Suspension & Handling Goodies
by Martin Gonzales & Steve Rockwood
Manufacturers of econoboxes – in our case, luxury econoboxes – don’t seem to have racing in mind when designing suspensions. Instead, they tend to focus on ignoble things like making cars ride smoothly and quietly while simultaneously neutering handling dynamics just enough to keep the product liability lawyers at bay, regardless of their drivers’ level of driving ability (or lack thereof). This, unfortunately, ends in a car that is going to wallow like a pig and suffer from snow-plow levels of terminal understeer. What does this mean to you? It means that you are going to annihilate the shoulders of those expensive and fast wearing R-compound tires, not to mention scrape the paint off the door handles, if you show up with OEM springs and dampers on race day. In this article, we will take you through the daunting task of turning our luxury econobox into a luxuriously handling machine.
Dampers are one of the most important parts of a racecar, as they keep racecar appropriate spring rates under control as well as give the race team the ability to fine-tune many behavioral aspects of the car’s handling. Pro race teams pour enormous amounts of time and money into developing dampers with dizzying amounts of adjustability. Luckily for our wallets, the Performance Touring (PT) rules penalize teams who use exotic dampers as a means to even the wildly varying economic playing field (NASA paddocks are filled with rigs ranging from UHauls to custom 18 wheelers).
|The Infiniti G20, also know as the Nissan Primera, has a rich racing history dating back to the inaugural season of the British Touring Car Championship's (BTCC) Super Tourer class.|
For our car, we wanted dampers that had seperate adjustments for both compression and rebound, and could handle spring rates ranging between 500-1000 in-lbs. This turned out to be more easily said than done. It seems the only people other than us who race the P10 chassis live in Great Britain and ran in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). The dampers used on these cars were far too exotic for us and were installed on suspensions that had little in common with the OEM suspension. As a result, no one makes an off the shelf solution for dampers capable of handling our planned spring rates. In addition, due to our car’s combination of shocks and struts, finding adaptable dampers out of a catalogue proved difficult as well.
|Though the Primera was used for many years in the BTCC, there is a lack of after market “race level” options for nearly every part of the car besides the engine.|