If you have comments or questions about this or anything racing related, send them to my email address: email@example.com, or mail can be sent to Circle Track, Senior Tech Editor, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619.
I get a lot of phone calls from racers. I hear a lot about the way racers go about their routines in setting up their cars and a lot about their problems. I started full time with CT in the fall of 2002 and I have written about 300 articles about race car setup and design and answered a lot of emails as a part of this column. In all of that time, the general population of racers has become better informed, not only because of my efforts, but the efforts of all of the various technical people we have in the racing community.
These include the car builders who strive day in and day out to improve their cars design, shock and spring companies, setup equipment manufacturers, other tech writers, motorsports schools, and professional consultants. New and better information comes at us from many different angles and we need to be looking everywhere for that new, more highly advanced technology that someone has come up with.
The "coming up with" takes a lot of effort, drive, and in most cases, money. These technicians don't always recover the cost of development, but they work hard at it anyway. And many times we all benefit from that hard work.
We here at CT try to glean that information out of the industry and put it out for everyone to learn from and use. But one thing remains unchanged. As much as we preach and push the basics, teams always forget over time. They tell me this on a regular basis, it's not a guess on my part. When I write a new article on a subject I have covered before, I always try to put a modern, up-to-date spin on it. In other words, I try to make it as current to what everyone is doing as I can.
Then I get emails and phone calls that tell me that a racer who has been doing this for a long time had to be reminded about a basic alignment or geometry function. They just get off the basics. We all do it. Every one of us gets somewhat complacent, if that is an appropriate term, and need to be reminded.
Maybe it's just that when new setup trends come along, we focus so much on that, that we just forget some of the basics. Some of the changes we make to the cars chassis do affect some of the basic settings. That is why we need to have a checklist to look at and run down often so that we don't get off track.
I was recently talking to a racer who had a Late Model car and the front end geometry was all messed up due to excessive lower control arm angles. I recommended making changes to get most of that angle out of the control arms and that would solve his moment center migration problems.
I thought about what he was going to do a few days later and realized that in doing the changes, the bumpsteer would be way off if he did not check and reset the bumpsteer adjustments. He may well introduce a lot of bumpsteer that would hurt the positive changes he was trying to make, and I forgot to include that information because I too had tunnel vision.
So the point I'm trying to make is this. For every major change you make to your car, try to think about what else you are changing and affecting at the same time. Visualize what constitutes bumpsteer, Ackermann, roll/moment center placement and even dynamic load distribution and think out whether the change is going to affect any of those.
And periodically recheck all of the alignment areas of your car. Make a check list and keep it handy or even post it in the shop in big letters for everyone to see. Put a few lines beside each item and put in a date when the last check was done. It will help keep you from forgetting these basics if, or more correctly, when, we get tunnel vision the next time.