So, you just got a new sprint car and you’re going to the track for the first time. You’ve been driving a winged 410 or 360 up until now, which is how you learned that driving a sprint car is fun. Now it’s time to see if this experience can carry over to one of the fiercest forms of short-track racing on earth! But when you get there, something feels wrong; your wheels feel like they’re pointed outwards when the car accelerates in corners. And before long, you find yourself in somebody else’s tire tracks – and might even end up in somebody else’s rear bumper (or worse).
Well, my friend: welcome to getting forward bite! Once you learn how to drive your car in a straight line, you’ll find that most of the work is actually done for you in the corners.
How to get it back once you’ve lost it
While the topic of forward bite could be an entire article unto itself, this one will focus on how to get it back once you’ve lost it. You have three solutions – two are quick and temporary, while one is permanent but requires some disassembly. The two quick-fixes are where to place your seat and what angle your rear suspension is set at. If you’re seated too far behind the axle centerline or if your car has any degree of panhard bar or arm in the rear suspension setup, shifting forward in these areas can help put the wheels right where they need to be.
The most effective solution is to be sure you’re correctly seated in the car, and then find out if your car has a lot of anti-squat built into it. Anti-squat is what keeps your rear end planted in the corner when you’re on the gas; without enough of it, that forward bite will disappear faster than an ice cream headache in Death Valley. If this sounds like your problem, then you need to get out there and measure how much anti-squat your car has – or more accurately, how much anti-squat doesn’t exist when you apply throttle. This would be done by measuring front axle height (front ride height) at speed with no weight on the rear axles (no fuel, no water in the tank, and no or little air in your wing). You’ll want to run around the track at speed doing this until you have enough data points to do some math with.
Once you have all of that information compiled, you can then decide how much more anti-squat you need – whether that comes from a rear bar or just raising or lowering your rear ride height.
There are other solutions for getting forward bite on a sprint car, but these are the quickest and most effective ones. I’ll detail them one by one in upcoming articles so you know which method works best for what circumstances. Until then, get out there at practice and start eliminating those variables!