Racing software has become...
Racing software has become highly sophisticated and useful. We shouldn'tbe afraid to use the computer to help our racing effort. Computers andsoftware are only tools that help us make critical decisions aboutengine tuning and chassis setup.
Today, nearly 100 percent of the U.S. population either owns or hasaccess to a computer. Even the older racers down on the farm are typingaway, one finger at a time, to send e-mails and correspond with fellowracers on the many message boards available on the Internet. Advancedcommunication that spreads the knowledge of racing technology has neverbeen faster or more helpful.
Over the past 20 years, companies haveworked to develop software packages to help racers understand their carsand perform calculations and simulations to perfect setups and drivingstyles.
Some racers are skeptical of using racing software and dislikebeing told how to set up their cars. Chassis setup is a specializedtask, and the process used is somewhat confidential. Knowledge is power,and keeping an open mind may lead to the discovery of small performanceimprovements. Remember, no racing software program will set up the car,but it will provide critical information to make decisions.
Everysoftware package offers value to the racer. Just like books on racing,all offer helpful routines and information that will aid your effort. Ifa team bought all of the available software that related to its racing,the total cost would be less than what we might spend on tire testingover a year's time. Let's take a look at the various software programsthat are available and learn a little from the suppliers about how theycan benefit your race team.
AutoWare Inc. is a distributor and developer of racing related software.It carries software from other developers such as Racing Innovations andPerformance Trends, and "House Brand" programs specifically for circletrack racing.
Front Suspension Geometry Pro
Just as the name implies, this is a comprehensive three-dimensionalfront suspension program. A unique feature of this software is the inputscreens that have actual photos of suspensions with the requiredmeasurements drawn on the photos. The software covers typical parameterssuch as roll centers and creates a computerized model on your screen.You can then run the suspension through its travel and watch the camberchange, side scrub, bumpsteer, caster change, and more right on the
screen. It includes graphs and suggestions for changes to your geometry.Rear Suspension Geometry This is a software package that addressesthree-link suspensions and Late Model four-link (floater)-style rearsuspensions. It has the same photographic input as the Front SuspensionGeometry Pro software. It creates models on the screen and allowsone-wheel bump, body roll, squat and lift motions, tracks pinion angle,fore/aft movement of the wheels, and, most importantly, axle steer forall of these motions.
Computerized Chassis Weights
A calculating machine! This software calculates everything from centerof gravity to roll couple distribution. Motion ratios, roll centers,crossweight, and more are addressed. An extremely valuable function isthe weight transfer calculations. The software is great for seeing howweight transfer is impacted by banking angle, spring changes, Panhardbar changes, etc.
A cool tool for asphalt racers. This program gives you suggestions forsetup changes based on tire temperatures, rim temps, lap times, hot andcold pressures, corner weights, and more. Great when you get a brainfreeze at the track and need a jump-start.
Chassis R&D Corporation is a company that has specialized in technologydevelopment related to circle track racing for the past 10 years. Thecompany has produced two software packages that assist racers in thesetup of their race cars.
This is a two-dimensional program that accurately locates the front rollcenter in both static and dynamic positions, and calculates the controlarm lengths and angles as well as camber changes after the car dives androlls in the turns. The entire program code was developed and written bythe company and addresses the most critical components related to frontsuspension dynamics. A unique feature of this software is that it allowsthe user to redesign his or her race car. You can quickly change the armangles and arm lengths by simply typing in new values. This allows youto make improvements to your car and see the results on the computer.
This software is the result of advanced research in race car dynamicsand was designed to help the racer find the optimum base setup forspecific tracks. The program is a much needed tool that will calculatethe "balance" of the chassis for ideal weight distribution in the turnsusing a unique patented process. The user can quickly see how the frontand rear of the car are working and match the efforts of both ends bymaking changes to the spring rates, roll center locations (front andrear), and weight distribution. The result is a car that has bothsuspension systems in harmony and working together, which is what allrace cars need. The necessary data for the calculation is easy to enter,and the process of finding the best setup is fast and accurate. Whenproperly done, the results will show on the racetrack through not onlyadded speed in the turns, but more consistency on long runs andthroughout changing track conditions.
William C. Mitchell Software
Mitchell's Racing by the Numbers suspension geometry programs have beenused for 20 years by racing teams around the world. The latest program,WinGeo3, is available for the Windows operating system. It is acomplete, three-dimensional suspension kinematic program for doubleA-arm, MacPherson strut, and a variety of solid axle suspensions,including three-link, four-link, and truck arm. Steering may berack-and-pinion or drag link.
The user can manipulate the chassis inride height, body roll, pitch angle, and steering input. WinGeo3displays all of the suspension characteristics, including camber, toe,caster, kingpin, instant center, roll center, Ackermann, and side-viewswing-arm (SVSA) values. The results are displayed on the screen as wellas in tables or plots. The user can manipulate the chassis to specificpositions or run through a range of values to mimic the movement of thecar through a turn or to produce a bumpsteer curve.
Chassis position canbe specified by ride and roll values, by spring or shock displacement,or by clearance values.
WinGeo3 can compare two or more suspensions. Thesuspension is displayed with solid-model graphics that aid visualizationof the suspension. WinGeo3 also includes suspension tutorials thatdisplay the lines needed to calculate an instant center or roll center.
The Premier/Data version of WinGeo3 uses on-board data to specify thechassis position through shock displacement and steering input. Thiscapability can animate suspension movement for a complete lap or at aspecific position on the track.
An upcoming version will add a vehicledynamics capability, allowing the user to specify springs and bars andcalculate a steady-state solution for specified g-forces. This willallow the user to calculate dynamic wheel loads with a variety ofsprings and chassis settings.
The Racing by the Numbers series ofprograms also includes a gearing program, a brake calculator, and theDebrief3 data analysis program.