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Going fast on a budget

There are several ways you can speed up your car without speeding up the flow of cash from your wallet.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 09:00
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Do you have lots of money to spend upgrading your vehicle for maximum performance? Me neither. But that doesn’t mean we have to settle for mediocre performance. There are ways to go fast on a budget, no matter what you’re driving and what your budget is. Here’s how.

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Racing, sadly, is not a cheap hobby – but it sure is a fun one.  Having a big budget to finance that hobby makes it much easier to go fast, but unfortunately that’s not often the case.  More often than not it’s important to figure out how to go fast on a budget.

Like it or not, emission systems are there for a reason. This straight through pipe may increase power, but it also might not work on newer systems with rigorous emission systems.

Winning races without spending money on performance upgrades is really tough (but not impossible) to do, which is unfortunate for drivers with passion or talent but very limited funds. True, sponsorships can ease the costs, but sponsorship usually comes with wins and wins come with speed, creating a vicious circle. The key to breaking the circle is knowing how to go faster with limited resources – while keeping it legal, of course. And this really is possible.

Whether it’s enhancing the performance of a newer vehicle with an aggressive emission control system, improving the speed of a pre-emission classic vehicle, getting the most from a race car for a certain division or class, or just tweaking any vehicle that would be more fun to drive if it were quicker, there definitely are ways to go fast even when money is a concern. It’s tough to make up for limited racing talent but there are a few tricks to make up for limited racing funds. It really is possible to make a vehicle go faster and make the most of what you’ve got even if you’re on a budget. Here’s how.

Reduce Resistance
In the olden days, it was easy to install performance parts onto any vehicle with minimal problems during the installation process and notice a definite improvement in speed and performance afterwards. That’s just not true anymore. While it’s still possible and relatively easy to install performance enhancing parts on older units, modern vehicles have incredibly sensitive fuel and emission control systems that don’t play nicely with certain performance upgrades. So then the challenge on these newer vehicles becomes going faster and keeping that speed up without offending the sensors or altering the emissions controls and, of course, without going broke in the process. No problem.

There`s lots of ways to go fast but if you’re limited by a small budget spend the money where it matters the most.

One way of doing this, cheaply, is by reducing the amount of power it takes to actually move the vehicle by lowering its resistance as it rolls down the road or track.

A good way to start is by aligning all four wheels to match driving conditions. If you’re going fast on straightaways, make sure the wheels are properly aligned so that the wheels aren’t dragging as they roll down the road. If you’re going to be racing on an oval, consider setting up the alignment – in particular the thrust line – to match the angle of the track. If you have access to an alignment machine this can be done at minimal cost.

If clearance is a problem when driving on to the alignment machine one way to get a lowered vehicle safely onto an alignment rack is by putting long wooden planks by the ramp. I used to keep eight-foot-long planks handy to place in front of the alignment machine’s drive-on ramps to raise the car’s front end up enough to drive onto the hoist without contacting it – cheap and it worked well.

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