Next, prior to the next race, take your new spiral notebook, your new pen, and start documenting the starting point of how your car is set up. Start out with the date and track at which you’ll be racing. Document everything you can think of, such as:

• Tires, age and the manufacturer’s number, it’s a unique identifier on every tire, diameter of the tire at the pressure you will be running
• Wheels, condition, off sets, what your starting tire pressures will be
• Shocks, condition and where the compression and rebound are set (list this for each individual shock)
• Gearing
• Springs and their location on the car
• If there’s a sway bar on the car define the critical parameters, bar diameter, and how much preload is in the bar
• Weight of the car as a total, the weights at each corner and, just as a double check, the sum of the corner weights should equal the total weight of the car. If not, there is a problem some place (I have had the experience of these weights not adding up to the total weight of the car; that should be a warning that somebody’s scale is a bit off)
• Suspension settings, caster, toe, camber

This is just a beginning list but it should give you a good starting point for your DA system.

At The Track
At the races, once again check all of your starting parameters and if anything has changed make the required documentation to the data sheet. You’ll also need to make some additions to the data sheet that you couldn’t make at home. For example, data, such as the type of day or evening you will be racing in from an environmental perspective:

• Ambient Temperature
• Humidity
• Starting pressure in each tire
• Starting tire temperature
• Track temperature, (it matters on the dirt too)

Once the car hits the track, start recording every lap and documenting the lap times. At this point it might be a good time to talk about on-track observations to go along with the lap times. The more notes that support a data set, the better the data. This is a great place to talk about the condition of the track. Was it heavy, dry, starting to take rubber, what was happening? “Why is this important?” you might ask. This gives you more insight to the performance of the car over a given set of circumstances and to the variables that you have no control over.

Once the session is over you need to accomplish several things very quickly after the car is off the track. These are time-based measurements, so getting them done as quickly as possible is important:

• Tire pressures
• Tire temperature (this is great information if you have the tools to do it, more on this later)
• Suspension travel (this can be measured by shock travel and doing the math that will equate to wheel travel based on the shock travel)

While you’re taking these measurements, the driver will have enough time to get out of the car remove his or her helmet, get a cool drink, and then it’s time to debrief your driver. How did the car feel? Was it loose? Was it tight? How was the engine running? Was there enough grip? Was the gear right? These are all things you need to get the driver to tell you. This is your attribute data set.