How To Fix A Tight Asphalt Race Car – I have received emails telling me that some readers do not fully understand how to put all the information we present into a package that will help them improve their car and give them a chance to win. I understand that all of this can be a bit confusing if you don’t know the end goals.
We featured your information in the July ’09 issue and decided to present it again with a new title and approach. If you have read this before, read it again and try to understand that everything we do is to make the tires happy. If you haven’t seen this before, I can tell you that what is presented here is some of the most important and meaningful information you will ever receive.
How To Fix A Tight Asphalt Race Car
Once we begin to understand how different settings and procedures affect the amount of traction in our race cars, we can better prepare the car for racing. What we need is traction control, not electronic, but an approach to our car design and tuning that will increase traction. The following is an attempt to help you understand the most fundamental influences that affect the performance of any racing car and limit the speed at which it will go through corners. Knowing this will help you build more traction.
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With more traction, we can brake harder, go through corners faster, and accelerate faster and faster out of turns. Everything we do with race car tuning, external engine preparation, aerodynamic tuning and powertrain technology is all about trying to develop more pulling power.
Traction-enhancing technology has grown in recent times. We have collectively learned what the tires want and to some extent how to give them a chance to maintain as much grip with the race surface as the laws of physics allow. Let’s face it, there are limits to everything in this physical world, so let’s go on a quest to find the ultimate limit. We try to learn to recognize when we reach the limit so we can stop looking so we don’t go back.
The principle of stopping when you are ahead is true in developing a good handling package and remains true when developing the best traction package. Know when you’ve gone far enough. The 99 percent rule applies here. If you have the fastest car in the field, every change you make has a 99 percent chance of slowing you down.
The word package is important because we can use several different approaches at the same time to improve traction. They rarely mix with each other and each will add a little to the package. Together, they can contribute to a significant improvement in available traction while under power.
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Most racing tech writers have said many times before that everything we do in terms of chassis tuning comes down to making the tires work harder. Tires are the final connection between the car and the racing surface. Far more racers are disqualified for illegal tires than for any other injury. This is because the improvement in grip is the biggest gain in performance.
The concept of tire performance is always at the forefront when trying to understand ways to improve the overall performance of our race car. It’s back at the top of the list when it comes to traction. Listed here are seven areas of influence that directly affect the amount of traction a set of dirt or asphalt tires will develop:
Increasing the amount of vertical load (weight) on the tire increases traction, but in a non-linear fashion. This means that when we increase the load on the tire, it will gain traction, but not in exact multiples. If a tire has “X” traction with 400 pounds on it, the traction will be less than double when we apply an 800 pound load. The amount of traction will be less than 2 times Xs.
The size and cross-sectional loading of the contact patch helps determine how much grip we will have for a particular tire. An additional effect related to contact surface and traction includes grooves and sipes with dirty tires, which will be discussed later.
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Lowering the air pressure will usually increase the size of the tire’s patch which would seem to improve traction, but excessively low or high pressures can reduce the load on the tire components so that the overall load on the tire is reduced and you end up with less . Traction available for this tire. For each tire there is an optimal operating air pressure that will offer maximum contact patch area and equal load across the width of the patch.
The slope also affects the size and cross-sectional loading of the contact surface. The correct camber angle compensates for the deflection of the sidewalls of the tire as the lateral force is applied when we turn the car. More or less camber than would be ideal means that one side of the tire will bear more load than the other and this also reduces traction.
The chemistry of the rubber compound helps determine how much grip is available to the tires. A softer tire will provide more traction, but the maximum traction that can be used over a long period of time is related to how the tire can withstand heat and wear.
A tire that is a little harder can sometimes grip better and be faster at the end of a race when the tires have built up a lot of heat and are well worn after a few laps. The way a softer tire grips better is the way it adapts to the irregularities of the track surface. A stiffer tire will go over small ruts and ruts in asphalt or dirt, while a tire with more flexibility will fill in those areas to make more of the contact surface that rides on the track.
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There is a fine line between soft enough to fill gaps and too soft and causing the tire to peel off and cause excessive wear. Racing tire companies are constantly experimenting with compounds to make the tires stick better while maintaining a decent life.
The amount of traction available from a tire can actually be increased by simply increasing its angle of attack relative to the direction of the car, but only up to a point. We can turn the wheel straight ahead and with each degree of deviation from the direction of travel, the traction in the tire increases.
There is a point we reach where the boost is reduced and we approach the limit of the angle of attack the tire can handle. When this point is reached, overshooting causes a sudden loss of grip and traction drops dramatically. The tire will then slide on the surface of the track. This principle applies to all four of our tires, whether front or rear. We will give more on this topic later.
We’ve talked a lot about trying to achieve balance in your setup, but what exactly does that mean? Balance in a dynamic sense is when you have both ends of the car together and trying to do the same thing. In a cornering situation, doing the same thing comes down to wanting to roll in the same corner. Everything a suspension system affects boils down to a simple but comprehensive end result, the roll angle the system is trying to finish.
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It is precisely the matching of the wheels of the front and rear suspension that causes the proper load transfer during a curve. What we get from this camber angle matching is the best load of all the tires in the combination that will give the most traction, period. Here’s why.
An opposing pair of tires (ties on the same axle, at the same end of the car) will develop maximum traction when equally loaded. It is a generally true statement that has been made many times in the past in countless publications. A car that is not as fast as others, but neutral in handling, probably does not have a dynamically balanced setup where both ends work together.
An example of this is when the rear suspension tries to roll at a greater angle than the front. The excess load will be transferred from the left front to the right front, causing uneven loading on the front tires and therefore less traction.
The car would be tight in this scenario, but to keep it neutral in handling, we reduce the cross weight, which relieves the LR and RF, making both ends less equally loaded and therefore resulting in less drag for both ends. The car will be neutral in handling, but slower in turns.
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The shape of a track for dirt and asphalt can affect available traction in several different ways. We need to know a little
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