Beach Ridge Young Racers
I've been reading your comments and readers' feedback on young drivers. I agree with the safety concerns, but we can't protect children from any and all dangers. All we can do is try to make their environment safe and teach them how to be as safe as possible. In my opinion, allowing a minor to drive a 3,000-pound vehicle with 300 horsepower, unsupervised, is insane, even on a racetrack.
Beach Ridge Speedway in Scarborough, Maine, has a division called Whiz Kids for drivers between the ages of 8 and 15. I think it has a program that has a good balance between safety, driver training, cost, and fun.
There are no points, no purse, no trophies, and currently the policy is the driver and one parent get in free. The race vehicles are four-cylinder compact cars with rollcages, racing seats, fuel cells, and carburetor restrictors that limit their speed to 50 mph.
The race director of this division monitors the speed at the end of the back stretch during practice with a radar gun. If a car exceeds 50 mph it's given a smaller restrictor for its carburetor and if their speed is slower they're given a larger restrictor.
Practice day is Monday. When a car and driver show up for the first time, the car is checked for safety. There's a driver orientation, then the driver is allowed on the track, without any other cars, and with the adult as a passenger who helps the driver with any questions he or she might have. When the officials are satisfied with the progress of the driver, a few cars are allowed on the track and finally they can practice and race with all the cars.
These kids learn safety, track rules, etiquette, sportsmanship, and have fun in a relatively safe environment.
I'm a retired engineer and I've been involved with racing for more than 35 years. When I hear someone on the team say, "We've never done it that way before." I use your technical explanations as justifications for making the change. I buy CT mostly for the technical articles. Keep writing those gems of information.
The important thing is that the track is actively working on a plan for young racers. This will build the numbers of racers in that area. What that program does is teach youngsters the mindset of racing in a slower and safer way.
I believe that kart racing and other forms of small race car events such as the Bandoleros and Mini-Cups do the same thing. They all teach the young race car driver the discipline needed to be able to race with other drivers, and that's very important to learn before climbing into a high-horsepower, larger car.
I'm all for young drivers coming into our sport and I do believe in a progression of learning. A kid at 13 or 14 who has raced for 10 years has most likely learned the discipline and if not, shouldn't continue racing.
Moment Center Question
I've read all your tech articles for a few years in the magazine and read everything I can online.
That being said, I'm still confused on a few things but will only ask one thing at a time. In all of the moment center articles it's stated that a lower moment center will produce more chassis roll as well as a more left of center MC will do the same. My question is how is this possible?
If the MC resists force or, in other words, roll, how can the longer moment arm of the low and/or left MC cause more roll when it has more leverage acting on it to resist chassis roll? Please help.
The leverage is between the center of gravity and the moment center, much like a pry bar. The longer the bar is, the more force that will be generated. It's the lateral force acting on the CG (being the top of the moment arm) that tries to roll the car.
So, for a given force on the CG, the longer the moment arm, the more roll we'll see. To help you understand this further, imagine the CG being in the same place as the MC, there would be no moment arm at all. Then we would see no roll at all.
I recreated that scenario when I was first studying moment arms and roll angles. I built a model and when the CG was above the MC, there was roll in the direction of the force. When the CG was at the MC, there was no roll and the model locked up. When the CG was below the MC, the model rolled opposite of the direction of the force.