Track Prep Your Car
by Pat Goss
Lots of folks like to take their daily driver and experience a track day now and again. Well here to give us some pointers on what you should be doing to prep it, we have Rick Robinson from American High Performance in Lorton, Virginia. Rick, welcome back to Goss’ Garage.
Rick: Thank you, Pat.
PAT GOSS: Alright, what are some of the things that we should do if we want to experience a track?
RICK ROBINSON: Well, the first to think about is safety. You don’t want all the kid’s toys floating around in the back seat while you’re out there on the track. If we have what we call an off track excursion, they become missiles flying around in the cockpit.
PAT GOSS: Good point.
RICK ROBINSON: You want a fire extinguisher in there in case that you happen to have a fire. So think about safety, and then the primary thing in road racing is suspension and brakes. Power is nice to have, suspension and brakes is what’s gonna really win the race for you and allow you to get through those turns as fast as possible. The stock suspension that most cars come with, this is an example of what was in this car. It’s a coil-over style of suspension, but it’s fixed geometry. And it’s optimized for driving around on the road, not for a track. An adjustable coil-over suspension like we put in this car allows you to adjust, not only the spring rate by compressing the spring a little further, but also raise and lower the car. Center of gravity is important to handling on the track. Get it a low as you can. But then the coil-over allows you to raise it back up for driving around on the street.
PAT GOSS: Okay, what about sway bars?
RICK ROBINSON: Sway bars help stiffen the roll rate in a car. You’ve seen cars, older cars as they go through a turn, they’re leaning way over. That’s not advantageous to grip on the tires. You wanna keep that weight distributed on all four tires as much as we can. And a big heavy roll bar like that is going to help keep the car level.
PAT GOSS: Now here we have a tower brace on this Mustang GT350. Beneficial?
RICK ROBINSON: Absolutely. Stiffness in the body of a car is important, as well. If the body’s twisting, it’s changing the geometry of the suspension. So we wanna stop that as much as we can. This ties the two strut towers together and helps stiffen the front end up a lot.
PAT GOSS: Alright, now much of this does not apply to drag racing. That’s a whole different…
RICK ROBINSON: Whole different animal. People like to come ask us if I can set up a car for both. And the answer is no. A drag race car is all about traction on the rear tires. So I need weight transfer to the rear. So a very low shock rate on the back to get it to squat. A very low extension rate on the front so I can get the front end to rise and get the weight back to the back. Weight distribution in a car is also different for drag racing again trying to get weight to the rear not optimally distributed through the car.
PAT GOSS: Rick Thank you, and if you have a question of a comment how about dropping me a line right here at MotorWeek.