What’s wrong with taking the car out and seeing what it can do?
Problem is, you probably won’t learn anything. If it’s fast or slow, you won’t know why. You won’t know how to address any of the handling issues you experience with the car.
Most times, testing the car straight off is sure to disappoint.
Much better to do your homework first. Just like James has done, and delivered such staggering results last weekend.
In the 60's and 70s, we had no idea. We'd give the car a wheel alignment and that's it. We'd drive the car as it was given to us by the factory or previous owner.
Today it is very, very different. We can engineer the changes to the car, and have the performance unfold before our eyes. I can't tell you how stark the difference is, in my experience.
One thing hasn't changed however:
Never expect the previous owner, (or the factory, if it’s a new car) to have set the car up for you. It can take a few days labour to do it properly. There’s nothing in it for them to do it.
You need to do the set-up yourself. (Or your team/race car preparation workshop need to do it).
I’d say, the basics. Top of the list? Allow for reasonable suspension travel and proper bump stop positioning.
Suspension geometry wise, your static settings yes, but particularly your “Bump Steer”.
If bump steer could be wrong (and that’s any race car with adjustable suspension), I would make that a screaming priority – see this website in the menu at the top of the page / Course Offers / “Bump Steer Made Easy.”
That’s balance for understeer/oversteer.
More power and better grip are great, but power and grip are zilch without good balance.
You need to choose springs and anti-roll bars, that give you close to a good balance.
Then you need adjustment for balance over a reasonable range, such that when you make an adjustment at the track, you immediately feel the change.
(99% of the time, you’ll do it via adjustable anti-roll bars for independent suspension cars, and anti-roll bars plus roll centre height for live rear axle cars.)
When you get to doing these adjustments to the balance of your car, you'll be in for a treat. Many long-time racers find it a revelation when doing it for the first time.
To choose your springs and anti-roll bars, we recommend you do the numbers in our Racing Car Technology Weight Transfer Worksheet™. All the details are in our course “Get More Grip and Better Balance”. Check it out here:
If you had any queries in relation to the course, please email me:
The "7 Hacks..." are seven little known insights into race car handling. A unique overview of handling that could transform your understanding of what’s required to do your own suspension set-up.
We take a deep dive into how race car handling actually works.