The Staff of Motorsport Marketing
The Staff of Motorsport Marketing Writer
2/19/21 8:11 a.m.

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the May/June 1997 issue of Grassroots Motorsports.]

Story by Lee Grimes

If you, like many motorsports enthusiasts, were hungry for any racing action as the 1997 season began winding up, you likely paid attention to the practice and qualifying sessions for the Daytona 500. The big story there was the new stronger spring rule mandated by NASCAR, and which teams could now get their suspensions to work the best.

The buzz was all about shock absorbers and how they were the key to keeping the rearend stable and predictable so the driver could put the precious horsepower to the pavement.

But Daytona isn't the only place where proper suspension tuning is vital to car control and fast lap times; it has been accurately said that many of the recent gains in suspension control have been made with shock absorbers. They can be the difference between who is on the track and who is on the trailer. But it doesn't matter if you are struggling for the last tenth of a second on track or simply trying to nail those esses through your favorite Sunday drive; suspension motion and transitional control is what handling is all about.

Most enthusiasts begin transforming their street cars into performance machines with the installation of higher performance tires. The next big gain is going to be with a set of performance shock absorbers.

Although the naked eye may not, be able to see any difference between average and performance models. inside these shocks you'll find a world of difference. And while automobile manufacturers are making strides each year in bettering suspension designs and improving car control, too many models still come off the line with basic shock absorbers that are better matched to the general public and the financial bottom line. It is up to the individual owner to understand what shocks do and select what will improve his or her car.

Read the rest of the story

fearlesfil
fearlesfil New Reader
2/19/21 3:52 p.m.

Helpful article. I have yellow Koni adjustables on my 2011 Mustang GT Brembo, and knowing when/ when not to turn that rebound knob, and what for, is terrific. I'd known about using springs rates and anti-roll bar sizes to affect front/rear balance, but hadn't thought about adjusting the front shocks to improve rear traction. Now that you mention it, it makes sense!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/20/21 10:57 a.m.
fearlesfil said:

Helpful article. I have yellow Koni adjustables on my 2011 Mustang GT Brembo, and knowing when/ when not to turn that rebound knob, and what for, is terrific. I'd known about using springs rates and anti-roll bar sizes to affect front/rear balance, but hadn't thought about adjusting the front shocks to improve rear traction. Now that you mention it, it makes sense!

Glad that it helped. Yeah, with rebound-adjustable shocks, you kind of have to think "backwards" sometimes. But when you do, it makes sense.

Also, this article is from back in the day. Physics are physics. Share it! Tell your friends. laugh

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
2/20/21 12:49 p.m.

I've always felt if you are going to learn one thing on a car learn dampers. Coming from the two wheeled world I was surprised by the number of people who didn't take the time to learn the adjustments

300zxfreak
300zxfreak Reader
2/22/21 1:38 p.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

I concur. I've spent a lot of time on various bikes tweaking the  suspension  and then  wondering why I didn't do the same on my cars, or at least have the ability to do so. I guess it's so much easier to understand and quicker to analyze results on bikes than cars, but I'm about to make that leap on my Z.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
2/22/21 3:44 p.m.

In reply to 300zxfreak :

Bikes, especially dirt bikes, are easier because you can make adjustments then blaze up and down the same section of trial trying out the changes. Autocross doesn't lend itself well to testing (other than an actual test day) Track days work well for testing but if you're on your own there isn't much time to do two laps, unbuckle make a change, strap yourself in and then go and and test it.  In a 30 minute session you'd probably only get  one change in.

Dampers are mostly about transient handling, given the amount of time the car spends in transitions you're giving up a lot of time by not dialing them in.

It also comes down to driving style; I aggressively rotate the car with trail braking and throttle steering mid-corner, while a friend does the same with trailing throttle (does all his braking in a straight line). Neither one of us particularly likes the others driving style, we once drove the same car at an autocross and the discussion about increasing or decreasing the rebound was hilarious. I tend to set up a car as soft as you dare.

So at the end of the day you have to play with the settings to fine tune it so it works for you.

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