Corner Weight Distribution in Preparing a Car for Amateur Racing

Getting a car ready for amateur races is a matter of time and priorities. Unfortunately, one of the most important things to fine-tune, corner weight, is usually left for last or not at all. Corner weight is the ratio of static weight distribution between the left and right side of the car, specifically, the left and right side of the front of the car.

racingsydneyThe problem with getting the corner weight distribution correctly is that this is done after all the other parts of the car has been replaced. It also takes into account the driver’s weight. The rear weight distribution can be easily calculated with an automated scale. The front weight distribution needs some more mathematics and a little trial and error. Getting this ratio correctly helps with the steering. Over-steer and under-steer become a problem when the weight distribution is not even. Over-steer can result in a loss of a fraction of a second during turns.

In regular cars, under-steer and over-steer are corrected with wheel alignment. In racing, the tire wear is continuously monitored and the wheels are regularly aligned. Any other cause for under-steer (and over-steer) is due to the car’s weight being thrown around in a high-speed turn. In theory, the car’s weight and momentum should help with the high-speed turn. To do that, the corner weight is adjusted with the use of additional weights placed to balance the car.

The suspension setup is also considered in adjusting the static weight distribution. Racecar suspensions are beefed up versions of regular cars. There is more stress on a car, and even the slightest bump can be magnified when running at high speeds. Racecar suspensions are stronger, beefier, and more durable. Still, the nature of the stress, and to ensure that there would be no problems during the race, the suspension are checked thoroughly and replaced at the slightest sign of damage. The repair logs are also meticulously maintained in order to prevent any damage due to wear and tear; parts are replaced just before they are expected to fail.

The stress of a high-speed turn results in a car being literally thrown into a turn, expecting it to hold, and not overturn. Engineers and mechanics look at this from a system point of view and do not rely on a single solution. The static body weight, weight distribution, suspension and steering all have a role in ensuring that the car runs through a turn as fast as possible without getting off track.

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