Chapter Two: Keys to Finding a Good Setup
think about when finding a good setup
heard it before: when it comes to winning, "the driver makes
all the difference". That's mostly true - a good driver is more
important than a good car, however a good setup is key for anyone! Many
racers who are new to the sport ask what is the best set up for their
car, and the answer is the one that works best for them. Every driver
has their own way of driving and with that comes a set up that works best
for that style of driving. So before you go wrenching on your car
and chasing a good set up, first let’s take a look at what we are trying
to achieve when we set up a car and how your driving style affects this.
may hear a driver talk about how “balanced” his car feels. That’s what
a good set up is all about, balance. Like a tightrope walker, a good
set up strikes a balance between all the variables that affect its performance. A
well-balanced car is one that does not want to spin out at every corner,
what we call loose or oversteer or one that refuses to turn, what we call
tight or understeer. This is achieved partially by the design of the car
and partially by the set up of the car. Weight distribution front
to back and side to side should be as equal as possible unless there is
a benefit from offsetting the balance such as in oval racing.
style will also dictate how a car performs. If a driver likes to
stay hard on the throttle through a turn, chances are the car will feel
tight and act as though it has understeer. If the driver likes to
slam on the brakes, the car may spin and act as it has oversteer. Proper
driving style is actually the first step to having your car handle properly. Practice
driving as often as you can. Learn when to brake and how much to
brake. Learn how to ease into the throttle of a nitro car to keep
the car from spinning out under power. Know how far you can push
your car before it spins or pushes wide in a corner.
you have a feel for driving your car, you can start to make changes to
it. Notice and take notes on where the car is having problems. Is
there a particular corner where it seems to want to spin out? How does
it behave through the beginning, middle, and exit to each corner? Does
it not want to begin the turn but then tracks through the middle and exit
of a corner okay or does it push wide in the middle of the corner? Does
the car feel very twitchy and responsive or does it feel sluggish and
slow to respond? Narrowing down what parts of the car’s behavior
you do like and don’t like will help narrow down your options.
your goal is to balance the car and tailor it to the way you drive. If
you want to be able to get on the throttle faster coming out of a corner,
look to the things that will let you do that. You can only push your
car so far though and if you notice everyone is having the same problem
in the same area then chances are it is not your driving or the car’s
set up that’s to fault. Deciding what problems you can fix and what
problems you have to live with are perhaps the toughest challenges of
is the golden rule to car set up. If you take nothing else from this
guide, remember this:
make one change at a time! If you make many changes and the car gets
worse, you may not know which change altered the car’s performance. Even
if the car gets faster, because you do not know which change improved
the car’s handling chances are you will not be able to repeat it at later
matter how many different tuning options a car may have, it is always
very important to record each set up change you make and notate what changes
it had on the way the car handles. Many manufacturers will make set
up sheets available for their cars. These sheets will have fields
for every conceivable option on the car including what electronics gear
was used and the settings for that equipment. Try and be as thorough
as possible as the better records you keep, the better information you’ll
have available in the future.
sheet for RS4 Pro 3.Notice that every aspect of the car’s set up
can be recorded here.
(Available on http://www.hpiracing.com)
everyone has access to a factory provided set up sheet though. You
can make one for your car yourself. Here are some of the things you
may wish to include on your sheet:
type of track you are racing on, weather and time of day.
type, compound, size, insert, and wheel for both front tires.
castor, and toe for left and right side front suspension.
kick up and roll center (if adjustable)
upper link location both inside and outside.
Ackerman link length.
springs, piston, oil, and preload for both front shocks.
shock position both on shock tower and on suspension arm.
10. Repeat steps 2
through 9 for rear suspension.
12. Body type
15. Pinion and spur
gear ratio along with roll out
16. Transponder placement
17. Steering servo
18. A section for taking
notes on the set up.
want someplace to put your notes after you have recorded them. Most
people will organize them in some type of binder. Some sort them
by track type, then weather condition; others will organize them by setups
that worked and setups that didn’t work. Some people even make a
simple drawing of the track and note how the car behaved on certain sections
of the track for each set up they tried. Find a way that you are
comfortable with and stick to it. The better you take notes, the better
your ability to quickly dial in your car to changing track or weather
possible, also make sure to record individual lap times. Sometimes a set
up change that you make may not seem like it made any difference until
you look at your lap times and see you picked up a few 10ths of a second! If
you have a friend time your car, be sure to offer to do the same for him