Shedding weight off a dirt late model
I got an email quite while ago from one of our readers regarding the weight of his dirt late model and if there were some places I thought the car could shed a few pounds. So, I thought we could try a little experiment. He was gracious enough to open it up to the reading pubic and see what everyone thought he could do.
There is always a catch, it seems, to everything we do. The easiest way to lighten up a race car is with light weight components. The problem with light weight components is that usually they cost more money and they don’t last as long. For a racer on a budget neither of those sound like a good idea. We have built late models with weight savings in mind, but it seems to cost us an extra $5,000 to $7,000 more when starting with everything new.
If you can try to save weight the best components to try to do so is in the unsprung department. For those who are new to the sport, unsprung mass is anything that goes down when you lift your car up. Upper and lower control arms, hubs, brakes, rear end, and half of the weight of everything that is bolted to the frame and the suspension. Light weight suspension components create a double the effect of lightning. First, they take total weight off the car, second they make the suspension much more responsive. Think of it this way. As you hit a bump the wheel starts to move upward. It is the spring and shocks job to dissipate the inertia of the wheel. The lighter the wheel, the easier it is to stop and return the wheel to the track. If the unsprung mass is to heavy for the springs in the car, depending on the amplitude of the bump, the wheel will leave the track briefly at the crest of the bump. So, I guess the first thing I always look at when lightening a car is the suspension components.
On the dirt late model in the picture, it looks as though he is trying to get rid of left side weight. There are two chunks of lead, looks to be about 50# each, bolted on the right side of the car. I would try to eliminate that lead and move some components over in the car; like driver, motor, or the fuel cell. I see the battery is already moved to the right side of the car. I know the placement of the components will effect handling, but if you can achieve a lighter left side then take the weight off the right the balance might not be disrupted that much.
Taking weight off the car in the off season isn’t always the best thing for your car. Sometimes when you have a good balance to the car, whole sale changes in the off season can disrupt that balance without even realizing it. What I would probably do is come up with a game plan to slowly remove the weight. Make the motor very adjustable. Make adjustable fuel cell mounts. Maybe even come up with a plan to move the seat. Start the following season with the same basic balanced set up that you ended the year with. Then; slowly move the weight, and remove the weight a little each week. So you know when and how the balance goes away.
I honestly believe a heavy balanced car is way faster than a light weight unbalanced one. I would like to see what everyone else has to say. If you click on each one of the pictures it will open up into a larger image. Take a look at the pictures and leave a comment below in the comments section if you have some ideas on how to shed some weight from this car or your own ideas on weight vs. balance.
Till next time, Stay Warm,