A subject came up the other day while I was walking the aisles at the PRI show in Orlando. I was talking to longtime racer Wayne Anderson about his new F.A.S.T. series here in Florida and the subject came up about passing, how to and how not to.
The conversation was short, but it stuck in my mind. I jokingly asked him, now that he was part of the management of a series and a racer in that series, if he were to be involved in an incident if he would go to the back like everyone else was expected to do. Of course he immediately said he would. Once in the car he would be like any other driver.
I told him I remember the days when the veterans and more experienced drivers could pass without spinning out the other driver. There was a true art to driving, and in some cases still is, that takes place and is a thing of beauty to watch.
He said he completely understood my meaning and that when he nudged someone out of the way for being a bit slower, ". . . they never knew it happened." And that is the way it should be. The right kind of pass is of a nature that everyone is left wondering if the cars touched or not.
One of my all-time favorite races was between Jay Fogleman and Bobby Gill at St. Augustine in the Hooters Pro Cup Series some years ago. I had engineered Jay's car, so I had more than a casual interest in the outcome. With 25 laps to go and under caution, Jay was on the point and Bobby behind him. Basically there was no one in the race but them, they were the class of the field.
In those days, if Bobby was behind you with 25 to go, the best you could expect was Second Place. But Jay held on after the restart and at 10 to go, Bobby executed the precision pass that I am talking about going into Turn 3. Jay came right back going into Turn 1 and executed another precision pass and held on to win. That was good stuff because both cars survived. It was pure skill and experience at work.
Passes, the quality ones, take a few laps. You first give a slower car time to understand the situation and give way. If he really doesn't want to give away the position, then he needs to speed up, if he can. Some do that, for a few laps, but can't sustain the speed for various reasons from, 1) the car won't stay under them, to, 2) they fall out of the seat.
At any rate, once a pass has taken place, if the passer walks off and leaves the passee, then the passer had every right to nudge the other car out of the way so that they could get on with their race. It's only fair.
The problem with some newer drivers (older drivers have lost too much equipment and money and learn better at some point in their careers) is that they aren't patient and don't know how to skillfully nudge a car out of the way. They run into the other car hard and usually cause a spin with one or both losing ground or worse.
The solution is as it has been forever, if you make hard contact with another car, you get sent to the back or get the black flag. Officials take note here, show some authority and enforcement. Give me the flag and I'll throw it, gladly. It pisses me off when I see a lack of finesse with some of the drivers out there today. Maybe it's the fact they have too much money to race with or it could just be lack of experience, but if you put them back a few times, they will learn the art, trust me on that.
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.
I have been a reader of racing and car magazines for so long I can't remember the last time I wasn't looking forward to getting the mail and possibly a new issue. I sit here with possibly my last issue of Circle Track in my hands. I can't seem to find a reason to renew my subscription.
After reading countless articles of how tough it is to race in the current economic climate I find you making a comment to a young ambitious racer, "hey stop racing until you can afford it" and "sounds like more of an addiction to me". You should be ashamed of yourself! Maybe working with professional teams has left you out of touch with real racing.
Real grassroots racers have to budget, cut corners, buy used, go to swap meets, and make decisions like, "can it last another year?" To suggest a racer has an addiction because he does everything he can to keep going is shameful. How about offering a few words to help his situation? Take a few weeks off, find some sponsorship, or make sure to take your time building your new engine.
We are aware that the price of safety equipment will never go down because it is mandated in most cases. There is no supply and demand, only demand. H&N devices are great but please don't suggest that we give a large portion of our racing budget up to purchase one.
Bob, when is the last time you took a 10th place, 15-year-old street Stock, put it up front with a $2,000 annual budget and purchased a $500 piece of safety equipment? You are probably too busy putting together corporate-sponsored cars and testing them on the most advanced level machines to realize that this is the way we race.
Entry-level racing would disappear with your suggestions. By the way, how are your million-dollar project cars doing? I get the feeling from your articles that you are the best thing in racing since the invention of disc brakes, and looking at the results of your projects, one could argue differently.
Maybe Circle Track should hire someone from Clay Rogers' crew to write a column about winning five times this year. You always have the last word as you did with this young racer so if this article gets published slam me like all the others but realize one thing, I am not a better racer or better person after reading your columns, and that should be your goal.
Ouch! Thanks Stu, I love people who you don't have to guess what's on their mind. You make some very valid points and I agree that racing is expensive and racers need to cut corners to make things work sometimes. Here are my thoughts on what you had to say.
Offering suggestions on how to cut costs to someone who can't afford to race is like asking a junkie to shoot less heroin. The only solution is to quit, not cut back.
I haven't really lost touch with the grassroots racers and I actually did help a 10th place Street Stock team with a 15-year-old car on a $2,000 budget get to the front with much of the same technology I use on "million dollar project cars" (Ed. Note: See "Stock Class Handling Tips," Sept. '09 Circle Track).
It is true that the cost of some of the necessary safety equipment is high for the average racer, and I think the industry is taking stock of that. I see prices dropping for some very good H&N systems. Look around and you might find one for well under $500, or less than the price of a cheap laptop.
By the way, I know Clay Rogers' team very well. Jim, Jon, and Jeff Craig have been friends of mine for more than 10 years now and I helped them with their Goody's Dash cars and their AllPro cars. I pretty much know exactly what they're doing with their setups, but won't share that here. I don't think they will either.
Believe it or not, I'm not the best thing since disc brakes, but as far as our projects go, we don't own these teams, and what they end up doing and the success they have is related to many factors. If I were in complete control of all aspects of the performance of the cars, I could then take full responsibility, but I'm not. What I would like for you to do is read the next letter. It doesn't necessarily prove my point, but it is a true perspective.
I started Hobby Factory Stock at age 22. I almost won rookie of the year, but a mid season tie-rod break cost me three races. I had to re-clip the car and didn't have the resources to get back to the track, therefore I took 13th Place for the season.
I didn't have enough money to race so I went from good credit to very bad credit and now I can't buy a house. I didn't realize then that I was addicted to racing! So here comes the 2009 season with high hopes. The car is re-clipped and I learned a whole bunch from the guys at Circle Track and we were fast. We had a great season and took Fourth in points for the season, we improved and so it was a successful season.
What I am trying to say is that I sacrificed too much to be successful. There are things I'm not proud of to get that Fourth in points. I owe people money all over town, which will be paid back eventually. To all you people who think you can race and really can't afford it, take a look at your finances. Is it an addiction? Probably! I looked back and realized that I was addicted to racing and spent too much money that I did not need to be spending on racing.
I decided that I will not be racing this 2010 season, but yes I will always love racing and I will be back, but it will be when I can afford it or have a full sponsorship backing me. I need to keep my priorities in a row. Wife and kids, dogs, job, credit, house, a few other things, and then racing . . . if I can afford it! I can go on and on about what not to do but we would be here all day and I now need a job. So if your hiring for anything at Circle Track magazine let me know.
On a good note, I raced my two years with two different promoters and the guy that took over our track totally turned it around and Santa Maria Speedway is on its way up through the roof. The season is over and they are still racing carts on the little track he built in the infield. He has made it fan-friendly and racer-friendly. I wish them good luck in 2010, it could only get better. I definitely will be there watching.
BB in California
Your message is one many racers need to hear. It's one thing me saying all of that, but when someone comes forward with their story, it lends support. This situation is not the norm in racing, and may well be a small problem, but it does exist.
If you feel you must race when you don't really have the funds to do it, evaluate your individual situation and take honest stock of where your money is going versus where it should be going. Family is life and death, racing isn't. The industry will survive your absence.
First, let me commend you and the staff at Circle Track for the great information that you provide in each issue. I've been a subscriber for many years and have been fortunate enough to witness the evolution of BBSS setups, as well as the increased understanding of the moment center (roll center) technology, pretty much in their entirety.
I have worked on straight-rail Late Model chassis for more than 10 years, but I'm curious to know what is the true purpose of a drop-snout? I'm envisioning that it is to better-align the sway bar with the front lower control arms, allowing for increased efficiency in the front geometry system. Please advise. Again, thanks for your hard work and great information.
Nelson (Rob) Watkins
The drop snout is a product of the late '90s when we were trying to increase the angle of the upper control arms to better control the moment center. What dropped were the framerails and the upper chassis mounts. This allowed us to increase the upper control arm angles.
There was a run of technology that came along around 1995 where builders tried to eliminate camber change by making the upper arms nearly level. That exasperated the problem. What they were doing wrong was evaluating the camber change by just moving the wheel up and down and not taking into account chassis roll and its affect on camber change.
We quickly went from level uppers to drop snouts once everyone caught on. Nowadays, drop snout might have a little different meaning. We can drop the front of the car by using drop spindles where the spindle pin is located higher up, dropping the whole snout, not just the framerails.
Through all of this, we still need to keep track of the MC and there is a movement away from the extreme BBSS setups to a more soft conventional setup, or SCS. There, I coined the term and intend to use it often.
Dirt Car Setup
I have read your Stock Car Set Up Secrets book front to rear several times and find it very helpful. I have also purchased software programs but have not had much success with the chassis setup so far. I would appreciate your input on some questions.
The car is a metric Monte Carlo Street Stock with 500-plus hp on dirt with 10-inch wide Hoosier 500 tires. This is the first year I have run this car but have had some success with the metrics in the past in different divisions. In response to your "Metric Rear Roll Center" article where you stated that the left-side tires should be nearly the same temp front to rear, does this still apply to a high-horsepower car on dirt?
Would it not be reasonable to see slightly higher rear temps since they are working all the way down the straights also? My temps are nowhere close to balanced but how close should I expect to get them? LF 100 degrees, RF 120 degrees, LR 140 degrees, RR 145 degrees.
I race on a 3/8-mile, medium to high bank dirt track that almost always packs in tight and smooth and takes rubber from top to bottom. It rarely gets dry enough to come apart and get dusty, but instead takes on a black, polished look.
Where should my weight be placed? Is some right-side weight OK or should it all be low left? Currently, 54.5 percent left, 53.5 percent rear, 51 percent cross, 3,150 pounds total. I have about 300 pounds of lead to play with plus the battery. I have some of it high and some on the right side. I installed spindles off a metric Impala with longer upper and lower ball joints and aftermarket upper control arms with fabricated inner mounts.
The problem is the car will get tight unless I am on the gas hard enough to spin the rear tires. If I lift enough to regain rear traction, the car will start a slight push, forcing me to slow down in the middle of the corner. This really surprised me since these are the softest front springs I have ever run and I was expecting the car to be loose, if anything. I've checked several times to make sure the RF is not bottoming out. It's coming close with well over 3 inches of travel, but will only hit on occasion if the track has a rough cushion on top.
Front Roll Center= 3.5 inches high 6 inches left and moves to 2.5 inches high 1 inch left, springs LF 850-pound, RF 800-pound, LR 250-pound, RR 200-pound, and 2.25 inches rear stagger. Are these front springs too soft and causing a problem? Everyone who is trying to help says to stiffen the front up to at least a 1,200-pound RF but I think that will make the problem worse. Do you see any obvious problems and what are some things I should look for? Am I just crazy for trying this in the first place since the guy who built the car had everything just about opposite of what I do now?
I really appreciate any thought you can put into this.
There are several things that jump out at me. First your stagger is more suited for an asphalt car than dirt. You should try to run more stagger up to 3 to 4 inches.
Your track has traction from what you said, and so the g-forces are higher than would be expected of a dry slick track. More force means a tighter car for the same setup, so you need to change the setup. Try a stiffer RR spring. Your front springs aren't too soft unless, as you say, the car hits the track.
The moment center location is fine and your weight distribution looks OK for rear percent and crossweight, but try to lower the moveable weight and move more to the left too. On banked tracks and ones with more traction, a lower center of gravity and more left-side weight helps. And, you're not crazy for trying all of that, you just need to tune it. Once you get the push out of it, things will improve.