The UFR team finished construction of the new Super Late Model car, so I made the trip up to Beloit to help them prepare for the first race of the season on May 9th. We have promised to keep you informed as to the progress of the car and how we would prepare it and set it up. The following is a detailed account of that process.

When I arrived, I quickly drove to Madison International Speedway to watch the first test of the new car on the Wednesday before the first Friday race. The crew had been pushed to finish the car and had installed a setup from last year just to shake the car down and make sure all of the systems were functioning. I wasn't much concerned at this point in how it handled. We would be making wholesale changes soon.

Once we had the car back at the race shop in Beloit, I outlined the process for evaluating the car and setting it up. I let Pete Raskovic and the crew chief know that we would be putting in a whole new setup, but first things first. I would need to do a complete evaluation of the car before moving on.

The following is the exact process I used and in the order presented to make sure the car was aligned and adjusted properly.

The entire crew of students, along with Pete and myself, went over the car and looked for any possible conflicts with clearance, binding, or other mechanical problems that could have a negative affect on our setup. We found shocks that were not spaced properly, a tie rod end at the spindle that did not have the spacer installed on top, and a Panhard bar mount on the axle tube that we would need to change for clearance (more on that later).

Clearance problems and mechanical binding can ruin an otherwise great setup. If one shock mount is not spaced properly or the mount is not built for the design of the top of the shock, then binding may occur that will stiffen that corner and completely change the handling. We found several areas of concern and corrected them before moving on.

We now checked all of the steering functions. These included:

1. Bumpsteer - Our bumpsteer was horrible. Each side bumped out over 0.100-inch in one inch of travel. We mounted a single dial bumpsteer gauge and proceeded to correct the tie rod alignment until we got zero bumpsteer in 2 inches of travel with the RF in bump and the LF in rebound. The next inch showed less than 0.004-inch steer.

2. Ackermann - We checked our Ackermann and found that it was set to provide an additional 0.210 of toe in approximately eight degrees of steering. This was more than I wanted, so we adjusted the left steering arm to full length and reduced that to around 0.065-inch of added toe. This was the least we could get and at this track would be acceptable. What we didn't want was 0.500-inch or more of added toe that comes from a degree or more of Ackermann.

3. Rear Steer - The rear trailing arm angles were set to LR 1.0 degree up hill to the front and the RR at 2.0 degrees up to the front. These angles would provide nearly zero rear steer with the amount of roll we would be getting.

1. Set front toe at 1/8-inch out - This was done after we had centered the steering rack and locked the steering shaft so that the wheels would be pointed straight ahead with the steering rack centered.

2. Check rear square - The rearend was set according to the squaring tabs installed by Lefthander Chassis. Even though these are usually correct, I always double check the square. In this car, the rearend was indeed square.

3. Check right side tire alignment - The right side tires were aligned at the hub height. I prefer alignment at the contact patches and we did re-align them later on.

4. Pinion / driveshaft - We did not have a chance to check this with angle finders, but a visual inspection told me we were close. The angles were less than 4 degrees and opposite at the pinion versus the transmission. We will do a detailed analysis of the alignment later.