Howe Road Course Setup
I recently purchased an '03 Howe Chassis ASA Stock Car that had been converted for road course racing. I'm new to this type of vehicle and to stock cars in general, but I'm a subscriber to CT magazine. I'm looking for articles, books, and more that can help with chassis setup and track-side adjustments for these
type of vehicles used for road course racing. I do have some mechanical skills. I'm looking for information that is more specific versus trying to interpret circle track setups and how they correspond to road course setups. Any help is appreciated.
There are many good books related to road course cars and setups that have been written over the years. Much of the information we provide has relevance to road course racing too. There are a couple of important things that differentiate the two. For one, the front end geometry and components need to be at, or nearly, symmetrical. Some teams play with favoring right- or lefhand turns if the track you are running has a predominance of one over the other. That can mean that the higher speed turns are all one way and your setup needs to favor those, whereas the slower turns could be sacrificed and less loss of speed would be experienced.
The other important principle is crossweight distribution. On circle tracks, we can deviate from a 50 percent/50 percent distribution of LF to RR and RF to LR weight. Not so for road racing, the car must have 50 percent crossweight in order to negotiate turning both ways. You can favor one way just as I have said, but not by much. And the problem arises where the front to rear percent of weight distribution creates a need for a certain crossweight distribution that may not be 50 percent. The other important factor that comes to mind is spring rates and spring split. For road racing, the spring rates need to be symmetrical, or even across the front and even across the rear. On circle tracks, we ofen use spring split to influence the roll angle at one or both ends of the car. You don't have that luxury. You must run even spring rates at each end. So, I highly recommend installing a rear sway bar in your car to help reduce the rear roll angle tendency in order to dynamically balance the car. That way you won't need to run excessively high rear spring rates to control the rear roll.
Muscle Car Body Disadvantage?
I noticed the "house"car (CT Mustang-bodied Late Model) had a muscle car body. In pASS they are giving that body a 50-pound weight break. Do you think that evens it up vs. loss in downforce, or will you be changing your body before you compete?
We have already competed with that car and have recorded very quick lap times verses the current version ABC bodied cars. No one knows just what the downforce numbers are for that body verses the ABC. But the belief that a little aero downforce advantage only will make a car a winner is a fantasy.
I went with Dick Anderson to New Smyrna several years ago and we timed laps as quick as the eventual winner in testing prior to the running of one of the biggest races of the year there. We ran old conventional spring rates, 1,200 lb/in across the front on a big spring car. In the turns we were sitting high of the track (hence very little, if any, aero downforce) in the turns, but our times were extremely quick.
Aero downforce, for tracks that are a half-mile or less in length, is much less a part of performance than other factors. What is important about the newer bump setups is the lower center of gravity and the minimal camber change once the car is on the bumps. The tires like that and always have. Those efects plus having the proper balance in the setup so that the load distribution is correct equals not only a fast car, but one that stays fast throughout the race. We are about to test our Mustang yet again with a very experienced and successful driver. I will report on our results.