It was once said that speed cost money, how fast do you want to go? No, this is not about that. It's about effort, something we could put a price on, but would rather tag as cost free. When it comes to what it takes to setup a winning race car, there is no easy way. It takes a concentrated effort and it takes work.
Some think that money can replace that effort, and in some cases it does. Hiring a person, or persons, who have the knowledge and experience to setup your car for you seems to make sense and works in many cases, but most of us can't afford to spend that kind of money.
So, we are left with the task of figuring out what needs to be done and doing it. The results will be according to any discipline. There will be some better at it than others. Why? Because some of us apply ourselves better and/or are more technically oriented than others.
Does that mean some teams have very little chance of ever doing well? No, it means that if you don't have the propensity to learn what needs to be learned and do what needs to be done, then you'll just have to find someone who can to help you.
Most teams I have been around have one or more persons who really enjoy the setup side of the race teams. They dig and read and ask questions of those who have knowledge and they try to have a positive influence on the team as a result of those efforts.
If you have one or more of those on your team, encourage their efforts, help them any way you can, and by all means, listen to them. Just as we celebrate a good driver, we need to celebrate the person(s) who setup the car to where it is capable of allowing the great driver to win.
A problem often arises from all of that when the other members of the team are not receptive to the informed team member to the point of ridicule and jealousy. So, those teams remain uncompetitive and unsuccessful. They seek to find out what "others" are doing so that they can copy those efforts into their car and magically become as successful as the hard working team. It just don't work that way, Jack.
The best advice I can give to a team is to seek out and encourage anyone who is willing to put forth the effort to help the team gain technical knowledge—for free. The payback for most setup guys is seeing their car run up front and be competitive, and hopefully seeing their car in victory circle. Just knowing that you were a big part of that success is reward enough. I know it was that way for me early on in my racing career.
For those who try to help their team and run into a brick wall, I suggest finding a team who is receptive of your efforts. The pay is the same wherever you go, zilch. So, it cost you nothing to move on. Then as you and your new team outperform your old team, you can sit back and watch with a certain sense of self satisfaction knowing you were smart enough to refuse to put up with that nonsense.
We here at CT go to a lot of effort to provide solid setup information and tips each month. I know there are a lot of setup guys who read those articles and apply the tech that successful racers use to win races and championships. I know that because I talk with, and exchange emails with, a great many of them.
Human nature is what it is. There will always be those who work hard, seek knowledge and apply what they learn no matter how hard it is. And there will always be those who seek to copy that success without putting forth the required effort. Choose the former, because it is a fact that success without effort is a hollow victory, or in many cases outright cheating.
The Famous and Highly Requested Calculator for Metric Four Link
I'm trying to campaign a metric chassis in factory stock class at Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, Oklahoma (a local dirt track), this upcoming season. I have been reading articles on chassis setups and I'm finding it a bit confusing.
One of the articles you wrote said you could provide a calculator to find things like moment centers and roll centers in the front end. And roll centers for the rear end as-well. A lot of this sounds simple enough but for some reason I can't seem to wrap my head around it. I'm a one-man team on a very low budget (who is not afraid to get my hands dirty) so any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated!
I hope you keep the informative articles coming. Thank you for your help and knowledge.
A couple of years ago, I offered a metric four-link rear moment (roll) center calculator written in Excel for free to those who asked for it. The response was tremendous and as a result, we put that calculator, plus several others, on the CT website so that anyone could download them, again for free.
I keep getting requests to send out the calculator from readers who scan the older articles and issues and see that offer. So, here is notice to all of you out there who want this calculator. Go to www.circletrack.com/multimedia/racing calculators (from the pull-down menu). Click on the ones you need and be sure you have the program needed to run those calculators: Microsoft Excel.
Hopefully this will help other racers who need to use these calculators find them. We have never offered a front moment (roll) center calculator. There are several good ones that you can buy to do that as well as more accurate and functional rear moment center calculators from a couple of companies who specialize in racing software.