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Unread 07-23-2013, 11:45 AM
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Ron Sutton Ron Sutton is offline
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Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom, CA
Posts: 2,656
Default Overall Handling & Tuning for Track Performance

Skip this part if you know me or simply don’t care.

A little bit about me:
I’ve been racing for 35 years in 80+ classes of racing, most professionally, including drag, road course, karts & oval track. From low powered Formula Fords & F2000 cars to Mountain Motor drag racing … Midgets, Sprint Cars, Super Modifieds … to GT road race cars, Modifieds, Late Models & NASCAR Stock Cars. I’ve had the good fortune to work with & learn from winning teams & smart people in SCCA, USAC, SRL, NHRA, IHRA, IMSA, Indy Lights, Indycar, Grand Am & NASCAR.

Most of my modern experience is in road racing & oval track, as I haven’t been to a drag race since 1987. My operation has had 3 names, but settled on Ron Sutton’s Winner’s Circle about 20+ years ago. It was a statement to our commitment to winning. But in 2006, we joked about changing it to Ron Sutton’s Third Place Circle when we had nine 3rds & only one win … then we designed & built new cars in the off season & got back to winning. Today, my business that offers parts, complete cars, technical services & car/track consulting is named Ron Sutton Race Technology.

Many of you know what “married up” means. I did. My sweet wife Kim is very supportive of my crazy career & involved a lot, but doesn’t work in it on a day-to-day basis. When I look back, the numbers are a little overwhelming. We’ve built 64 tube chassis pro style cars & 140+ sportsman cars for clients. We’ve had a chassis shop, parts store, track stores & engine R&D over the years. I’ve owned 79 race cars myself … including 9 full time race teams until 2012. Most years we were at the track 3-4 days a week, 40+ weeks out of the year. How I stay married is completely a mystery, and I know I’m fortunate.

After I broke my back racing aero karts at Sears Point in 1991 I realized it’s the friends & relationships I have in the motorsports that I value most. That didn’t change how hard we worked … it just changed my viewpoint about relationships & teamwork. Frankly we started winning more races as I learned how to build better teams & developed more friendships with competitors & resources within the sport.

I live & breathe competition, and I believe winning comes from doing your homework, testing, working hard, testing more, learning from books, classes & mentors … and testing more. I’m not the smartest guy at the track, but when he goes home I’m still there testing & learning. I figure I have 2500+ days of track testing under my belt. As a driver, owner, crew chief or driver coach I have 498 personal wins & 22 championships. My clients' wins total in the thousands.

We closed my 9 team operation & parts business at the end of 2012. The economy being so bad for so long dried up too much sponsorship for us to continue racing as we did. When Dale Earnhardt Jr. had 13 races unsponsored in 2013, you know it’s tough. I sold all the parts, equipment, race cars & rigs and took some time off to relax ... whatever that is. I enjoyed a little slower pace, writing a series of tuning books and having fun building my new ’57 Chevy PT/Street Fighter, which is the prototype for my new Warrior cars. It's on hold now as I am busy helping so many clients build new cars or improve their current car. I’m really enjoying meeting a lot of good people in this part of the car sport. I already knew Mike Maier for several years, as he raced Midgets in USAC too. For those of you who know him only from AutoX, Mike won race in USAC Midgets too. He’s a hardcore racer & a winner.

I’m not an engineer. I’ve worked for them & with them … and had several work for me … but we’re from different planets. One of my friends said, “Ron is a race car designer that did not go to engineering school, so he speaks car guy.” I’m a veteran car guy committed to staying on the leading edge of performance & racing technology. I like to think I’m pretty knowledgeable in my areas of expertise … but I learn every week, if not every day ... and there is a ton I don’t know about street cars, style, paint & body, upholstery, car accessories, etc, etc, etc.

I know I’m tired of talking about me … but for Pete’s sake we don’t want any more threads asking who I am.

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This Forum Thread is for discussing & learning about “Overall Handling & Tuning for Track Performance.”

For a thread focused on: Front Suspension & Steering Geometry for Track Performance ... click HERE.
For a thread focused on: Rear Suspension & Geometry for Track Performance ... click HERE.
For a thread focused on: Designing Aerodynamics for Track Performance ... click HERE.
For a thread focused on: Safety for Pro-Touring Track Cars ... click HERE.

I promise to post advice only when I have significant knowledge & experience on the topic. I don’t like to guess, wing it or BS on things I don’t know. I figure you can wing it without my input, so no reason for me to wing it for you.

A few guidelines I’m asking for this thread:
1. I don't enjoy debating the merits of tuning strategies with anyone that thinks it should be set-up or tuned another way. It's not fun or valuable for me, so I simply don’t do it. Please don’t get mad if I won’t debate with you.

2. If we see it different … let’s just agree to disagree & go run ’em on the track. Arguing on an internet forum just makes us all look stupid. Besides, that’s why they make race tracks, have competitions & then declare winners & losers.

3. To my engineering friends … I promise to use the wrong terms … or the right terms the wrong way. Please don’t have a cow.

4. To my car guy friends … I promise to communicate as clear as I can in “car guy” terms. Some stuff is just complex or very involved. If I’m not clear … call me on it. I’m writing some books and want car guys to understand them. When you’re really not clear on something I said … please bring it up & help me improve.

5. I type so much, so fast, I often misspell or leave out words. Ignore the mistakes if it makes sense. But please bring it up if it doesn’t.

6. I want people to ask questions. That’s why I’m starting this thread ... so we can discuss & learn. There are no stupid questions, so please don’t be embarrassed to ask about anything within the scope of the thread.

7. If I think your questions … and the answers to them will be valuable to others … I want to leave it on this thread for all of us to learn from. If your questions get too specific to your car & I think it won’t be of value to others … I may ask you to start a separate thread where you & I can discuss your car more in-depth.

8. Some people ask me things like “what should I do?” … and I can’t answer that. It’s your hot rod. I can tell you what doing “X’ or “Y” will do and you can decide what makes sense for you.

9. It’s fun for me to share my knowledge & help people improve their cars. It’s fun for me to learn stuff. Let’s keep this thread fun.

10. As we go along, I may re-read what I wrote ... fix typos ... and occasionally, fix or improve how I stated something. When I do this, I will color that statement red, so it stands out if you re-skim this thread at some time too.

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Feel free to chime in or ask technical questions. I am here to help where I can.

Ron Sutton

Ron Sutton Race Technology
Your One Stop, Turn & Go Fast, Car Building Resource Center for Autocross, Track, Road Racing & Triple Duty Pro-Touring Cars

Check out our 400 Page Car Building Catalog HERE

Features: Suspension, Chassis, Cages, Brakes, Rear Ends, Engines, Transmisssions, Aero & Much, Much More!

Last edited by Ron Sutton : 12-07-2014 at 05:25 PM.
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