is usually the case with complainers, I offered no alternative.
It is again an exciting time for racing and being able to develop new setups that are fast and consistent is nothing but a lot of fun. Everything we have done the past 10 years has evolved around those two primary concerns. We’ll keep going down that road as long as we have a voice to speak, and you can take that to the bank.
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.