Fear and Loathing in Bonneville (My Trip to Speedweek)


Our route took us near Area 51 and our vehicle's GPS agreed as well!

In addition, in doing harmonic studies of the S13 I could see that there were some potential issues starting at speeds of 140 mph and possibly carrying over to around 180-200 mph.  Since I have no experience with how bumpy the place is or how the salt changes from year to year, I was worried about what could happen in a series of small bumps in the area of critical speed.  How would the KW's handle harmonic amplification of force at a real high frequency beyond what I have potentially ever experienced?

We were really in the middle of nowhere for hours with no cell coverage, no data and no help if anything happened to our car.  Yes, there are still places like this in the USA!  This is the road that the Silver State Classic Challenge is run on.  You can read about our adventures about that  here and here!

After spending several evenings crunching numbers I figured out what I wanted and enlisted the help of KW's Chris Marion to revalve a set of KW Clubsports to do what I wanted in two scenarios.  The first preferable scenario was if we were having a problem with the base KW damping, and the salt was fairly smooth with ripple sort of bumps, we would go to a softer spring to lower the front frequency. Two, if the salt was rough with large G outs we would go to a stiffer spring in the rear.

The town of Ely is about the only major town between Wendover and Las Vegas.  It is also the home of the Sliver State Classic Challenge.

The stiff rear spring would do the same thing by proportionally increasing the rear frequency but keep the car from blowing through the travel.  Since traction on salt with skinny LSR tires is a serious issue, I wanted a linear compression and slightly digressive rebound damping curve which we have found to greatly help traction in several applications.  Chris built up a set of rear shocks with enough rebound to handle our stiffer springs and used a special compression valve we developed for Formula D with linear compression and a low high speed blow off. 

 We arrived at the Salt Flats a little after the car did.

Chris worked for several days on KW's shock dyno to get the suspension calibrated with the right rebound as the compression blow off force control has an overall global impact on the compression and rebound damping.  He solved the problem by using a large 22mm shaft to maximize fluid flow though the valves.

The first task was to unpack and organize what had to get done in order to pass tech and run the car.

Chris also agreed to come out with me for the learning experience as he, like myself, had never tried to do LSR stuff.  This year we have had many suspension consulting adventures breaking records and winning in everything from drag racing to drifting so this would be an interesting challenge.


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