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Road Race Driveline Challenges & Solutions

As with various race products, new driveline components specifically for road racing often require a learning curve by racers, who frequently rely on retailers’ product knowledge and installation expertise.

By Theresia Whitfield

 

As with various race products, new driveline components specifically for road racing often require a learning curve by racers, who frequently rely on retailers’ product knowledge and installation expertise.

To help strike a balance between performance, reliability and budget, the proper selection of components is critical. Understanding local sanctioning bodies’ rulebooks is important, too.

Several manufacturers of such components offer helpful resources, we discovered.

For example, Weddle Industries in Goleta, California, prides itself on offering essential support to race teams for installation and use. “Feedback from our customers is very important to us,” Ron Weddle said. “It informs all of our development and improvements to our products.”

Evan Cline of Exedy Clutch in Belleville, Michigan, agreed that education is imperative when helping retailers and racers address certain problems. “One of the biggest issues we see is the consumer being sold the wrong kit for the use the vehicle is seeing,” he said. “Education and research by the reseller as well as the consumer can help overcome these issues.”

Jeff Neal of Quarter Master in Lake Zurich, Illinois, advised racers and retailers to closely follow manufacturers’ instructions to ensure all gaps and tolerances are set to factory standards. “And if your customer is a weekend warrior who doesn’t have the option of spending a lot of time working on his car,” he added, “you don’t want to recommend components that wear quickly and need to be replaced frequently.”

Another common challenge involves fitment, which our sources were quick to address. “We try to make that as painless as possible,” said Tony Salloum of VAC Motorsports in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “If there’s a fitment issue, some people have to make some kind of modification to their driveshaft. But if the racing retailer is not really knowledgeable on how to do the work, then they should be as open as possible with the racer.” And that is where the product’s manufacturer or distributor becomes a valuable source of information—to both complete the sale and properly install the component.

Roger Chilton of G Force South in Asheboro, North Carolina, cited the importance of making room for an aftermarket transmission when replacing a stock transmission. “A lot of times it’s a very compact unit made especially for that car,” he said. “When you change over to an upgraded transmission that’s custom built for racing like our transmissions are, a lot of times the shifter doesn’t come out where the old shifter does, and they have to make modifications to accommodate for it.”

He added, “Retailers should spend time with their customers at the race track in the series that they’re trying to supply parts for. That way they have a better understanding of what is expected in that series.”

Retailers must have all the pieces required for a complete package available to racers, advised Kirk Skaufel of Tilton Engineering, Buellton, California. “We try to develop a complete clutch package for specific applications,” he said. “In doing so, we include all the bits and pieces they’d need to install it.”

Holinger America in Aliso Viejo, “takes that extra step in that we can get the product into a client’s car with as little fuss as possible,” said Dana Clark. “We can design all the related components that go along with it, like the clutch, the driveshaft, and the other related components that need to be put into a transmission of a car. We try to do the whole package so there’s nothing left to chance. The better it’s engineered from the beginning, the more durable and the better performing the product is.”

Problems often arise from misalignment between the driveshaft and the pinion in the rearend, noted Gabriel Casella of Saenz, Buenos, Argentina. This causes the input shaft to flex at each turn, with premature fail of the bearing and shaft, in addition to loss of power. “The bellhousing has to be aligned with the main bearing line of the engine block,” he noted. “The gearbox has to be guided without backlash into the bellhousing. The gearbox has to be mounted and fixed with no effort, and the driveshaft has to turn freely, moving back and forward without touching the seals.”

Geoff Gerko of Mantic Clutch in Raleigh, North Carolina, noted that in full function, the clutch often sees less wear than when racers are loading up from the track, or paddock driving. As such, he offered a stern warning: “Don’t try to slip till you’re out of the pits. Don’t drive your car onto the trailer. Tack it up and drop the clutch. Things of that nature will save a lot of wear and tear and money down the road.”


Road Race Driveline Challenges & Solutions

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