RPW Column: Learning The Do’s & Don’t’s: The Name Of The Game For Full-Fender Racers Saturday
Column By BRETT HORLACHER / RPW – SCOTIA, NY – Saturday afternoon, Pro Stock and Street Stock teams from around the area gathered at Michaels Automotive in Scotia, NY for great information from some of the best folks who run full-fendered cars in the Northeast.
The seminar started with a social hour with homemade pizza courtesy of Rick Taylor of RCT Roofing and deli sandwiches brought by Wally Brownell of Vicky’s Pizzeria in Galway, NY.
Then, once everyone had eaten, it was time to get down to business.
Phil Defiglio, owner of Michaels Automotive as well as owner / driver of Sinister Motorsports and Kim Duell, driver of the #14 Saratoga Masonry Pro Stock, opened the session. They began with an introduction and overview of what the afternoon would look like along with a brief overview of the September 8th’s $10,000-to-win Autism Awareness race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. The race will be presented by Upstate Chevy Dealers and is being organized by Pro Stock driver Jordan Modiano.
From there, Duell took the reigns and covered the importance of routine maintenance of the car, from washing all of the clay off the car to checking every nut and bolt. The veteran stressed how lacking weekly maintenance can mask problems with the car that affect performance.
In each part of his session, Duell gave an example of what to use, which were all part of the first door prize, giving away a Dewalt tool bag full of cleaners, lubricants and various other items.
After that, former Pro Stock Champion and Duell’s Crew Chief, Dave Madej, went over the basics of squaring the car. That’s essentially ensuring that the four tires are line up directly in front of each other, making sure that each side is square to the center of the chassis.
Madej went on to describe how to use simple tools such as jackstands with a string to check the car after a rough night or if damage was received.
After that, he went into front-end geometry and how to set up a Pro Stock to zero, and how affecting things like toe, caster and camber can and will affect how the car turns.
After another set of door prize giveaways, tire guy Dan Nelson described how to care for tires and prep them for use. He stressed cleanliness, keeping the tires out of the sun and various methods to work the tire, using grinders, siping blades and grooving irons to shape the tire into what you want for a heat or feature.
Finally, he covered how temperature swings in the tire can cause the it to grow. He explained how selecting a tire with the correct size and circumference is of the utmost importance to being fast when it counts (at the end of the race).
Next was Nick Stone of Stone Motorsports & Online Performance Parts. He took over after another set of door prize giveaways and described the basic method of scaling a Pro Stock race car.
For those who don’t know, placing the car on the scales and ensuring that it not only makes minimum weight but also has a higher percentage of left side will ensure that it handles as desired.
While talking about using jacking bolts to adjust where a car sits on a coil spring, he reminded those in attendance that adjusting a single corner of the car requires all four jacking bolts be operated to ensure that it’s adjusted evenly.
Finally, Stone stressed the importance of taking notes. He suggested an online app called Ultimate Race Team Hub where setup notes and the like can be maintained and accessed by all crew members. There, people can even offer adjustment notes based on the car’s handling.
In the last session, Nelson and Defiglio covered methods of obtaining sponsorship as well as the advantages and pitfalls of social media. They talked about the importance of establishing a connection with a business and how important it is. The duo described what your race car brings to a business owner in the form of advertising opportunity per dollar and how that’s key to a successful partnership.
Defiglio was adamant that a potential sponsor could be reading everything you post on social media and drove home the point that negativity doesn’t help anyone.
The afternoon concluded with even more giveaways, which ranged from several set-up tools from Stone Motorsports, VP Fuel Jugs from Curtis Lumber, two sets of tires from Defiglio’s Michael’s Automotive and at least a dozen family four-packs of tickets to Albany-Saratoga Speedway.
Kim Duell, Phil Defiglio, and Nick Stone would like to thank all who attended, and intend on doing more of these sessions in the future.