I have often said to those who are not racers that I don’t find lazy people who race. Almost to a person, the racers and crews are made up of hard working and ambitious types who are very competitive and are willing to do what it takes to compete.
And so that makes this group and this sport much different than a lot of others in our general population. I think that is true of any sport too. An argument used to be made that race driving is not a sport. But by the work ethic definition, it is by all means a sport. That goes for all of the crew members, just like it goes for the entire football or baseball team, even the second- and third-string players and support personnel and coaches/crew chiefs.
The reason I bring this up is to illustrate to ourselves that we can be proud of who we are. The more chances I get to tell racers how alike we all are, the better in my opinion. I see where intense competition can drive teams to isolate themselves from other teams as if they are different. Not so. We all are very much alike in many respects.
What may differ is the integrity within a team. Not unlike the society we live in today, there may be racers who are in denial as to their actions. It seems to be the popular way to go to deny an action taken by someone that ends up being wrong and where consequences are paid.
Rough driving, blocking, cheating, and assault with a race car are all ways that we can be judged wrong by the officials and it does more harm to deny it occurred or that it was in fact wrong. If we, as racers, can show more integrity and honesty in our racing, it might just be a good example for our young racers and youngsters in general.
Before you write in, I’m not saying there is a problem with integrity or honesty in short track racing. What I’m saying is that I see isolated displays of juvenile behavior that puts a black eye on our sport.
If you have been wronged in an incident, there are several ways you can react. The high road would be to silently steam it off and let the officials take care of the situation. If they don’t take care of it to your satisfaction, a discussion can and must take place once the heat of the moment has passed.
Getting pissed off is a natural result of being wronged and is a basic human trait and one that is common among highly competitive individuals. But showing restraint and using your head is much more mature and a great example for the younger drivers and crews.
Have I ever lost my temper and said or done things I regretted, sure. Would I do those things again looking back and seeing the results, not very often. We all learn from our mistakes and that makes us human. Others learn from our mistakes too. They either learn not to go that route, or they learn that is the way you’re supposed to react which is the wrong lesson.
My purpose in all of this rambling on is to try to clean up our sport a bit. Most racers are doing great in the integrity department. Our federal government could take some lessons from many of the racers I know and have seen across this great nation. Let’s keep up the good work and know that how we display ourselves influences those who are watching.
So, if you are in the tiny minority that can’t handle your anger, learn from your peers who have learned from theirs. Suck it up and bite your lip. Take time for the heat to dissipate before speaking or acting out. In the long run, you’ll be very glad you did.
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.
Full Of Hubris?
Yes, thank you for confirming in the Oct. ’13 “Track Tech Q&A” what I had suspected of you. My impression of you was that you are arrogant, full of hubris, and make ignorant comments, and you confirmed just that.
Just before this email, I canceled my subscription, mostly due to your poorly thought out commentary, and for the fact that Circle Track is a waste of my money, compared to what I can read and download from the internet. Your magazine is irrelevant, as far as I’m concerned.
Some points that I want to make: Although I have nothing against a little bump; spinning, door-slamming, and wrecking a competitor is not racing. A real racer, when he is being blocked, finds a way around, not through his competition. Formula 1 racers tend to block sometimes, and seeing someone cleanly get around that is impressive, at least to me.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. was not known as a clean racer, and he wasn’t the only one with that reputation from back in the day. With your logic, was Dale Earnhardt responsible for the crash that claimed his life, since he couldn’t “...stay off someone’s front bumper?”
I’ve been a race fan since 1968, and have been a pit crew member. As far as I have seen, today’s young drivers are just as good, honorable, and professional as any other era. Maybe you were referring to NASCAR drivers, but whoever you were referring to as “you young racers,” was not made clear. I haven’t watched NASCAR in about 30 or more years, so I’m not up to date on what is happening there. I’m a dirt track fan only, and go to races every week possible.
Just because you are getting gray in the beard, doesn’t give you a license or authority to insult, and categorize all of “you young racers” as being “a whiny, pouty, big mouth.” Maybe you ought to think of how you are going to be remembered. If you are so superior, and an authority figure, why don’t you try to educate and encourage “you young racers,” how to become better people, rather than resort to cheap shots and insults, which were not made in the presence of those you are insulting. That was not very brave at all, and revealed your character. It takes more of a man to help make others better, rather than tearing down and insulting them.
Not everybody has a “stoic” personality, and not being talkative is not a sign of superior character. If you haven’t noticed, most Americans are talkative and outgoing. The good old days, and the people in them, weren’t always so good. Time and nostalgia has a way of distorting one’s memory. You are no better than the people that you have insulted, and being older than them, you should know better.
-- Roger Mansfield
Thanks for writing. I do think you need to just come out and say what you think! I agree with some of what you present, but not all of it. I don’t really think of myself as arrogant, but I’m opinionated about certain things. There is a difference.
In my three plus years of travel, I’ve had the unique opportunity to view the actions of lots of racers, young included. In my Q&A I never said all young drivers were whiney, pouty, big mouths, but from what I’ve seen, a few are. It was that group that I was referring to. I think the drivers can figure out who it pertains to easily enough.
When I addressed “you young racers,” I was asking them how they wanted to be remembered so that when and if the situation came up whereby they got angry with something that happened on the racetrack, they could be aware that how they react might just stick with them forever. I don’t apologize for that.
I’m sorry you took offense to the content and you obviously see a lot of good, responsible, young racers where ever you watch races. I do too. If I can help one or more drivers to rethink how they act, including the NASCAR drivers, one of whom I was in part referring to, then I will have done my job here at CT. Thanks again for your input.
Physics of Fast School Project
My 11-year-old daughter, Maddi Jo, decided to use front end geometry for her science fair project. She titled her project, “The Physics of Fast.” She made a wood model of a chassis and used nails to show different moment center locations. She used a fish scale to show force required to make the chassis roll.
Using an angle finder, she would pull the chassis from the varying moment center locations and measure the amount of force required to make the chassis model roll to 20 degrees. She graphed the results and was able to show that a longer moment arm required less force to roll the chassis 20 degrees, thus allowing the chassis to roll over more easily.
She then made an illustration showing how changing the control arm angles can move the moment center location. She won First Place in the science fair and her teacher said that it was one of the most unique projects she had ever had. Thanks for providing such good information.
-- Greg Williams; Ft. Gibson, OK
Thanks so much sharing your daughter’s story. I have so many people I talk to who read our magazine and try to understand the technology that have a hard time understanding some of it. And here, Maddi Jo, at 11 years old, has understood the concepts so well. And it’s amazing that she has an interest in the physics of racing.
I think this should give incentive to many of the racers who think this stuff is too difficult to master. Hey, Maddi Jo did it, you can too. A lot of this stuff is just common sense. Helping the chassis to have what it wants is all it is. Understanding what the chassis wants is the first step in creating the right setup that accomplishes that.
In order to solve a problem, we must first understand what causes that problem. The concept of moment arms and moment centers is central to understanding what the front end, or any double A-arm suspension, does and needs. Thanks again for writing.
Moment Center for Street Stock
We run at Nash Speedway on the quarter-mile flat track. I would like for you to give me a few suggestions on moment center for this type of track. We are running a 3,400-pound mid-’80s model Caprice. I have a set of talk spindles on it and we are allowed to run aftermarket A-arms on the top.
What would be some good angles for the upper and lower A-arms to get the moment center close to where it will work well? I can measure for moment center but I don’t have a program to calculate it for me and no one is willing to let me use ones they have. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
-- Andy Ford
I can only give you general suggestions. As you know, I always recommend using software to calculate the moment center mostly because we are interested in the dynamic MC location, the one where it moves to after the chassis dives and rolls. Using software is the only way to know that location. That being said, here are some suggestions.
Generally speaking, we want less of an angle in the lower control arms, and we want more of an angle in the uppers for a stock chassis. For a lower banked racetrack, we usually want more of an angle in the left upper control arm than the right upper. This moves the MC more to the left and left of centerline a bit.
Don’t overdo the difference in angles since that might move the MC too far left, and that is not good either. A difference of 5 to 8 degrees should be sufficient. The work you are doing will make a huge difference in how the car turns, which is the primary problem with how those cars work. The cars that have this worked out usually dominate their class.
Weight Vs. Rear Percent
As a longtime follower of your columns, thanks for your insight into the dynamics of race cars. I have a theoretical question for you. Given that you are racing on dirt in an entry-level class with no weight limit (weight jacks legal), would it be more beneficial to run as light as possible, sacrificing some rear percentage or stack the weight on to achieve what is perceived to be the ideal rear percentage?
More specifically, would having the car weigh 2,800 pounds with 50 percent rear percentage be better than a weight of 3,200 pounds with 53-54 percent rear percentage? And another passing thought: NASCAR wants to make racing more exciting. Imagine a night race with magnesium splitters. Hmmm.
-- Ron Miller
I just saw a Sprint Car race where the cars were bottoming out and throwing sparks and it was admittedly cool to watch. As long as one of those burning pieces of magnesium doesn’t get in someone’s eye, I’m for it.
As for the weights, I personally would rather run 400 pounds lighter with the 50-50 front to rear percent. Rear weight doesn’t necessarily provide rear bite. It does create an unbalanced polar moment that wants to swing the rear end out through the turns.
In any case, on dry and slick tracks, move what weight you can to the right side of the car. This loads the right-side tires more and helps to bite through the dust on the dry track and promotes grip and side bite.
Distinguishable Race Cars
Current models are great. I think that they don’t have to be current as long as they can be distinguished from one another. As you can see the Northwest Early Stocks provide great racing and cars that stand out with their individuality. Race cars are cool! Let’s keep them appealing.
-- Gil Rapp
That’s exactly what I saw running at State Line Speedway in northwestern Idaho. Three nostalgia racing organizations combined their numbers to race there recently. And I agree, the cars stood out and were recognizable from one another. And the fans loved it.
The following was copied from the Slinger Speedway website and was written by Dan Margetta. It describes an incident that happened in the August 11th Super Late Model race with two drivers battling for the lead. It demonstrates not only a great rule, but a driver with the honesty and integrity to apply it to himself. It reads:
“The caution flag waved again on lap 33…Church chose the inside lane for the restart with Bennett alongside and Bennett gained momentum exiting turn two to clear Church for the lead entering turn three. As Bennett moved into the lower groove, contact with Church’s car sent his machine looping around. Bennett was allowed to keep his spot on the track after Church used the new “tap-out” gentleman’s rule claiming responsibility for the incident.”