It’s only a secret if you don’t know it. For the betterment of our series and to help level the playing field let me share some of what I’ve learned over the years.  Some of you know all of this (and more) but you weren’t born knowing it, you learned it somewhere . . .


Tire Pressures

In the ISS we do require the same size front tires on our cars and that’s an exact match on all of the numbers (ie: 205 = 205, 60 = 60, 15 = 15).  On the rear, we allow tire “stagger” meaning different sizes.  As long as the tires themselves are legal tires by the ISS rules you can mix it up as much as possible.  If it helps, you can use a 215/70R15 on the RR and a 155/60R13 on the LR.  Why would you do something like that?  The sort answer is that the taller RR will push Diagonally through the chassis and aid the LF in traction.  Similarly, the smaller LR will reduce the load on the overworked RF. 


Bump Stop

Same idea as modern “Late Model Racing” you can use the rubber/urethane factory shock/strut limiters to firm up the RR.  In stock form they are supposed to cushion the car on bumps when the suspension bottoms all the way out on potholes, etc.  A last minute “cushion” before you go metal to metal and blow out your dampener (shock/strut).  Stacking those rubbers on the RR increases the spring rate there to the very firm rate of the rubbers.  The useful purpose once again is to transfer weight to the LF as the car tries to roll over mid-corner.


Spring Rubber

New in 2019, only one of these simple inserts is allowed.  It’s used to stiffen the corner of the car its inserted in.  Easily added or removed at the races with a break.  I’d plan it for my LF to tighten or loosen.  In the LF it would help that tire “join the party”, too loose - take it out.  Add it at the break if you were too tight and started without it.


Sway Bars

Also referred to an anti sway bar or stabilizer bar.  It’s purpose is to help keep the car flat when you corner, rather than rolling over until the passenger door scrapes the track.  Unfortunately, in our FWD class, the front bar does that by trying to lift the LF tire off of the ground.  Not what we are looking for, we need as much lep from the LF as possible so either disconnect it or find the lightest bar (smallest diameter) available for your make and model.  HOWEVER without a functioning Rear Bar or good bump stop in the RR you may roll way over in the turns so obviously leave the Rear Bar in place and maybe even search out the largest one for your model car. 


Push

Technically called “Understeer”.  No matter how hard you try turning the wheel the car doesn’t turn as sharp as your steering input would normally indicate.  Im my simplified way of explaining things, your RF tire is crying out “A LITTLE HELP OVER HERE - LIKE BEFORE I BLOW!”  That is why we to the tricks on the RR to push back to the LF and provide that help.  You’ll never get them equal, but any and all help is appreciated!  The other factor also is how much traction you have in the rear, specifically the RR.  If that’s a beautiful tire with perfect camber it can resist the front’s efforts to turn and keep the car going straight (pushing!).


Loose

Technically is called Oversteer as the little bit of steering input turns the car so sharply you suddenly have to counter steer and catch it.  It’s all about balance, tweaking the car for the perfect level of looseness (FWD you need a little loose) to make it easy to drive and get the most out of your 3 tires all race long!  On a muddy dirt track, a little extra loose sure helps in the early going when everyone is pushing and plowing in the turns.  Later in the race you’ll be counter steering a bit but maybe you got an early race advantage?


Rear Steer

That’s the little tow adjustment you make in the rear with factory settings or shims of some sort, but the idea is to point the RR towards the wall.  How much?  Varies by driving style so start small BUT if the guy behind you can read the number on your door on the straightaway it’s TOO MUCH.  Truthfully, just a little is best and it’s only because we turn 1 direction.  If the rear takes total control you won’t be able to hold the bottom of the track in the turns and you won’t get enough push back through the chassis to the LF.


Toe

Quite simply are the front tires (or rears for that matter) both pointed in the exact same direction?  Truthfully they aren’t supposed to be exactly.  Factory setting would actually be between zero and may 1/16” inward.  In circle track cars we actually tow them out, meaning the width across the front side tire tread would measure more than the width across the back side tread.  If you are wondering why it’s so that in the middle of the corner when our RF is crying out for help the LF is actually turning sharper (aided by that extra toe out) and helping all it can.  On tracks with long straightaways too much toe will fight a bit so generally I would just be 1/16” to 1/8” out.  On a track that races like a circle I’ve heard numbers as high as 3/16” to 1/4”.  Toe is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT and EASY to set.  When I race weekly I would always check it after my heat races (ESPECIALLY) if I so much as rubbed tires with someone. 


Keeping Brakes in your Asphalt Car!

It’s easy to overheat them!  Don’t sit with your foot on the pedal during a red.  Clamping the pads to a red hot rotor is a great way to bring the heat back to the calipers!  The physics behind brakes is simple - the conversion of Kinetic Energy (you barreling down the track) into Heat (by friction of course).  You need the heat to dissipate to do it lap after lap.  When we go red there is no air flow so the fluid begins to boil!  I try to coast the last 2 feet to a stop (or use the ebrake briefly).  Once under red, I turn my steering wheel back/forth 6, 8 or maybe 10 times.  I do that to see if any slop in the front wheel bearing might push the pads a little bit away from my crazy hot rotors.  Then after 20-30 seconds I slowly creep the car backwards 2-3 feet to swap out the hottest part of the rotor with a spot that has been in the open air.  Does it help?  HaHa, I don’t have a clue, just one of my “rituals”.  If you really want help, put Good and Properly Adjusted Back Brakes in your car to share the stopping duties.  Some drivers even pump the brakes a bit before going green to work some fluid exchange.  Not sure how that works with just one shared line in and out, but Ihear of it.  I know I do it right awa on Green to see what to expect in the first corner and if they are not there I stay doind it as long as it takes.  I had a ZX2 Escort that got the fluid so damn hot I would lose the hydraulic clutch (shared reservoir like most new stuff) for the restart and would have to kill the motor, jam it in 1st and start the car chugging away in gear with the starter and then rev match a 2nd gear shift!  If you can get your bleeders loose FLUSH your fluid and REPLACE it with DOT4.  Fresh fluid shouldn’t have any moisture (EVILL) and 4 has a higher boiling point than 3 (most maufacturer stock fluid was DOT3).  Final tip is to GET OFF THE PEDAL (all the way off - don’t rest your foot - or if you do put a BIG return Spring on) as quickly as you can and roll through the corner, converting straight line travel to cornerning forces will further scrub speed from the car.



Tire Shaving

Brand new tires don’t work that well, at least not on the right front.  Tread that is full depth wiggles around a lot under heavy loading (cornering!)  Eventually, it “chunks out” and the car’s handling really goes away.  When you are setting up for your next race, choose a right front that is wore down to the wear bars or further.  That will be a longlasting (and fast) tire.  Fast guys sometimes find the perfect tire in the junkyard, but usually they just buy a brand new Sumitomo HTR 200 and shave 2/3rds of the tread off before they even put it on the car.  If you are shopping used tires, look for the lowest “treadwear” number you can find.  A long-lasting tire (high number 500-600) is made of hard rubber and won’t be real fast.  A soft tire (like a Sumitomo) will have a treadwear rating closer to 300. 



Camber

The reason I am so quick to allow camber in my series is that it saves the front tire.  Some series/tracks won’t even allow a quarter inch.  I can’t run 100 laps without junking out a right front tire, let alone 200-300.  Now I know there are other ways around the tire wear, like slowing down (never happens) or rear steer, but camber just makes sense.  It put’s all the rubber down at once when you need it most.  The rules allow up to 1 inch.  GET EVERY BIT OF IT! Keep the right front tire on the car! 


Some cars are more easily adjustable than others.  GM makes an ecentric bolt kit. NAPA sells expensive ball joints for Hondas.  Escorts are the easiest to camber up (imho).   Often, camber involves the use of a die grinder to oval out some holes.  Sometimes we have to tack weld “adjusted” pieces in place to hold them there.