K.I.S.S.-no, not the rock group:
The concept of keep it simple, STU...
I talk to a lot of racers. In doing that, I get a sense of how they do things; how what they do helps them be successful, or not; and what works for most teams. The approach is everything. And what seems to work most of the time is keeping your approach simple. A lot of you readers get that point, but many don't.
There are, simply, certain critical issues you need to address for any race car, be it a Street Stock or Formula 1 car. These issues involve alignment, spring setup balance, weight distribution, and roll/moment center management. It is always the same issues that will either come together to help you be successful or that when mismanaged, will keep you at the back of the pack.
What many teams do is overcomplicate the issues. They over shock the car, over spring it (can you say stiff right rear spring?), they over soften it, over rear steer it, or they just plain over think it. The most successful racers I've met are the ones who work into a very good setup and then stay with that setup. And it's usually more toward the conventional side rather than exotic.
Example: I worked with a team one year and we won both the track championship and the regional championship with 14 wins. Two years later, the team couldn't get a Top 5 finish. I visited one Saturday and looked over the setup sheet. It had changed from the successful setup that had won races to what-ever. I said, "We're going back to what worked two years ago," and we did. The team won the race that night in dominating fashion.
Simply stated, if you find what works, stay with it. Keep it simple. Just because everyone is experimenting doesn't mean you have to. When you get the four tires working and happy on your car, work on driver development, tire selection and management, engine tuning, and so on, but leave the setup alone.
In most racing, having a comfortable car for the driver to drive is most important. Now push the limits with the car. Don't let a good setup put the driver to sleep. Motivate him/her to push harder.
We got wrecked in the first race of a twin 100-lapper show one night and put the car back to close to where it was before the wreck, before the second race. The driver was pissed off and in the final race, where he had to start from the rear, he drove up through the field and drove away from the leader at the end of the race. We realized that the car had even more in it than we had seen in the past and his extra "passion" brought it out.
There is a certain car owner whose car wins almost all of the time here in Florida when a good driver sits in the seat. He runs a more conventional setup and standard shocks-6s on the front and 5s on the rear. It is simply a very balanced setup with all of the peripheral issues worked out such as Ackermann, rear steer, and moment centers. And the setup doesn't change race to race, year to year. It just keeps on winning.
Can you do the same? As Sarah Palin would say, "You betcha." We tell you how to make all four tires work and how to tell when that is happening. We tell you how to adjust for rear steer and all of the other aspects of alignment. You have the tools, you just need to apply them and go racing. And most of all-apply and use the K.I.S.S. principle
If you have comments or questions about this or anything racing related, send them to my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail can be sent to Circle Track, Senior Tech Editor, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619.
Too Many Rules
Too Many Rules
I certainly enjoyed your article and Circle Track April issue, pg. 8. To keep my background brief, my wife and I got into racing late in life, but thoroughly enjoyed our last years of racing Outlaw Late Models in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. I agree, wholeheartedly, with your column regarding too many rules, which are diminishing the racing as we know it today.