Legends Cars have become wildly...
Legends Cars have become wildly popular around the country and have produced Sprint Cup regulars like David Ragan, Reed Sorenson, and Kyle Busch. John Gibson
Over the past 10 years, few types of race vehicles have produced as many Cup regulars as 600 Racing's Legends Cars. They have become wildly popular around the country, not only because of their vintage look, but because of the rules set in place by the Legends sanctioning body, INEX. The rules are written in such a way that setup is important, but the cars themselves are built in such a way that the driver is most responsible for when the car ends up in Victory Lane.
The list of drivers who have come through the Legends ranks is impressive: David Ragan, Kyle and Kurt Busch, Reed Sorenson, and Steve Wallace, to name a few.
Legends are designed with a small wheelbase, only 73 inches, and a short width at only 60 inches wide. Combine this with a Yamaha 1250cc sealed powerplant that produces roughly 130 hp, and you have an extremely difficult handling car. Add to this the fact that a Legends Car weighs just 1,300 pounds with the driver, and this horsepower to weight ratio makes it extremely difficult to get the rear wheels to grip coming off the corner.
A Legends setup is important....
A Legends setup is important. However, the cars are designed in such a way that the driver's talent will be on display. These cars are extremely difficult to maneuver around the track. John Gibson
What racers need to understand is that Legends Cars are a whole new beast when it comes to the setup that goes underneath them. Many young drivers who enter the Legends ranks have a relative or car owner who has worked on a stock car at some point in their life. While some of this knowledge definitely transfers, the changes made in a full bodied car might not work as well in the Legends Cars. The following tips might seem simple, but they are vitally important and must be considered to experience any level of success in these cars.
When compared to everything else you could do to improve the handling of your Legends Car, there is nothing as important as having a new set of tires camber cut. The guys at 600 Racing will cut the tires and groove camber into the rubber. Even with cutting the tires, you will still get 8-10 races on them, which is very reasonable.
One exception to this rule is at the Summer Shootout at Lowe's Motor Speedway. When the sun is out and the track is dry, you still want to run camber-cut tires. But Legends Cars are allowed to race in the rain during the Summer Shootout, and once the track starts to get wet, it's time to take off the camber-cut tires and put on an uncut tire, because wet conditions require as much tire contact with the pavement as possible.
This is also where some teams will be led astray by scaling the car at the shop with an old set of tires. After arriving at the track, the team will bolt on a set of camber-cut tires, but this will change the dynamics of the setup. Make sure you are scaling the car with the tires you will be using when racing. If you do have to change to another set of tires, make sure you know all of the numbers from when the car was on the scales.
A Legends setup might require...
A Legends setup might require a stiffer RF spring to give a car the stability needed while entering the corner. John Gibson
With Legends you cannot touch the shocks, which are spec coilovers from Bilstein. So the spring choices become extremely crucial.
"Take everything you know about a standard Late Model (spring) setup and do the opposite," says Jason Foxworthy, the parts manager for 600 Racing. Make no mistake about it: The same rules apply for diagnosing handling problems, though your baseline setup will differ greatly.
For instance, a typical Late Model spring setup will look like this:
|LF || RF |
|250 ||225 |
|LR ||RR |
|200 ||400 |
But the Late Model has a large front sway bar that will allow you to run a large RR spring. A standard Legends spring selection will look more like this:
|LF ||RF |
|225 || 275 |
|LR || RR |
|175 || 200 |
Being able to get a good run...
Being able to get a good run off the corner is vital to success in a Legends Car. John Gibson
A Legends Car will need more RF spring to give it stability when entering the corner. Plus, this will keep the weight from transferring to the RF too quickly. Being able to get off the corner without having to feather the throttle is extremely important when racing Legends. The cars have such a tendency to spin the tires off the corner that you really can't run as much RR spring as some would like.
Now with all of that being said, there is no magical spring combination that will produce wins. It all comes back to driver feel. Your driver might like a lot of RF spring or RR spring. Just remember, if you are thinking of adding right-rear spring you will need to increase cross weight. Adding RR spring will loosen the car, especially at the exit of the corner, and the cross will help tighten up the car so that you won't have to feather the throttle.
Not a lot of things will slow you down as much as the rearend not being square. Even if it is only off by a 1/16-inch this can still scrub off vital straightaway speed. Think of it like this: If your LR tire is pushed forward 1/4-inch, then the back of the car will be trying to pass the front of the car. All while your driver is wrestling it down the straightaway.
I can guarantee you the teams that are winning at the large Legends events are spending valuable time squaring the rearend of their racecar. The more time you spend getting everything square, the better off you will be.
Pay close attention to tire...
Pay close attention to tire temperatures to learn what is happening with the performance of a Legends Car. John Gibson
Air pressure plays a huge role in handling. "I could change one and a half pounds of air pressure and my car would go from loose to tight," says Joe Saleem, a Legends racer of many years and an SCR columnist. "When you add air pressure it increases the spring rate for that tire."
Joe brings up an excellent point. If you are in a pinch at your local track and want to make a small spring change but don't have a lot of time, consider changing air pressure first. When you add air pressure the car will respond as if you made a minor change of the spring.
The Dreaded Tight-Loose Condition
The most common response you will hear from a driver at a Legends event when asked how the car is handling, is: "It's loose!" But when a change is made to tighten the car up, this makes it even looser. This situation illustrates why tire temperatures are so vital and will tell you exactly what is really happening to your car. A lot of times in Legends racing, a car will push (or get tight) entering the corner and make the driver put more steering input into the car to get it to turn. Once the driver finally does get back to the gas, the back end shoots out from underneath him and the car feels loose. This happens because the driver has the wheel turned so far. The tire temperatures will show you when this is happening.
If your driver comes in and says the car is so loose he can barely drive it, then check the tire temps. If the right rear is 30 or 40 degrees warmer then the right front, then your driver is not lying to you, so tighten it up. But if you see that the right front is warmer, then you are more than likely battling the tight-loose condition. Try loosening it up and seeing if that doesn't help his loose condition.
Changing a spring can take...
Changing a spring can take valuable time from your practice schedule. Instead, try making an air pressure change that should bring the same results. John Gibson
Legends run a spec Bilstein...
Legends run a spec Bilstein coilover shock. Strict fines are in place if any tampering occurs. Jeff Huneycutt
The cars run a spec tire that...
The cars run a spec tire that needs to be camber cut for added speed. John Gibson
Ultimately these cars are designed so that talent will end up in the winner's circle.
"These tires don't make much grip, so the driver really makes all the difference in the world," Rob Hall of Andrew Motorsports reminds us.
Rob spends most of his time setting up Legends for drivers and is an accomplished Legends racer himself. To win, the driver has to be focused and have talent, but the setup also has to be there. Pay close attention to your setup this season and keep a steady eye on those tire temperatures because they will explain to you what exactly is going on. If you do this on a consistent basis, you will likely improve your finishing order, and might just see that elusive winner's circle that we all want to visit.