I recently attended the MPMC conference in Los Angeles and talked with many companies that manufacture components used in the racing industry. Along with learning about all of the new and innovative stuff they are producing, we talked about the economy and how it might affect the racing industry. What we came away with was a feeling that unlike other hobbies that people undertake when they’re doing well financially and have the discretionary money needed to play, racing is more of a lifestyle.
We came up with that revelation by recalling that most racers include family and extended family in their pursuit of success. The wife, kids, brothers, sisters, uncles, and even grandparents and close friends all have some role or intensely follow the progress of the team. Whereas someone who builds his own hot rod or rock climbs or skydives, the racer gathers around him and includes the people in his life who matter.
All of these people make the team a success no matter where the car runs in the pack. When times get tough and there’s less work to do, the racer will spend more time in the shop working on the car because that’s what he does. Economically, the team might stretch the dollar further by looking for bargains or putting off buying new parts for a while, but the race goes on, unlike with other hobbies.
Bikers stay home more weekends, fishermen sell the boat or let it sit in the driveway, and hunters miss hunting season when the money just isn’t there. Racers find a way to race. This is evidenced by the many parts sellers I’ve talked to who say the early year buying is moving right along despite the weakening economy. That says a lot about the dedication racers have and the commitment not only to race, but to continue to keep their individual racing families together.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the uniqueness of the racing family tradition, but it takes on a whole new meaning in these tough times we are experiencing. I really think that the whole of the country could learn a few things from racers and that is to continue to do the things you love to do. Life isn’t all about cowering down in tough times and doing nothing, it’s about flying in the face of adversity and doing what you do, despite the negatives.
This country will survive, it always has, and racing will survive not only because of the strong resolve of the participants, but because it’s more than a hobby, it’s truly a lifestyle that includes all of the qualities and strengths this country was founded upon; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (racing). I sometimes wished more people were like the racers I know.
If you have comments or questions about this or anything racing related, send them to my email address: [email protected] , or mail can be sent to Circle Track, Tech Editor,
To answer to your two questions . . . ‘Why do they restrict changes that don’t cost the racer and actually might make racing better? Someone please tell me why a racer can’t make changes to his car that only involve cutting, welding, and time?’ My answer is simple enough. To do these kind of changes, you need to have the right tools, equipment, and the right competences.
Some, or maybe lots of race teams, could do it easily. But, lots of others don’t have the right tools and talents to do it the right way. They will do a poor job that could be dangerous for their safety and their competitors. Teams that could do those changes will evolve and improve their performances at the racetrack. But teams that can’t do those changes will drop in their results. This means the car count would, and should, drop also. By the way, less competitive race cars don’t improve racing.
Respect rules during the season. Have discussion about the rules after the season. If you consider your rule change costs nothing and will help to make racing better, you should be ready to show a “Manual Guide” on how to do this change, with diagrams and measurements. And, if you can’t deal with the rule set from your racing division, maybe this is because you’re not in the right racing division.Magella BrubQubec
Thanks for your input.
If we remove innovation and experimentation from racing, then we have spec racing with cookie-cutter cars. I’m strongly opposed to that idea. I’m tired of catering to lazy racers who complain because they might have to put a little effort into the pursuit of racing knowledge and would rather stifle the efforts of more innovative teams.
Racing has always been about experimentation, craftiness, finding secret ways to make more horsepower, tuning the chassis and components so that the car goes faster through the turns. I truly believe that a vast majority of racers don’t want more rules restrictions, but less. If it doesn’t cost much, then let it happen and let the chips fall. My suggestion to racers who don’t like that is to find a spec type of racing where you will be comfortable knowing everything is equal, like Legends cars or similar types. Then everybody will be happy.
Independent Sprint Car Suspensions
Sammy Swindell ran what was called, I believe, a ‘coil car’ back in the late ’80s, early ’90s which I initially thought used a split front axle pivoting in halves much like a swing axle. I dug into my archives last evening and Swindell’s car was a true independent front end (double A-arm), utilizing push rods to inboard mounted coilovers (sound familiar?). The steering was via a shaft through the injector stack, supported by a Heim at the front end and then a flex cable to the steering rack, not all cable.
The car is in the May ’89 issue of Open Wheel magazine. The design looks good to me, except for the steering system. I sure don’t like the flex cable to the rack. But I can’t think, off hand, of a better way either. The rear used a Z-link setup with the standard rear torsion tubes replaced by a single tube with a shaft running through it and arms (the shaft may have been split) on each end to act as the rear bottom links with conventional radius rods on top of the birdcage running forward. I only saw this car once in person.
You might want to contact Swindell and get his thoughts on his experience with this “radical car” for the time. Sam speaks softly, but when he talks, it’s usually a good idea to listen. Another example of a successful independent car was the Don Edmunds car. I can’t remember if he made a Midget, Sprint, or both. Keep up the good work!Sincerely,Ralph Stevens
I found the May ’89 issue of Open Wheel for sale on eBay and purchased it. I just got it and noticed that Sammy’s was more of an equal-length upper and lower arm design with inboard coilover springs with pushrods going into rockers of a sort. If it had been a success, we would’ve seen more of this design. Looking at it in OW, it looks fairly fragile for serious Sprint Car racing.
Keep in mind, my interest is not that I think designs like these are the Holy Grail or that they are more or less competitive, it’s the fact that there are those like Bill and Sammy who look outside the box and are not afraid to experiment even with a radically different design. I celebrate the diversity of thought that exists in racing. It’s one of the things that makes racing so attractive to me as a mechanical engineer.
Speedweeks is upon us here in the Daytona area where I live and I just might have a talk with Sammy while he’s here for the Sprint Car races at Volusia. I bet he could give me some interesting insight into that car and what he discovered about it. We do know it didn’t last.
How To Find the Front Moment Center Bob Roberts
Buy a software program, measure the car, and enter the data, short and sweet.
The MC location that works best for a Dirt Late Model falls in a range from centerline to 6 inches left of centerline after the car dives and rolls. This is where most car manufacturers have determined it should be. This measuring process takes a little time, but is one of the most important processes you will undertake with setting up your car. If the MC location ain’t right, nothing seems to work for setup. Trust me, the top teams know this all too well.
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