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Tips and Tricks To Make a Front Wheel Drive Car Turn Left… On Dirt

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Tips and Tricks To Make a Front Wheel Drive Car Turn Left… On Dirt

Post  Media Mogle on Sat Oct 20, 2012 5:55 pm

Over the last few years front wheel drive race cars (sport compacts, hornets, bandits) have made a huge impact on the racing scene. With the GM metric cars becoming harder and harder to find, and costs of running modifieds and late models becoming more and more expensive, many drivers are starting in front wheel drive cars.

These divisions have become so competitive that it’s not uncommon to see front wheel drive cars actually run faster than the street stock and pure stock cars. We decided since these cars are coming on the scene so quickly, that it was time to offer some setup tips to make these street cars a little more race worthy.

With sanctioning bodies already allowing aftermarket parts for metric cars and other street stock type cars many people are switching to front wheel drives. The parts availability and aftermarket support is already there from the “street tuner” scene. And for some budget teams its as easy as going to a local junk yard or local auto parts store. These cars can be purchased usually for less than $1500 turn key, so from a budget side of things these cars are affordable to be competitive in.

One easy and cheap way of checking your camber by using a magnetic level.
The most common problem drivers and teams face is getting the cars that are designed for the highway, to turn left. First things teams should check is how much camber they have in both front tires. Remember you want as much negative camber in the RF and positive camber in the LF. The stock suspension usually has slim to no camber at all, and while there is no magical number for camber, there are a few ways of getting your desired camber.

Some teams choose to drill out the strut tower and oblong the stock holes and then push the strut over until they have reached the desired amount of camber. They then place washers over the holes so they don’t rip the strut through the newly enlarged holes. For some cars this just isn’t enough camber so there is another trick for a strut design. On the strut there are also two holes that bolt to the hub assembly. You can oblong the holes here also and achieve more camber. Make sure you use washers where the holes where modified so the bolts do not rip out. Adjusting the camber will help eliminate the pushing effect while on the throttle in the corners.

Does Your Local Track Allow Racing Springs

Once you have reached the desired amount of camber or the amount allowed, now teams should examine the springs under the car. Racing springs are one option, but most tracks rules only allow stock springs. One way around this is to hit the local junk yard and start looking over different cars, vans, and trucks for new springs. The goal is to get a hard right rear spring that is also taller than your left front. This is not only going to help the car turn while on the throttle, it is also going to help set the car to turn left.

One of the hardest things to do with a front wheel drive vehicle is to get it loose or free on entry. Having a stiff RR spring will help eliminate the push on entry condition that is often associated with FWD vehicles.
After you get the stiff RR spring, you want to start looking for the left rear. The left rear should also have a little stiffer spring than stock, while keeping the stock or shorter height. Don’t forget, the more you cut off a spring the stiffer it become.

For a looser setup, try a soft spring in the right front. Some teams will also try a bump stop or spring rubber in the right front to control the roll of the car. The weight needs to transfer to the drive tire to pull the car around the corner and eliminate the pushing effect you get in front wheel drive cars. The more weight you can get transferred to the drive tire the faster the car will pull you through the corner, eliminating the pushing effect.

Sway Bars

Sway bars can be one of the most important components on a dirtcar set up. First things first most front wheel drive teams do away with the front sway bar. However, you can leave the front sway bars in the car, if you do not want to pull it all apart.

Some teams remove the front sway bar on FWD vehicles and focus on the rear sway bar
Unlike most high horsepower dirtcars, these under-horsepowered front wheel drive teams see a lot of success by attaching or running the stock rear sway bar. Some teams are pre-loading the rear sway bars to keep the bar loaded all the time. This will stiffen the car on the straights and help kick the rear end around while in the corner.

Stagger is extremely important on FWD vehicles

Stagger is another key to front wheel drive racing. However some dirt tracks place a rule that only allows for teams to run a 10% stagger difference or 1 inch, and all tires must be same sizes per axle. The easiest way to adjust stagger where the rules are limited, is to take all the tires and inflate them to 35 lbs. This will be your base to measure and record the sizes of the tires. The tallest tire goes on the right rear, the smallest tire on the left rear. Of the remaining two tires, the biggest tire goes on the right front and smallest on the left front.

Hoosier Tires New “Stocker” Dirt Tire:

At the 2011 PRI show, Hoosier Tires debuted their new “Stocker” dirt tire for 4-cylinder classes. After spending most of the 2011 season gathering market information, Hoosier Engineers developed a prototype tire and tested the product against standard passenger car tires at Wythe Speedway. The tire is designed for FWD vehicles and is available now.

Stagger is another way you can get the car to turn and help limit push. If your tires do not have a large variance there are a couple ways to grow them. First one is inflate two tires to the maximum suggested pressure and leave them out in the heat for a couple of days then set them back down to 35PSI and see where they are at.

The second is try running a different sized rim. So instead of running on a 14-inch rim try running the right sides on a 15 inch rim.


What makes these classes so popular and fun is that many drivers take them extremely seriously and treat it just like the super late model teams do. While these are only just a few small tips and tricks, one of the most valuable and sometimes least relied on resource is to talk with your fellow competitors. Yes they take it serious, but for the most part they understand that everyone is out there to have fun.

With that being said, what are some of your tips for the inexperienced front wheel drive dirt racer? How have you found is the best way to make these cars turn left? Leave us a comment below with your helpful tips.

Media Mogle

Posts: 2558
Join date: 2012-01-12


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