How to Build Speed
Updated: Apr 12
This is the question I often get asked, how can I be faster? Well we would like to think that there is just one answer to this question, but it comes in a series of things that need to happen to both you and the race car. The 1st time I was asked this question I think I gave a poor answer in compared to today. The 1st thing we will need to do is look at the car, where are we with your current setup and how far can we go with that setup. Each setup has a life cycle or a time frame in which it will work before we run into a stopping point with it. Most of the time when some ask the question they are at that point and just don’t know it. Sometimes we need to back up a way and start over because we overlooked some important factors that will not allow us to go on, things like tight on entry.
For the car, this is going to be a balancing act between the front and the rear, and we are going to need to balance the car between spring rate, rebound and drive. Sometime speed come with the lack of drive and drives are not that pleased with their increase in speed because of the lack of feel in the car. This brings us to the other thing that needs to be fix in the car, “The Driver”. This is the harder of the two to fix and there are many reasons, one of those is time, too much or not enough or both in a lot of cases. So, let’s look at both and see what we can do to increase your speed in a race car.
The Car Setup
We will start with a standard USRA stock car and cover some of the basics, this will apply to all cars because it is a procedure and not just a percentage that we are talking about.
RF: 1100 spring/ 8r-3c shock-std bilstein/6 deg cast/
LF: 1200 spring/5r-3c shock-std bilstein /3 deg cast/
RR: 200 spring x 16”/4r-4c-std bilstein /
LR: 200 spring x 16”/ 2r-8c@250 psi-std bilstein
Scale Numbers: 200 bite/58% rear/53% left/49% cross/standard ride heights/3050 lbs w/d/
Car has good drive/ tight on entry in both slick and tacky/ must wait on throttle till after center/ has tons of drive off and down straight away, lack some in slick just off corner.
1st thing you need to do is start at corner entry and work your way around the corner, find the issue that is causing the problem and fix that issue. If the issue is in the RF than fix the RF don’t start in the rear unless you are way out of balance with something in the rear. Let’s look at the car above and fix the problems. Remember we want to turn on the front tires not the rear and we want to be fast doing it.
Tight on entry on gas: Fixing the car not the driver, the car will not turn in the corner when turning the wheel to the left:
Right front spring in to stiff
RF shock lack low speed car control
Bite number is high
Rear % is high
Total weight in car is light
Cross weight is low
These are not in any order, just a list of what is causing the problem, so we need to study to determine where to start.
Two red flags pop up when looking at this list (RF spring and RF shock) wrong, the two items that I see will also fix some other things to. Total weight and cross weight are to low in this car and this is the start of a problem in which will make a car tight on entry. When the total weight is low and in this case it is 3050 lbs with drive that means the car is less than minimum weight with out drive(2950) and I know your thinking the lighter the faster the car but in this case it is not allowing the car to turn. When a car accelerates down the straight it transfers weight to the rear tires, so when a car is light on the front tires it will lose all it’s ability to turn fast. Most racers have a real hard time adding weight to a car because we have been taught for years that lighter is faster and it is, but there comes a point in which it becomes to light. When finding a problem try hard to identify the problem correctly so that you are fixing the problem directly and not a side effect from the problem. I see it all the time and yes less drive in this car would also help fix the issue going on but you would have to reduce rear percent or bite number to a point that you wouldn’t do to fix this. Adding weight to a car has become an everyday deal for us and one of the easy fixes in make a car better. Okay we added weight and car is still tight but better so the next step would be to look at rebound, and how we are making it in the shock. We are on a 8 rebound which sounds like a good number and the guy winning is on the same thing and it seems to be working for him just fine, but we are on a Bilstein. Don’t miss understand that, Bilstein is a great shock, it is just that a lot of there shocks lack some low speed car control in them and this is more of an 8030 than a custom-built shock. The next step will be spring rate reduction in the right front and maybe lowering the right height down some (1/4” to ½”). I am not a fan of lower ride heights in a car, this is a track fix and not an overall fix in performance if it was, we would just drop the car to the track and be done with it. We often do what is easiest and not what is best and fast race cars involve a lot of work.
In review, car is tight on entry and here is the fix for this car:
Add weight to the front of the car, work at increasing the front tire wheel weight.
Add rebound to the front of the car, low speed. Need a good shock guy.
Evaluate the current spring rate and why you are running it and maybe lower the RF rate or maybe both rates.
Evaluate your ride heights.
Decrease rear % more than just adding weight to the front of the car.
Reduce Bite or preload on left rear.
Keep doing this until car turns
This is a quick overview of fixing the car and is part of how we look at a car when trying to determine how to make it faster and this is just tuning the car and not the driver. In all forms of racing there is a team of people working together to determine the outcome of a race car, in dirt we often do it ourselves and this is very hard to do. This is why we are building a program to help you determine the problem and the fix in making a race car go fast, it is a process of determining what is best and moving the car forward as we do it. Our Team Go Fast is based on doing that, making the setup better each week instead of starting over each week. This is what we call a progressive setup and not a recurring setup. Therefore, we are developing a web site devoted to speed and the people that want to go fast and win. Being fast is about understanding what you have and how to use it, being fast is not winning every time you’re on the track but knowing you can.
So, we are back to the question what is speed, and my answer to you is this: Find the problem, Fix the problem and continue to move forward in all you do. Speed is a funny thing and in dirt racing it is always changing, sometimes faster than we can keep up. Take some time to look at what we are doing to make cars faster in our driver program, here is a short list.
Understand the parts on the car, Birdcages, rod ends, lower bushing, shocks, springs and pull bars.
Shock development that allows you to tune the car.
Springs made from the best material to have a high output.
Driving program to understand the best timing to produce speed thru the corner.
Life after racing allows you to be a better racer now.
Look at what is going on in the racing world and get a better understanding of what we need to do to be better and give us a try and see if your program doesn’t improve.