I’ve been on this planet for four decades now. I’ve picked up on a lot of things and some of the best advice I’ve ever received, is “sometimes it’s better to believe what you see,not what you think”.
Every weekend at racetracks across the country some of the best minds in the business just can’t agree on which theory is correct to improve the performance of the vehicle in question. That’s just the way it is, performance improvement is a constantly varying science. There are a lot of variables in any equation and if you read or take in information supplied by a source and the source in question is a “been there done that” type of person and you disagree with them….chances are you better keep it to yourself.
I’ve had customers, racers, engineers and even landscapers send me and offer me up a lot of pretty bizarre ideas and technologies that worked. I was talking to Bret Kepner’s cameraman the other day and guess what? He had a good idea he was carrying around in his head. Yes, a cameraman. Not exactly a “been there done that kind of guy” in racing. But, if the late Smokey Yunick were to tell you that the cameraman’s idea was correct, then you can bet Smokey tried it and it worked. Back to the quote: “Sometimes it’s better to believe what you see, not what you think”.
In my spare time I race alcohol powered go-karts. “It’s 90 mph, seat of the pants, let it all hang out stress relief”. I even have a dynamometer in the shop to dyno test my single cylinder wonders. These single cylinder engines, originally designed to spin 2800 rpm now spin in excess of 7500 rpm. But the really great thing I discovered while testing them, is the repeatability of the engine from pull to pull. Yes, you guessed it, what a great engine for testing theories. I’ve logged more hours dynoing those engines with different fuels and atomization patterns, booster concepts and fuel air calculations than I have racing them. Now I know why the octane ratings RON/MON numbers are derived from a single cylinder engine. I’ve developed some technologies that made great power on the dyno but were slower on the racetrack and vice versa. Yes, I have a full data acquisition system with track mapping on my kart so I can measure rates of acceleration etc…yes I plug a laptop into my kart after every race. It looks silly but that’s racing these days. The bottom line is, if you’re standing around the racetrack scratching your head and some old timer or even a local kid that’s never touched a car before tells you “I saw that one time and here’s what worked for this guy”. Listen to him, because sometimes a voice of experience is more valuable than a voice of theory based assumption.
Thanks for reading!