Race and road car suspensions

Posted on July 30th, 2006 in Handling,Opinion,Suspension by Julian Edgar

I don’t claim to be well versed in race car driving, although I’ve driven a production race car for a few laps of a circuit and I’ve driven road cars on skidpans and race tracks and at manufacturers’ proving grounds.

Conversely, I have driven probably about half a million kilometres on roads. Like you probably also have, I’ve driven on smooth freeways, on rutted dirt, on gravel and patched bitumen, and roads with corners and roads with straights. Roads with hills; roads that are flat. Roads with lots of traffic; roads with none. Roads that are easy; roads that throw corners and dips at you with startling, frightening suddenness.

And I know that the most common attribute of roads is their inconsistency. Not only do roads suddenly change as you progress along them, but the same road can have an utterly different character if the weather or traffic change.

The times that I have been on racetracks have shown me one thing: their variability is simply vastly less than roads. Yes, there can be changes in weather and traffic, but you don’t usually need to be wary of cars coming the other way, cars that might cross the centreline, for example. You don’t need to wonder where the next corner goes and – after one lap – you don’t need to worry if the surface has deteriorated overnight, or an errant truck has sprinkled gravel or diesel across your path.

And roads have bumps, lots of bumps. You need only watch racing cars on street circuits to see how smooth the tracks they drive on usually are. Even the groomed-for-racing street circuit looks bumpy when being traversed by racing cars; a road car barely notices.

A commercially viable way to make a one-off car?

Posted on July 16th, 2006 in Opinion by Julian Edgar


In the last week I have been lucky enough to see in close-up detail two unique cars, both of which are made largely from scratch.

Jeez, how do spare parts counter assistants keep their jobs?

Posted on July 2nd, 2006 in Opinion by Julian Edgar


It’s along time since I worked behind the counter in a shop – and even then it was only a Christmas job. So maybe I’ve forgotten what complete idiots many customers are and how store staff have to cope with that day-in and day-out. But jeez I find it frustrating buying stuff.

Invariably, when you buy an automotive component, the first thing the staff ask you is: “What make and model?”

They’ll ask that even if you have brought in a sample – say a piece of bent wire for a custom-shaped water hose on a turbo conversion. It doesn’t matter if you say: “It’s a custom job; do you have one like this?” …they just repeat the question.

Today I wanted to buy some oil that’s used in the steering dampers of motorcycles. I wanted to know: