1. introduction

2. suspension lessons

3. stressing

4. chassis 101

5. Autodynamics

6. jet set

7. sun set

8. Raceware

9. enter the Seven

10. skin deep

11. the DSK concept

12. the list list

13. DSK hits the road

14. postscript

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4. Chassis Design 101

The theoretical discussions about track tuning the various competing makes of cars painted a picture of chassis design. The Lolas of Eric Broadley were widely reputed to be the easiest of the Can-Am cars to drive. The word was that, "Lola is a forgiving car." Caldwell and Carl Haas talked about that one day as we stood over the team cars of Skip Scott and Chuck Parsons in Haas's West Coast Headquarters; garages a few doors down from Al Barts Racing Engines. (The Haas and Autodynamics teams both ran Barts small-block Chevy engines.) Caldwell was lecturing Haas about the stiffness of the Lola chassis. A torsionally stiff chassis kept the wheels pointed under heavy dynamic loading and made the car predictable and easy to manage.

Caldwell talked about our team's earlier experiences with the Mk III McLaren. McLaren's track behavior had earned them a reputation as "precise but twitchy" cars. Ray opined that the light McLaren tub lacked the torsional rigidity of the Lola. Tuning the suspension for a given track would likely result in the McLaren sitting on stiffer springs, shock and anti-roll bar settings. That would make the McLaren respond faster to turn in and give it a precise feel, but also make it more subject to "upset" on rough surfaces, especially bumpy turns. Hence, McLarens were described as darty - quick but unforgiving. It was unclear to me whether Haas agreed, but then he usually held his cards close to the vest.

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