Going Back to the Future!
By Jay Roeder
ello loyal reader and welcome back! As I sit here at the helm of my wonderful computer, I find myself at somewhat of a loss as to what I should write about. The problem you see, is that I haven’t really done much in the last two months as far as trying some new component “guaranteed” to improve my ET by a tenth or attended any “official” Stock/Super Stock events for the IHRA (because there isn’t ANY around here anymore). What I have done is try, try harder, and try again to get a TEN second time slip out of Muscrate before the end of the season.
I’ll spare you any suspense and just admit failure, well kinda. You see, for some reason the same racing gods that were smiling down on me last report and led me to that wonderful company Hughes Performance (and my first 1.40 something 60 foots) have decided that I had been having way too much fun and that from then on I would have a head wind of some variation against me for the foreseeable future. All was not lost however as I have been able to make some performance improvements along the way and if I allow myself to “racer math” a few variables into the equation I can sleep at night knowing that I could go some tens in the future if I stayed at it.
Basically, I made one parts change along the way and it may actually be a valuable “tech tip” for some of my fellow footbrakers. I truly wish I had made the change early in the year because I could have saved myself a LOT of aggravation along the way and most certainly have won more money. What is this magical “tip” you ask? I changed my rear brakes. More specifically I changed the brake shoes. Aha! You thought I was going to tell you all about a “trick” new set of rear disc brakes that cost $400 plus dollars and were all purty to look at didn’t you? Nope, TWELVE BUCKS! Twelve stinkin’ bucks. The problem I have been having all season long was the car sliding the front tires on the starting line when I go up against the MSD 2 step and either causing me to redlight or mentally trying to back off the tree because I knew I'd gone in “deep” and cutting a few of the absolute worst lights I have ever had.
The front Aerospace Components discs were holding fine but the factory rear drums were obviously not up to the task. Sure, I could back down on the launch rpm to around 3000 rpms and not roll but that just created another problem. The difference in the launch between a 3000 rpm start and a 3500 rpm start is remarkable. The little 302 “Hemi-Eater” in Muscrate makes no power down low. So, it is the difference between popping the front wheels a foot or so and laboring out, or doing a really big wheelie! If I can’t do wheelies I won’t race, just me I guess. I have to have some kind of “fun factor” or I’m out.
I tried adjusting the tension tighter on the brake shoes but that didn’t really seem to help. I would pump up the brake pressure before I staged to the point my leg hurt but that didn’t seem to really help either, so I took a different approach. I was going to buy those purty discs, but decided to wait on that for the future, and took a good look at what I was using and tried to figure out how I could improve them. Normally, you have to spend more money to make an improvement, that is the sickness of motorsports, but I went the opposite direction. Looking at the current shoes, I noticed that I had used some “good” shoes that were of the semi-metallic variety and they looked kind of shiny or glazed. I have in the past taken a piece of sand paper to them to remove the shiny but it never really helped much.
What I needed was grip at a standstill, not grip at speed (we don’t need no stinkin’ brakes). I went down to the local NAPA store and bought the cheapest non-metallic brakes they had and went back to the shop twelve bucks poorer. I thought “man if this works I’m gonna be happy and pissed off at myself all at the same time,” welcome to my world. I used a small pneumatic grinder with a coarse disc to rough up the brake drums and installed my new shoes.