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Tools That Tame the Track
Using sound application of theory combined with a myriad of technological tools, NHRA teams constantly focus on ways to have their race cars run at the razor’s edge that separates success from failure. But winning always calls for the right tools …
The Black Box
The race car timing box is probably the single most critical tool used on a modern day Funny Car. It’s not uncommon for DSR crew chief Dickie Venables to delve deep into this box of technology for a final massage or a last chance fine-tune before a run.
DSR track specialist Dave Fletcher uses a commercial grade infrared track gun to record temperatures and a track-meter, which is a custom device pushed down on the track to obtain measurements of resistance in foot pounds of torque. Both are used because as track temps go up or down, so does traction.
A cellphone can also be an important tool. Fletcher stays in constant contact by texting with all DSR crew chiefs to relay the latest track condition data. This constant info stream helps teams make fluid adjustments to things such as: engine tune-ups, tire pressure and clutch timing.
Slip & Grip
“The biggest challenge we face is the application of clutch and tires to the race track,” says Venables. “We want the clutch to slip just right, so all the way down the track we are keeping the rear slick on the verge of spinning the whole time. That’s always an elusive target, one we are all constantly in search of.”
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) uses sophisticated weather stations within their pit complexes to feed information into the team’s race car trailer “war room” every four minutes. Barometric pressure, airborne water grain and ambient air temperature changes all play very important parts when setting a power target (and tune-up) for an engine.