David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/4/20 10:38 a.m.

Soon we're going to the track with a pro race team. They offered to be an open book to our video department. We have a list of topics we'd like to cover but figured we'd also open it to the entire group.

So, here's the big question: If you could tag along with a pro team during a day at the track, what would you want to learn?

Thanks. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/4/20 10:48 a.m.

How pro? There are different levels of pro.

Car prep procedures - how is it documented? How is the team organized?

Testing regimen and setup procedures.

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
2/4/20 10:49 a.m.

How they work through their data & driver debriefs and how they prioritize the needed changes identified in their debriefs.

how's that for a start?

As an aside I'd love to see how the catalog their set up notes.

Hasbro
Hasbro SuperDork
2/4/20 10:50 a.m.

I'd like to see and hear how they tweak the suspension during the race.

slowbird
slowbird Dork
2/4/20 10:52 a.m.

I wanna know how much of an adjustment makes the difference between 1st and 10th place. How many turns of the adjustable shock? How much wing angle? What are the most common things they tweak between practice runs to get the handling dialed in?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/4/20 10:55 a.m.

About "how many turns of the adjustable shock" - that is not a useful piece of info without knowing more about the shocks. You can set them up for a wide, coarse adjustment or a narrow, fine adjustment. "three clicks" can have a massive difference or a very small one. AoA, similar.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/4/20 11:04 a.m.

I think I'd be most interested in how they run the weekend, how the store/interpret telemetry, etc. 

slowbird
slowbird Dork
2/4/20 11:06 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

About "how many turns of the adjustable shock" - that is not a useful piece of info without knowing more about the shocks. You can set them up for a wide, coarse adjustment or a narrow, fine adjustment. "three clicks" can have a massive difference or a very small one. AoA, similar.

Fair enough laugh how about "How big of an adjustment do they make when they're way off and need to get in the ballpark?"

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/4/20 11:14 a.m.

How to disassemble,  rebuild, and reassemble a 10,000+ hp Top Fuel hemi in under an hour. That's is simply magic.

Purple Frog
Purple Frog New Reader
2/4/20 11:16 a.m.

I've worked on a few pro teams in IMSA endurance racing.

There is much to be learned from the great teams.  Organization.  Assignment of duties.  Training.  Drills. Radio etiquette. Preparation.

Just the setup of the pits. e.g.  If there is a remote reason that  six guys may need a certain tool at any given instant, then seven of those tools are hanging on the wall.  One team, if there was a certain combination of rachets, extensions, and sockets needed to get to a certain fastener, then that combination was welded together and hanging on the wall. No time to fiddle around making it up during pit stop. Spare air guns inside the wall.

I remember 4 sets of tires being ready in the pits.  Set 1, matching the same set that is on the car on the track. pressures set etc.  Set 2, the next set to go on.  Set 3, a different compound.  Set 4, rains.   All set to pressures determined by the engineer.  When the car pits and tires are taken off, temps and pressures are relayed to the engineer.   Fuel usage is measured each pit.

One team had a policy not to reuse any important fastener, except in emergencies.

The car set up is heavily documented.  So the Engineer says to turn two clicks on the right front spring, he knows how much weight is being added.  On one team, if a change was made to a suspension piece on the car, then a guy in the back of the pits made the same change to the spare part on the wall.

To make it even crazier, on most the teams i was on, we were running two cars.  Just saying.

Its all worth it when you are standing with the rest of the crew in victory lane at the Daytona 24hr.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
2/4/20 11:33 a.m.

Logistics. I'd like to know how these big teams decide on what to bring to a track, who to bring to a track, what takes precedence, what can be left behind, how many people, food/beverages, etc. 

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
2/4/20 11:44 a.m.
Purple Frog said:

 

There is much to be learned from the great teams.  Organization.  Assignment of duties.  Training.  Drills. Radio etiquette. Preparation.

 

So after I say "Lima Charlie" I don't make my own radio static sound? 

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa Reader
2/4/20 11:51 a.m.

How often do they revisit optimizing everything outside the racecar?

 

Edit: and how much individual freedom does each member get for their station?

Purple Frog
Purple Frog New Reader
2/4/20 1:15 p.m.

Freedom.  On the big teams I would say there is not much.  Sometimes sponsorships or whatever determine even what color socks you are wearing and what make gloves and shoes.

If the engineer calls for 22# in the right front tire, you can't think to yourself that you are smarter than her and put in 23#.

Some shocks have as many as 24 clicks in both rebound and bump.

Many on the team may no speak on the radio unless spoken to directly.  In some cases some people are given "listen only" headsets.

If you see something say something.  Don't do anything outside your task without asking.

One year I had the job on thursday to arrange the decals inside the cockpit that the "in car" camera would see.  It was amazing how many layers of approval were required.   LOL.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
2/4/20 1:30 p.m.

I would like to learn how I can contribute.  

Spend the day absorbing as much as I can, see if there's an area where I can contribute, and go from there.

If not, just enjoy myself, and absorb as much as I possibly can from all aspects I see.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/4/20 1:40 p.m.
Appleseed said:

How to disassemble,  rebuild, and reassemble a 10,000+ hp Top Fuel hemi in under an hour. That's is simply magic.

Probably already a ton of videos on YouTube for that one. 

noddaz
noddaz SuperDork
2/4/20 5:12 p.m.

Briefly?  Everything.  But I understand that can't happen.  So keep your cameras on.  Record.  Sort it out later.

This could be big!

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
2/4/20 6:11 p.m.

I'd like to listen to the radio, and driver debrief during practice.  A friend sat in the stands at Martinsville, I think, and watched Mark Martin practice his Cup car.  He would accelerate out of the pits, run one angry lap, then come back in while telling the crew chief whether it was better or worse, and what each corner of the car was doing.  It was purely amazing to a guy who needed 30 laps to figure out whether the car had a push or not...

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf Reader
2/4/20 6:51 p.m.

Some good answers so far several got me wondering further. Knowing the series would help since I’m a road race guy my questions may be more geared toward that. Here are my want to knows.

 

  1. Once the car is built how do they document its initial set up (power train and suspension especially)?
  2. Is a car’s data all now on computer or do they keep a notebook (or written backup) too?
  3. How do they document a 12 or 24 hour race?
  4. Can I have copies (blank of course) of their set up, check sheets and tracking documentation?
  5. Are there any non-obvious questions you ask during driver debriefs or during a race?
  6. What telemetry / data do you collect?
  7. How do you determine what aspects of a car will be addressed during a test day?

There are probably more

Purple Frog
Purple Frog New Reader
2/4/20 7:08 p.m.

Test days can be harder on the crew than a race.  Usually, in a race the car is out there a while.  Test days can be every 2 to 4 laps.

The hardest drill is when you rent a wind tunnel or shaker rig.  Super intense.  You try to rehearse the changes ahead.  There is a script.  It's costing a bundle per hour, and you only have so much time.   You don't pee, you don't eat, you hardly breathe.  :)

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/4/20 7:53 p.m.
z31maniac said:
Appleseed said:

How to disassemble,  rebuild, and reassemble a 10,000+ hp Top Fuel hemi in under an hour. That's is simply magic.

Probably already a ton of videos on YouTube for that one. 

See it and doing it are radically different. 

 

If I had to ask a team questions not often or not able to asked, I'd ask an Unlimited Air Race team about aero. Did they test the modifications against others on the same airframe or did they use conventional wisdom and use what worked before?  1 or 2 mph per given modification add up.Boundary layer control, reshaped airfoils, etc... I want it all.

vwcorvette
vwcorvette UltraDork
2/4/20 7:59 p.m.

I struggle with both an unsettled stomach and occasional motion sickness depending on the transitions and g forces experienced. How do the racers deal with these sorts of things? How much does diet and nutrition at the track help or hurt performance (human performance obvi).

 

j_tso
j_tso Reader
2/4/20 8:17 p.m.

How much observation is done of the other teams, like what kind of data is tracked?

The Keating story in the last issue recounting their strategy of staying ahead during full course yellow at Le Mans is something I never thought about before.

dxman92
dxman92 HalfDork
2/4/20 9:38 p.m.

I'm curious about logistics and behind the scenes stuff.

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