The trend in most all of circle track racing is to run softer springs up front in our race cars. In the past I have advised against such setups for anything not able to benefit from the aero advantage associated with a lower attitude. I was wrong. I can now see where, if applied correctly, the soft front spring setups can work for most cars.

This is an overall prep guide for getting your car ready for a new season. The items I describe here can be applied all season long. Along with this guide, I will interject some wisdom that has been accumulated not only by me, but by those who are successful in racing and who I have met and talked shop with.

I won't name names here, but trust me, in my travels around the country with the CT Tour, I have seen what makes a team successful, and what does not. It's easy to get caught up in what is going on in a certain confined region, but when you see how things are developing across the entire country, you get a very good perspective. And I think I have.

So, again this year as in past years, we will present what we believe to be the formula for success related to what matters to the car and what helps to maintain more consistency to win races. See if some or all of this applies to your type of car.

I have always believed in priorities because you can make gains faster when you solve the high priorities problems first. Smaller gains can come later on after the more important aspects of setup are resolved. And, some aspects of chassis setup build on other aspects. So, here are, in order of logic and importance are a list of setup parameters we need to address to make our cars fast and consistent.

The very first step in the process of preparing for the new season is to consider all performance related items and how they worked last season. Plan out changes that could help improve performance or durability. Both of these are necessary components that will be needed to win championships. Here are what we consider to be the ten most important areas of chassis setup with number one being the most important.

1. Front End Geometry

We always start with the front end geometry on any race car. The settings including the moment center location, really do dictate how all of the other parts and pieces of setup will work. If this component on your car is not right, then the whole car will suffer, no matter what else you do. Numerous car builders have come to realize the truth in the above statements.

A tight condition is the number one complaint from drivers. The number one reason a car will be tight and not want to turn is because the front end is not designed properly. The moment center must be located correctly for your type of racing and the cambers must be set, again toward your setup style and track conditions.

The dynamics of the moment center and the effects of camber change have been explained before. We have continually pressed these issues because of the extreme importance they have. Long gone are the days of saying that the MC is not important.

The influence of the location of the front MC can be compared to a sliding scale. If you could slide the MC to the right, or outside of the turn for you road racers, the front end will get stiffer. Sliding the MC left and to the inside of the turn makes the suspension softer. The effect is huge. It is this sliding scale situation that determines the stiffness of your front end.

Cars that don't turn well are very likely to have poor MC designs. I can't tell you how many times I have refined the MC location in a car and had it totally change the way the car turned, for the better. I have had a lot of feedback from teams who did the same with the same results.

2. Rear Geometry

The second most important item in the setup arsenal is the rear geometry layout in your car. The components that locate the rearend must be evaluated and set correctly. The control arm angles affect the rear steer and the third link angle can redistribute load upon acceleration. On a Metric four-link car, the four control arms determine the rear moment center height too.

It's not advantageous to have the rearend steer to the right at any time on asphalt. A slight amount of rear steer to the left has been shown to help provide more traction at the rear and bite off the corners where it is needed. But the most useful rear steer will only occur on acceleration and not at mid-turn.

On a three-link rear suspension you should have the front of your right side control arm higher than the rear mount by 1/3 of the total amount it will travel in the turns. With setups that use a stiffer right rear spring, the angle of the right trailing arm will need to be less than when using a conventional softer spring because that corner will move less.

3. Steering Geometry

The steering system in your car must be evaluated and any negative characteristics must be eliminated. Negative aspects might include excessive bumpsteer (over 0.030 bump in or out in for each inch of travel is considered negative by most designers), excessive Ackermann (over a 1/4-degree added steer in either front wheel in 10 degrees of steering input is considered excessive), and incorrect steering quickness.

Eliminate most of your bumpsteer and Ackermann and install the correct steering ratio for your track that would suite the driver. Ackermann is easily checked by using a laser system or strings. If all of these issues are evaluated and corrected, then you can move on.