Just like so many facets of performance, a combo that works great on one car may not necessarily work as well on another. The key to winning traction is evaluating your combo, making minor adjustments when testing your car, then utilizing that info for improvements. What you may not realize is that getting your car to hook well isn't solely based on the rear suspension. In addition to the sticky rubber out back, you have to set the shocks, adjust the pinion angle, match the springs, and get it all to work in unison with the front suspension, frame, rollcage, engine, and transmission. Just got a little more complicated, didn't it? Matter of fact, the traction system you opt for will depend on the intended use of your ride, the engine's power curve, and what your pockets will allow.
The types of rear suspension systems in use on most production Chevrolet cars include two leaf springs, two coil springs with a four-link system, and two coil springs with a two-link system, a Panhard bar, and a torque arm. All Chevelles and G-body cars ('64-88) used the standard four-link system; '62-78 Novas and '67-81 Camaros used the two rear leaf-spring system; and third- and fourth-gen Camaros used the two lower control arms, a Panhard bar, and a torque arm.
This month, not only did we spend a considerable amount of time learning what it takes to obtain those killer short times and quick e.t.'s, but we were lucky enough to hold prisoner some of the premier chassis gurus at BMR Fabrication, Calvert Racing, Hickok Racecars, and PMR Racing, who were nice enough to divulge their secrets. They helped us put together this general overview of what's available, what will and won't work, and the stepping stone to bettering your own track times.
When permitted, high-horsepower...
When permitted, high-horsepower cars will use wheelie bars to counteract the front-end lift with leverage. This also helps plant the tires for added traction.
Checking tire pressure frequently...
Checking tire pressure frequently is important in chassis tuning. If you lower your tire pressure and the e.t. seems to respond favorably, it means the tire wants a bigger hit. Instead of removing more air pressure and running the risk of increased sidewall wrinkle, raise your launch rpm to hit the tire harder. Conventional tire-pressure gauges show little definition at low pressures, so it's wise to invest in a gauge specifically designed to read at low pressures.