Quick steer units, or steering quickeners as they are often called, arenot new. They have been around since at least the early '60s. I knowthis because I built my first one for a stock car in 1963.

A steering quickener changes the ratio of the turns between the steeringwheel and the steering box. By doing this, an input of one half of aturn on the wheel might be the equivalent of a full turn of the steeringshaft at the box. This speeds up the steering results to the driver.Thus the driver has more ability to respond to a situation in a shorteramount of time.

I recall when some promoters thought steering quickeners should beoutlawed for being too dangerous. It was said the driver would respondtoo fast and thus cause a crash. This is the same category of thoughtthat led USAC to ban rollcages on sprint cars. They thought racers wouldthen drive over their heads and crash more often. As much as our sportloves technological advances, sometimes we take steps backward.

I think anything that improves car control should not be limited,especially if it is not cost prohibitive. Understand, a quickener wouldnot be the thing to have on a Cup car running 200 mph. The steeringratio needs to match the application. Superspeedway cars use slowerratios--I'm told somewhere in the neighborhood of 18:1--to slow theresponse at high speed. This would be considered a slow ratio, even onthe street. The Street Stock on a quarter-mile bullring often uses asteering box with a 16:1 ratio. When this is coupled to a quickener witha 2:1 ratio, the driver feels it as an 8:1 ratio. This allows the driverto react faster to a given situation.

Often in the Street Stock classes, where cars weigh more than 3,000pounds, it is necessary to have power steering with a quickener. This isbecause with the shorter ratio of the quickener, the steering wheelforces might be too high. I have run across a few drivers who don't usepower steering with the quickener. They say they like to feel the track.My point is that you can try to prove a point about being strong, or youcan be comfortable in your race car during the last few laps of thefeature.

On the other hand, my daughter Martha won a number of races in a PintoMini-Stock that had a quickener and no power steering. The lighterweight of the car made the difference. Still, today, I would have powersteering on the car for the safety factor alone.

When running the dirt bullrings as well as other tracks, I believe thereis a safety factor involved. When the car encounters a deep rut, or evena concrete wall, the force on the front wheel is considerable. Thisforce is translated to radial movement of the steering wheel. If you areholding it tight, this sudden movement can have a serious effect on yourfingers, hands, or wrists. Just as power steering makes it easier foryou to steer the front wheel, it makes it more difficult for the frontwheel to steer you. Your leverage against the force of the front wheelis magnified by power steering.

I'll give you an idea of where the quickener came from. I certainlydon't want to imply that this is the only source. Good ideas tend to popup simultaneously in different areas. In 1963 I built my first stockcar. The ungainly thing didn't drive well at all. A friend, Frank Rileyof Dallas, also a driver of some note, mentioned having seen some kindof speed-up gear and chain on the steering of a car in New Mexico. Thisset me to thinking. Four pillow block bearings and some industrial-gradesprockets pilfered from my employer merged with some 1/4-inch steelplate for my first quickener. This thing must have weighed 30 pounds.But to my delight, it did speed up the steering. I must have made fiveor six quickeners during the years before store-bought quickeners weremanufactured. The more I built, the lighter and smaller they got, butnone were as light as those you can now buy over the counter.