Last time we talked about the left rear and what the Davenport / Rumley group were doing. Before we move on I think I would like to clarify the direction I’m personally headed in.

I’m working toward a one shock deal and something that will not only cushion the rod angle, but provide bump control. This may include running two springs independent of each other on one shock.

Maybe it will need some sort of rocker arm or push rod to make everything work.

Rule Changes to Save Money

After attending the PRI show this weekend, I heard Lucas Oil has outlawed “split birdcages” and has created some shock rule.

This info came through Chad Wehrs and he wasn’t exactly sure how the rule reads.

We’ll have to wait and see how everything reads when the rules are published.

I’ve heard some feedback saying that the sport needs the rules to keep the cost down.

This is the way I see it.

I don’t believe we need to institute rules that stifle creativity to bring the cost down when I don’t believe the major cost of running a dirt late model is not in the suspension.

Six shocks for your car will cost, probably, an average of $800 each. Some shocks will be little more; some little less. So we’ll use $800 each to put a total cost per car at between $4,800 and $5,000.

Without damaging them, they will last all year without freshening. If you have the means, fretting more is nice, but not necessary.

Look at tires.

Depending on the series and the tire rule, tires cost somewhere between $125 and $150.  To run a Lucas Oil race, I’m guessing you will spend a minimum of $500 a to even be competitive at an event. I would bet top teams are spending more that this per night.

Let’s run 50 nights.

That’s $25,000 on a budget without a tire deal. I bet top teams are spending this before they leave Florida in February. Although many top teams are on deals to aid this, but I was told tire deals are getting harder to come by.

Now let’s look at motors.

Top teams are spending close to or more than $40,000 for a motor.

Let’s just use $30,000 as a reasonably competitive motor. I’ve seen motor freshening bills from a major motor builder and these are usually between $8,000 and $12,000.

And let’s freshen that 3 times a year. (Most teams have several of these, but let’s pretend we want to be on a budget but yet run in the top five.

That’s $30,000 for the motor and another $30,000 for freshening.

Shocks and ingenuity looks pretty cheap when just comparing it to just motors and tires.

Now let’s look at all the other cost that goes into just making it to the track.

To me, rules to limit the suspension is more about making the people with money, who can’t figure it out, happy than it is about actually cutting cost.

If Lucas Oil wants to help the cost of racing, how about using it’s connections in the automotive industry and the petroleum industry to pull together a fuel deal to help pull these monstrous haulers up and down the road.

Or, maybe fix the motor or tire issues.

Ok, I’m done.

Now on to what happens to the front end.

A lot of people are finding out that really dropping the front end with soft springs is making the car drive better.

A couple articles ago we talked about why this happens. But, there is another reason.

It keeps the right rear corner connected to the track.

There is a rotation point in the middle of the car. We always used to think about our cars running in three dimensions of rotation.

Since all three can happen simultaneously, it makes the car appear to have a rotation point from left rear to right front.

Since so many cars are jacking so high on their left rear, we need to collapse the right front enough to keep the right rear digging into the track.

All cars act a little differently, but if you put a floor jack under the left rear of the car, directly below the four links, and raise it up. Usually you will reach a point where the right rear will raise as well.

To bring the right rear back down, we either need to raise the left front just like those wheelie machines of the past or we need to drop the right front even further to keep both the left front and the right rear firmly planted in the track.

You can either do this by putting a really soft right front spring in the car or you can transfer more weight to get the old spring to collapse more. I guessing you will want to do a little of both.

Now watch your right front suspension pieces. You will start running into clearance issues.

Right front tire rods may go into a bind.

The frame and bumper may start hitting the track.

Depending on the free height and the manufacturer of the spring, you may even begin to see a coil bind issue or a shock bottoming out.

This brings me to another area I believe we will run into a problem.

Rack and pinion placement.

These are beginning to be a problem.

First it will be the lowest point on the front end of the car and subject to dragging as you drop the ride height. if you raise them up you begin to get into fan, radiator, or other clearance issues.

The solution?

Get rid of racks and develop something much better for a steering system.

I kind of see something like a drag link system a sprint car uses.

Maybe not exactly, but something along those lines.

Sweet manufacturing builds some pretty cool steering boxes. Maybe one of these could be mounted near the cockpit to take more weight off the nose.

I’m not really sure if you would want to run a full drag link across the front to connect the spindles or if it would end up more like a go-cart with a center pivot and two tie rods.

There is another reason to get rid of the rack besides just ground clearance. I kind of picture this binding up the center of the front of the car.

Put your car at race ride height with set up bars. (Left rear up; right front down) and look at the angle the tie rods.

The tie rods are pushing up on the right front spindle and up on the left front spindle. Since the left front is hanging, I think the spindle is actually trying to pull the rack end down.

I’ve had cameras on the right front suspension and there is enough force there to actually bow an aluminum tie rod. I think there is enough force there to create all sorts of binding havoc in the front end.

Maybe our old ways of doing things just aren’t cutting it anymore.

Maybe it’s time for a change.

Maybe all it will take is a little experimentation and someone with the guts to try it. The first generation may not work as well as what we currently have, but I see too many problems with our current system to keep going down the same path.

Til next time; be safe,

Kevin

P.S.

I was talking to a product manufacturer who had problems, in the past, getting their products legalized for competition. They said after they began sponsoring the series. The problems with their products disappeared.

Go figure.

Money seems to solve a lot of problems.