7 Little-Known Hacks to Race Car Handling Mastery [E Book]


[E Book] "7 Little-Known Hacks - Your Pathway to Suspension Set-Up Mastery"....

7 Key Vehicle Dynamics Insights...
Drive on the Limit of Grip.  Analyse the Set-up.  The "Baseline Set-Up" you Need.

Every racer knows suspension set-up is the key to making your race car faster and easier to drive on the limit. 

But how can you learn about this stuff?

The text books on vehicle dynamics are way beyond the racers need-to-know.  (You need university level maths for starters.)   

Magazine articles, "cheat sheets", and generalized advice you get on set-up from internet web sites - as a rule, they're all particularly unhelpful.

The suppliers of springs, anti-roll bars and shocks can advise on their products.  But it stands to reason, they don't have the resources to help you with overall set-up.

No wonder the general impression most racers get is:

  1. A true understanding of handing is complicated.  
  2. You can pretty much take the piecemeal advice you get with a grain of salt. 

➡ This new e-book from Racing Car Technology, "7 Little-Known Hacks - Your Pathway to Race Car Handling Mastery" makes sense out of the mumbo jumbo.  Everything explained in a way racers understand.

It's all based on our experience and stuff we've learned setting up race cars over the last twenty years.  

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The "7 Little Known Hacks...." are 7 little-known insights into race car handling.

Taken together, they give you a unique overview that could transform your understanding of what’s happening.

Fortunately, the core theory of vehicle dynamics is not complex.  We can move from the complexity of what’s happening at the tyres to staggeringly simple explanations of how driver control and response of the race car works.

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Race car set-up is about optimizing the behavior of the vehicle in response to the driver inputs.  If we’re going to understand the physics involved, the vehicle dynamics, we need to consider the race car and the driver together.

So, we’re going to talk driver control and vehicle response in Hacks #1-3 before we get into set-up procedures in Hacks #5-7.

Here's what the "7 Little-Known Hacks...." is all about:

Hack #1 The Racing Driver's Feel for the Car Explained

The rotation motion of the race car, as depicted in the diagram, is the basis of vehicle dynamics theory and also the source of the driver's primary feel for the race car.

At slow speeds on the road, there is no appreciable rotation for the driver to feel. 

However, at racing speeds the driver can feel the rotation.  The car adopts a nose in attitude to the direction of travel (the vehicle slip angle, β), as shown in the middle diagram.

If the vehicle slip angle is building too fast, then this is instant advance warning to the driver that the car will go into a spin, unless the driver takes corrective action.

Hack #2  Driver Inputs and the Race Car Response

"Steady State" Cornering

The car in cornering is only rotating around its own axis while the driver is applying control inputs to the car in cornering – braking, turning the steering wheel, accelerating. 

When the car has taken a set in the corner, it is no longer rotating.  The body slip angle is now a fixed angle.  We say the car is in "steady state" cornering.  

Just this one insight into when the car is rotating and when it is not is profound.  It doesn't matter whether you are a highly experienced racing driver or just beginning, this knowledge is solid gold.

Hack #3  The "Neutral Steer Point"  and the "Static Margin"

The static margin is an alternative way of looking at understeer / oversteer.  The term has it's roots in aircraft engineering.  The neutral steer point (N.S.P.) behind the Centre of Gravity is positive stability.

Understeer is positive static margin, positive stability. Oversteer is negative static margin, negative stability.

If the car is being driven on the limit of grip:

+ve stability (NSP behind the CofG):  Apply steering input, and the car is stable - you can feel the rotation slowing down as the car takes a set.

= 0 (NSP and CofG same location):  With steering input, the rotation feels like it wants to keep going. 

- ve stability (NSP forward of the CofG): The car is unstable. Any input causes a degree of rotation that has to be corrected.

The "Balance Trade-Off"  *Key Concept*

V8 Supercars Champion, Scott McLaughlin, said after his first test in the new Mustang:  “You have to have a bit more give and take; so I go ‘give me bit more turn’ but then I get loose in the rear.  So, then I go ‘I’ll give you some of that turn back and you give me some of that rear back.’  So,
it’s a bit of a trade - off.”  Auto Action Issue #1755

It’s clear the driver’s task in optimizing the speed and path of the vehicle comes down to this balance thing.  Yes, it’s up to the driver to find the best way through the corner.  But ultimately, it’s all about this finely nuanced seat of the pants feeling of the rotation that’s an integral part of the driver knowing where the limit of grip is.

Hack #4:  Classical Vehicle Dynamics Was Developed by Flight Dynamics Engineers in the 1950's

A little history to put some context around the ideas of race car stability and control.

The theories of classical vehicle dynamics were first proposed by Bill Milliken and his flight research organisation, CAL in the 1950s.  In 1995, he co-authored the race engineers/designers bible. "Race Car Vehicle Dynamics".

Hack #5  Roll Stiffness Distribution - the Suspension Tuner's Primary Tool for Set-Up

Roll stiffness distribution, front roll stiffness vs rear roll stiffness, determines the weight transfer distribution front vs rear, and therefore the balance of the car for understeer / oversteer.

Many racers do not understand the detail of this, and how crucial it is.  If you want to adjust your race car for best mechanical balance, you need to know this.  Period.

Hack #6  Get a Baseline Set-Up with the Racing Car Technology Weight Transfer Worksheet™

In this Hack, we show you some screen shots indicating the input data required and the output results you get with the Weight Transfer Worksheet™ (WTW).  

This is our own proprietary spreadsheet we've developed over many years and hundreds of set-ups.

Based on the WTW results, you decide on the springs, anti-roll bars, roll centre heights etc that you'll start with as your baseline set-up .

For most of the clients we work with directly, we've achieved seconds improvement in lap time and many of our training course participants get similar results.

Hack #7  Test at the Track to Optimize Performance

We need to test to see if the car is in the set up window, as indicated by our set-up in the Weight Transfer Worksheet™.  And if not, why not. 

If everything works out to plan, then the car can be final adjusted for best balance on the anti-roll bars.

Most racers don't test because they're unsure what to do.  Get your head around the first 6 Hacks, and your test day will be a breeze.  The WTW can be the basis for continuing improvement as you develop your race car.

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I’m hoping to spark your curiosity.  To examine and ponder further how race car response vs stability methodology could help with your driving performance and guide you with improving your race car set-up - ie look at all the possibilities that can be unlocked.

7 Little-Known Hacks - Your Pathway to Race Car Handling Mastery

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