“Set Up” the Race Car – Why?
You would never think of taking a rear end setup from an Indy car, a front end
setup from a Winston Cup car, and a weight distribution setup from a Formula 1
car as your settings in your short track asphalt racer - but racers seem to do
just that! When many racers “dial in” a setup in their race cars, they go
through the motions without really understanding why they are doing what they
The goal of any race car setup, regardless of the track type or track surface,
is to keep all four tire contact patches firmly anchored to the ground at all
times. Obviously, this is a good theory, but in practice it is impossible. We
must make compromises in design, chassis adjustment and driving style to get as
close as we can to this goal. All chassis components must work together to meet
the goal of keeping all four tires in firm contact with the track. This means
that each tire should have equal weight exerted on it in the turn so that the
car can go fast through the corner.
Adjustment to one component will cause a change in another component. If there
is a problem in one corner of the car, the “fix” for that problem may cause a
problem somewhere else - and you spend race day chasing these problems all over
the car. In the end, you never cure the handling problems that you have, and you
leave the track frustrated.
For example, let's say that you set up your car at the shop to your baseline
specifications, but at the track you hear that the track champion runs a
different stagger than your normal baseline. You decide that instead of running
your “normal” stagger, a change in rear stagger to match the “champ’s” stagger
numbers is what is needed. A change that drastic will invalidate all the other
settings in the chassis, and you will be left wondering why you are not in the
Chassis setup is a formula that you use on your car at a particular track under
particular conditions, coupled with your own driving style. Mixing in other
settings is a mistake. Your baseline setup formula may be changed in small
increments, with one change at a time, depending on track and weather
conditions. Drive the car consistently, then analyze what the car is doing. Make
small changes, one at a time, and record the results. Resist making wholesale
changes on the fly just before the race. If the car isn’t working well in
practice, you are better off to pack it up, go home and work on running well
next weekend than to risk a crash – or worse.
Mike Loescher is the owner and
chief instructor at FinishLine Racing School in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Mike holds Chassis Seminars throughout the year - all around the USA & Canada.
View our class schedule or call
to schedule a private setup date.
CLICK HERE for class pricing
Contact us for more info