Gear and Tech : November 21, 2008
All too often people seem to forget that having lots of Horsepower is absolutely useless if you can’t put it to the ground. Unless you’re building a show car or a dyno queen, if you can’t get the power down, what’s the point?
While all of this is generally up for debate, I believe you have to achieve some sort of balance. Why do you think you see 800hp Supras running 12’s? (Not all of them, mind you.) I have a friend with a supercharged Miata that can absolutely pull higher horsepower cars in 1st and 2nd just due to the fact that he can put all of the power down.
Most RWD applications don’t have a traction problem due to weight transferring automatically to the rear wheels which need traction. FWD guys don’t have this luxury, so some things need to be put in place to make up for this shortcoming.
Here’s some good ways to eliminate most of your FWD traction problems:
One of the most overlooked items is Tires. These are your only contact to the ground, and is no doubt the most important thing to consider. Generally, the bigger your contact patch, the more traction you’ll get.
Another thing to address is Spring Rates. Most FWD drag racers run higher spring rates in the rear and lower in the front. This is due to the fact that when launching a car, all of the force is carried backwards. When all the weight shifts backwards, the load is placed over your rear tires. The stiffer the rear springs, the more load is pushed back over the front wheels, thus causing less spin.
A common mod for FWD guys also is Traction Bars. Anytime you move a FWD car forcibly in any direction, the front control arms and bushings flex due to load, decreasing traction and stability. Traction bars hold it all together, keeping everything from flexing, and thus losing traction.
Another thing to consider is Solid Motor Mounts. A common problem with some FWD applications is the dreaded wheel hop. Not only is it jarring and bad for traction, but it can also destroy drivetrain components. By solidifying your motor in place, you can greatly reduce this problem.
All in all, the FWD platform is not bad for racing, it’s just the fact of putting power down. With these minimal mods, you’ll be hooking up with no problem.