It’s that time of the year when I start to reflect on all that has transpired over the past twelve months. If I can get past Dec. 21 and the “End of the World” phenomenon (if you’re reading this, we did), I usually take off between Christmas and New Years. I’ve been doing that for more than 20 years now and it’s my regeneration period.
I know some of you might think that I already had plenty of vacation over the long, four-month, AMSOIL Great American CT Tour, but I put in more hours working during those travels than I have ever put in with any job. When on Tour, it’s like I’m always at work. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with the territory.
All in all, it’s been a very good year for many reasons. We see progress in several areas that we think are vital to not only the continuation of circle track racing as a sport, but things that may well help to grow the sport.
Hey, for one thing, the PRI and IMIS are now one and going to be situated in Indianapolis from now on. That’s a strong positive for the sport. Indy is so much easier for most racers to come to. Having two major trade shows was not going to work out for long anyhow. It seems like cooler heads prevailed.
We have recently heard of certain sanctions, as well as individual racetracks, requiring everyone who races to wear a head-and-neck restraint device. Due to near and real fatalities in 2012, it has been proven that you can die in a race car, any race car, if you don’t take the necessary precautions. If you don’t believe that, write to me and I’ll tell you how.
There seems to be a loosening of the tech rules as to the chassis and suspensions. I heard just yesterday that one track has foregone checking ride heights. Thank you. And more and more tracks and sanctions are allowing the new form bodies that more resemble stock cars. We plan on doing some testing of those bodies to see if there really is a difference in performance.
Personally, I have had the opportunity to talk with some very successful racers this year, both from my office chair by phone and while on the road. I’m very comfortable talking tech with these guys and they seem to be comfortable talking with me. I guess we speak the same language. When you start finishing sentences for each other, you know you’re there in the “understanding,” and “on the same page” departments.
The fuel injected motor push is going to reappear in the pages of CT too. I talked with one racer who tried to run FI at Slinger only to be set back by failures of the peripheral systems needed to provide information to the FI computer. He really liked the performance, but one too many DNF’s caused him to go back to a carbureted engine.
We’ll see if we can identify the problem areas and find more durable, race proven parts that will make this thing work. We will also be doing some testing with FI engines, on track, racing with other cars. We’ll utilize the brand-new Mustang late model that Dick Anderson built for us to display at PRI in Orlando, Florida, at the end of November 2012.
And I don’t want to forget to mention the fantastic response we have gotten from all of our readers who encourage us to continue down this progressive path we are on. This sport will move forward because you, the racer, want it to. We will try to facilitate that growth and improvement based on what you want.
One of the best tools we have ever had to gather information and see for ourselves the state of the union of short track racing is, as I have many times stated, our Tour. When we finish with the west coast portion of the Tour, I plan on doing an overall assessment of racing in America, along with thoughts and suggestions for helping to make our future brighter. I will highlight the things I see that will move us forward and I will explain the things I think should be examined more closely and maybe improved.
Meanwhile, we have the 2013 season coming upon us quickly and by the time you read this, I’ll be right in the middle of Speedweeks in Florida and hard at work deciding which racetracks will be on our Tour schedule. In the interim, I’m going to the IMIS Show in Indianapolis next week and visit with some of the many friends I have been fortunate to have met in racing. I hope I saw you there.
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.
Softer Bushings for Metric Four-Link
I was reading an article you had in the Sept. issue of Circle Track about softening bushings on a metric four-links. Do you soften both upper and lower, as well as front and back on the righthand side? I’m a 50-year-old woman who raced in the Pure Stock class for four years and placed in the top five. I’m currently racing a Street Stock and I’m having a hard time with the handling. The car either pushes or it’s too loose and we can’t find the happy medium. We’re racing on everything from super dry tracks all the way to wet sloppy tracks. What direction should we go? Also what is the best all around shock or valve set up for this metric chassis? Thank you for your help and time.
The trick about using softer bushings on the right side trailing arms for a Metric four-link applies mostly to those cars running on asphalt tracks where there is hard braking and a lot of bite off the corners. I’m not sure that cars running on dirt can utilize that as much.
That being said, we really don’t know do we. So, yes, you only use softer bushings on both upper and lower, front and rear mounts on the right side only. That way, when braking on entry (I hope you brake on dirt, a lot of the professional drivers do), the right rear wheel moves back to rotate the car into the corner.
Then, on exit, when you get back into the throttle, the right rear moves forward more so than the left rear, and the car gets lots of bite off the corner. Even if the entry for dirt cars was less radical than the cars running on asphalt, I would bet that exit bite would be improved by using this method on dirt. Try it and let me know how it works out for you.
As for shocks, you can’t go wrong with “stock” shocks that are made for racing. Contact your racing supplier and find out what they have that will stand up to hard racing. I have used stock replacement shocks that are gas pressure shocks like the ones Bilstein makes for stock classes and Modifieds.
Ride Heights for NZ Saloon Racing
My name’s Codi Singer and we race a saloon car here in New Zealand. They are kind of like a cross between a Late Model and a Sprint Car. While we have been racing for 5 or 6 years and are doing all right, there are still some things that I don’t fully understand.
This off season we have completely rebuilt our car from last year and have improved it in many areas. So I’ve been reading a lot of past Circle Track articles regarding setup to help our team start the season in the right direction.
I have a question regarding ride heights for dirt track racing and adjusting it. What heights are recommended for dirt track racing at each corner of the car? Last season our ride heights were about 8 inches on the LF, RF, and RR and 71/2 inches on the LR. The car looked far too high and had a lot of body roll in the corners.
To adjust the ride heights is it as simply as winding the adjusting nut on the coilovers on the front and the adjusting nut on the torsion bars on the rear to achieve the desired ride height. Will lowering the ride height effect other things like roll center and center of gravity?
Thanks for your response.
Not knowing exactly what front end you have, I will offer some basic advice. Changing your ride height does change the moment (roll) centers, and if you change the basic rake of the chassis, it gets more involved.
Depending on whether the suspension is a straight axle (front or rear) or a double A-arm type, when the ride height changes, the arm angles change for an A-arm type and the chassis mount for the Panhard bar changes with a straight axle. Both of these scenarios mean that the moment arm changes, as does the handling with ride height changes.
Once you have designed the setup around both the geometry and the balance, you need to stay with that ride height set. If you need to change ride height for any reason, then you’ll need to reevaluate the geometry and balance for the new height.
There are other things that can change besides the moment center location and balance. The cambers and camber change is affected in an A-arm suspension and the lateral location of the straight axle as well as the axle steer are affected in a straight axle suspension.
I think you get the point that if you decide to make changes to the ride height, you’ll need to go over all of your other setup parameters so that things don’t get all messed up. And there are times when a ride height change is appropriate for many reasons. Just make sure you do it correctly and look at the other setup areas.
More Ride Height Discussion
I hate to do this to you, but I’m going to try to drag you into a debate that has been going on for several years between myself and my partner in a race car. We have both been at this for more than 20 years involving mostly stock cars including Street Stocks and Late Models. He also has several years of karting experience. We are now running an IMCA style conventional sprung Asphalt Modified on tracks ranging from 1/4- to 3/8-mile, with low to medium banking. The basic rules are 2,500 pounds, 58 percent left side weight, 3.5 inches minimum ride height, 8-inch Hoosier 700 tires.
The disagreement comes over setting the ride height. I was always taught you set the ride height to get the proper suspension A-arm angles that produce the proper roll center in the front, as well as camber gain. In the back, it’s for the correct trailing arm angles. I have also always understood that on asphalt, a low ride height is preferred to get a lower center of gravity.
The rules usually limit how low a car can be, typically 4 inches, and most builders design their cars to work in that range. I also understand dirt requires a higher center of gravity and are designed different. Most of the various brands of chassis I’ve worked with recommended 4 inches at the left front framerail and usually 1/2 higher on the right front, mainly due a taller tire at that position. The rears have always been recommended between 1/2 to 1 inch higher.
My partner sees himself as more of a “car whisperer.” Although he may set the left front to the recommended 33/4 he stands back and visually checks and adjusts to get “a good attitude. That is when the car significantly leans to the left, and has in the neighborhood of 11/2 to 2 inches more ride height on the right than the left. The control arm angles become unimportant in his method.
His insistence on the importance of a “good attitude” is bolstered by Darrell Waltrip doing stop motion of Cup cars going through the corner. Pointing out how a soft spring big bar car with the stiff right rear spring should look when the rest of the car is on the bumpstops. My question is, is there a speed advantage to running a significantly high right side ride height on a car with a conventional setup? If so, what would it be? I realize that this was part of an old-school set up, before scales were readily available. The car isn’t bottoming out or dragging on the track.
Hope you can help put this to rest. Thanks,
Come on, you knew when you wrote that what I would say, didn’t you? If looks are important to your partner, you should set up the chassis correctly for geometry and balance and then hang the body so that the “look” is correct, not the other way around.
The look of a race car will never get it to handle correctly. If aero is considered important, and I don’t dissuade anyone from trying to improve in that area, then do it without undermining the setup and alignment of the chassis.
Stay on your program of correctly setting the moment centers, camber change, and alignment based on an agreed upon ride height and don’t forget to include balance and load distribution in all of that. Mechanical grip is the most important thing you can improve for short track performance.
I believe that in the past 10 years, many Cup teams have compromised the mechanical grip of the cars by concentrating too much on the car’s attitude and “look,” as your partner has. That is why we have strong teams and weak ones as to performance when they all look the same on the track. If looks were so important, they’d all be running up front, right?
Pure Stock Rules Problems
I like the info I get from Circle Track, but I have a question. Why do the rules at the dirt track give the Chevy boys an advantage? In the Pure Stocks it should be Chevy on Chevy and Ford on Ford and so on, right? Wrong, Chevys are allowed to run 9-inch Ford rearends, but a Ford with a Holley on it they say is not fair.
Did Fords not come with Holley carbs on them from the factory like the 780? I run a 351 Cleveland Ford and they make the rules for intake valves no bigger than 2.06. But the four-barrel heads on the Cleveland has 2.19 inch valves so I asked them what do they want me to do, run two-barrel heads and an aftermarket intake to match them with a four-barrel carb.?
I never heard from them again. What are they afraid of, fair competition? I ran into this problem at another track. They said show me the facts and you can run it and I did the next Friday. I was on the track and everyone was happy and the fans loved that there was more than just Chevys on the track.
Thanks for your time.
We’re continually talking and writing about ambiguous rules packages and how many rules are either conflicting or do not seem practical. I think it is a good idea to look over the rules during the off season and make changes where appropriate.
We have spoken to several top sanctioning body leaders recently about this and they tend to agree that as time goes on, our racing changes and so should the rules. This way, we can allow the innovation that will always attract new racers while keeping the playing field equal.