I've been on a bit of a discovery binge of late. I have ventured out and done some experimentation using my imagination and made some significant discoveries, some of which you will read about in this issue. I can't tell you how much fun all of that was. And it made me think about racers in general and how we all yearn to discover.
I get displeased sometimes with the direction some teams go in the quest to find the "perfect" setup. But isn't that what racing is all about. From the time I was a small kid, I read hot rod magazines and others and followed racers around trying hard to understand what it is they do. The mechanics of the sport intrigued me more than anything else and I fell in love with the way racers were never defeated.
When they ran up against something difficult, they got busy. There was nothing that couldn't be designed and built to suit the problem at hand. There was this freedom of thought and actions in racing, with no one telling them they couldn't do this or that, that interested me to no end.
Rules are a racer's arch enemies. Of course we need some rules, but when we restrict the basic processes that make us want to go racing, we take away that which drew us in the first place. Tech officials take note. Some racers want it made easy with lots of rules that produce cookie-cutter cars, but most, and I emphasize most, don't want the excessive restrictions. The problem is this, the whiners will usually cry louder than the majority.
We desperately need the innovators, engineers, and scientists in racing. And I'm not talking about degreed individuals necessarily, although those are welcomed too. I'm talking about the average guy with a mechanical inclination who just loves to build things and see them go fast.
Getting back to my personal discoveries, I have never considered that everything that could be known about race car design and setup has been discovered, applied, and written about. No way. We all need that extra boost that comes when the light goes on and you experience that Halleluiah moment. You know what I'm talking about.
It usually comes when there is something that is happening and you just can't put a finger on why it is happening like it is. I still have areas of setup engineering where I just can't define why something works, but I can't deny it does. I just can't explain how. And that frustrates me to the point of obsessing on the search for the discovery.
My thought for the day is this, when you get to a point where you can't figure out something on your race car, dig and push until you do. I'm probably preaching to the choir here. The answer to our mysteries lies somewhere, if only in a place waiting for discovery. We can all be explorers in this sport and you never know when you might be the one who comes up with the answer.
If you have made your own discoveries and want to share them with the rest of us, please don't hesitate to write and we will do all we can to pass it on. It's very simple, the easiest way is to email me here at Circle Track. We may even open up a special section for these ideas if the response is big enough. Meantime, keep those brains working and try not to push those unwanted rules too far, just far enough to have fun.
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.
Accident or Two
I was reading your article about Massa and the coil-spring incident, the situation strikes very close to home with my family. I was a SuperModified racer for 20 years, and am now the co-owner of the track where I did most of my racing, Oswego Speedway. Whether it be good or bad, my son is now in his fourth year of racing Supers.
There is no Masters of Modifieds or Doctorate of Dirt Late Model degree that I know of, unfortunately. There should be. These cars are far more complicated than any course you will ever take in college. There are opportunities to help design and build race cars in college. Look around and find one that suits your interests and that's not too far from home.
I believe you are thinking in the right direction and your college experience will enhance the designs of your family's race cars. Remember that true learning comes after college, but we use that knowledge base to build on. I graduated with a mechanical engineering degree, but only really used it later on in life. I never forgot the principles though.