This past week end I attended the Toys for Tots race at Thunder Alley in California. The track has a lot of elevation change, big jumps, and a bumpy curved sweeper of a straight. The track is run wet, and during the day it dries a bit during some of the heats. The surface is soft when wet, and a bit loamy, so it gets really bumpy. The bumps at this race were really sharp and edgy, and cars were bouncing around.
Cody King TQed with his new Serpent, Colin Herzig was 2nd, and I was 3rd. In the first round my engine was too rich and I was a bit slow. My car felt good, I was just a bit slow, about 0.5s a lap. In the 2nd round I ran soft impacts instead of the S gridirons I ran in the first round, and they felt too edgy. I made a mistake early on and knew I wasn’t going to improve my time. I knew that come the main I would be strong, because my car was very good.
In the main the start was crazy intense. There was a lot of crashing, awesome passing, and some aggressive paint rubbing. After the first few laps of ups and downs I ended up in about 7th place, and set about catching the leaders. At about the halfway point I caught and passed King, who later had some problems and dropped back, as Herzig continued to lead. With about 6 minutes to go I caught and passed Herzig too, and managed to win the main. It was a great main for me.
1st Joseph Quagraine JQRacing
2nd Colin Herzig HBRacing
3rd Don Vinkemulder TLR
Setup & Driving
I made a few key changes throughout the day, which made my car absolutely fantastic for the 20 minute main at night. Below you can read about all the changes I made.
You can find my full Thunder Alley Setup here.
I went one step thinner on shock oil than what I had at Fall Brawl, so 30wt front 27.5wt rear. (400/350cst). Daytime the temperature was about 20deg (70), but at night for the main it dropped to a bit below 15 (60). The shock oil felt a bit thick, but I kept the same oil, because I wanted the car to skip over the bumps instead of use a lot of suspension travel and try to follow them going in and out of them. It worked out perfectly! I could just power over the bumps.
I ran my grey springs as I always do on loose to medium traction bumpy tracks.
I reduced anti squat from 2 degrees to 1 degree, so 0-0 pills in the C and D blocks.
I raised the front ride height, normally I run 26-27 front, and 27 rear. Now I ran 28 front, and kept 27 rear. I wanted the front to clear the bumps better. I also ran a lot of droop front and rear.
I also added a bit of camber to the rear. Normally I run very little, now I added some more to make the rear slide over the bumps better.
I ran a yellow wing, so I can actually see my car at night. I suck at night!
I moved the rear hub 1 step back to the middle, so 2 shims in front, and two shims behind the rear hub. This lengthens the wheelbase, which helps with bump handling, and also reduces the rear driveshaft angle, which softens the suspension on power, and further improves bump handling. Finally, I raised the rear hub 2mm, so instead of using the most common, insert with the hole right at the top, lowering the hub in the arm as much as possible, I used the insert with the hole in the middle. This makes the suspension act softer which again helps with bump handling, and also reduces sidebite, so the car has less of a tendency to feel edgy and catch bumps. I also ran the 1 degree toe in in the hub insert, as the middle insert does reduce traction a bit. I wanted to make sure my car would be easy to drive and place exactly where I wanted, as the track can be slick in places at night.
In the main I focused on finding the fast and safe lines around the track, which for example included going wide on the front straight and keeping the throttle pinned all the way up the hill, then maintaining partial throttle round the 90 degree corner at the top. On power the BLACK Edition stays flat on the track and it greatly reduces the chances of a crash, so stay on power. I also drove a tight line in the middle of the track, and avoided some of the big bumps. Finally, I tried to straighten up and power straight over the bumpy sections, because turning over bumps can cause crashes. Basically, avoid bumps where I could, drive straight over bumps I couldn’t avoid, and drive on power as much as possible. That was my focus, and it worked.