Well, another interesting week in the world of dirt racing. This nation dirt racing committee, or what-ever they are calling themselves, has passed down more legislation clamping down further on innovation. But, let the real issues just get swept under the rug.
Soon all sanctioning bodies will have a rule book the size of ‘War and Peace’ regarding suspension design and a small loose-leaf piece of paper restricting motors; the real cost of racing.
Now, they have mandated so much, I don’t even know if a low budget car would be legal. If a low budget guy scrounged around and put something together cheap, but heavy. He might still be in violation of the rules because his steel rear radius rods might be too thick.
This is getting crazy.
Just keep making the rules so dumb people can go fast too.
Ok, I’m done for now.
Let’s move on.
I’d like to bring something up which I’ve been kind of thinking for a while, but haven’t really said a whole lot about.
It’s about concentration and seeing the bigger picture.
I’ve been practicing Tai Chi for a while now. The positive benefits are enormous. Besides just feeling better physically, I see an added benefit of better concentration and being more in tune to my surroundings.
What does have to do with racing?
I think this is where many racers get it wrong. Many racers get more ‘amped up’ before they get in the car. I think this leads to a lack of concentration and more driving mistakes.
With all the things going on in our daily lives. Then, the added hustle and bustle at the track. There isn’t much room left for absolute concentration for driving the car. Some of the best drivers I’ve worked with can almost tell how many degrees they need to turn the steering wheel to make the perfect corner.
Two to three degrees too much and the car is tight. Two or three degrees too much in counter steer and the car is too loose. Their mind is so completely uncluttered they can sense the number of degrees the wheel is being turned as the car is tossed, bounced, shaken at over a hundred miles an hour, sometimes not but inches from a concrete wall.
The next time you get in the car (or before you get in the car), try this.
Get someplace quiet. Try and erase from your mind all the clutter. Let it go for now. You can pick it all back up after the races are done.
Close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths. Start concentrating on the most basics of your surroundings.
How your fingers feel the steering wheel. The heaviness of your heels on the floor. Your head resting on the headrest. Try and feel every inch of your body in the seat. Bring yourself to a total state of being relaxed.
In this total state of being relaxed you will gradually start to notice things on the track you never noticed before.
Now, I would recommend that every driver take up Tai Chi. But, realistically, that won’t happen.
I think every driver can better their performance by just being more relaxed and more perceptive of their surroundings while racing.
This week I’m going to leave you with a little excerpt from my first book.
This is the section on Ackerman Steering.
Ackerman steering is the increasing of toe as the wheels are turned left to right. You always want some positive Ackerman steering in your car. This maintains our rule of thumb that you always want your car to toe out.
If you are having Ackerman problems here are a couple of rules to get you heading in the right direction.
- Make sure your tie rods angle in towards the center of the car – the spindle end of the tie rod is further to the front of the car than the inner pivot side of the tire rod.
- Make sure your steering arm pivot is outside of your lower
I like a fair amount of Ackerman especially on cars that run spec tire rules or hard tires. Ackerman can put some scrub in the front end and help build traction. Although as a side note, after a recent conversation with Brian Birkoffer, I changed the way I think about ackerman in the front.
I started taking ackerman out of the right front and reducing it to as close to zero as possible. Since you have a 1?8” to 1?4” of bump out on the right front you really don’t need too much ackerman. He believes too much ackerman will produce a snap loose condition under counter steer and the car will just hang with the tail out … scrubbing off traction.
On the left front, the nice thing about Ackerman is that the further you turn left the more traction the left front tire will get. This will help you turn as the car gets tight. I see ackerman on the left front anywhere between 3?8” to 3?4”.
As weight transfers off of the left front tire more traction is needed in that tire to help the car turn. Ackerman will provide the additional traction in that tire.
There is one downfall to Ackerman. The front tires run at two different slip angles. We learned earlier that every tire has an optimum slip angle it needs to run at to get maximum traction. If you have extreme amounts of Ackerman … You know one of your front tires will not be getting the most traction it could. One of the tires will either be under loaded or overloaded.
Steering arm length also affects where the rack is placed in the car. If you look at your car from the top down, you’ll notice that your tie rods angle forward to the spindles … at least they should. Now turn the wheels left and right to make sure the tie rods never go over center and angle towards the back of the car.
This will also put a steering leverage bind in your car and the steering will not be smooth and consistent. There is a lot of force which gets loaded on the right front, especially under counter steer. Any binding will be greatly amplified under racing conditions.
If you’re steering arms are short … move your rack back in the car to make sure at full lock the tie rods are at least straight perpendicular to the centerline of the car. This adjustment also will change the amount of Ackerman in the car.
I’m hoping to also have my newest book in the Apple IBooks store today and this original book in there very soon.
That is if you are an IPAD user or have an IPhone. Both these books will be the same that you can get through Amazon, they just might look a little different.
I’ve also had some requests for an audio version. If you’d like to see an audio version, drop me an email.
Ok, till next time, be safe,