In a race like King of The Hammers, a lot has to happen for a winning day. What many don't realize is how important the little things are... you know, those things that most of us never pay a thought to. We recently spent some time in the shop with past King, Jason Scherer, and his crew chief Ben Ratto, talking to them about how the little things can make or break a race. “There really are so many little things… spare belts and the tools to change them, oil should you roll over, camelbacks for water, taping food to the dash to keep you sharp…the list goes on and on…..” quips Jason. Many of the following items aren't what the normal race conversation would include, some are things the Rage4th team has kept discrete, but they're "letting the cat of the bag" for our DrivingLine audience about some small, but rather important details, he and the team have added to "The Gavel" for KOH and the upcoming 2015 Ultra4 racing season.
"O-Rings are pretty self explanatory, but in the event you lose an inner axle seal, if you run the o-ring on the hub, the gear oil for the rear-end stays in the housing and doesn’t just pour out onto your brakes," states Scherer. With the O-ring in place you are basically minimizing the collateral damage.
Top Secret Sway Bars
"The tech behind it," says Scherer, "was that we are all running such high sway bar rates to help the cornering that the car has started to give you head shake on the cross grain ruts and nuisance rocks. By giving a little controlled free play to the bar through this new device, it smoothens out the car on the little stuff but performs almost the same on the larger undulations." Essentially giving you an "on the fly" adjustable sway bar. Could Mr. Scherer be onto to something revolutionary here?
Being the driver of a single seater, choosing the right mirror is as important as choosing the right co-driver. "The Mirror (being the actual name) is just one of those creature comforts that’s nice to have when backing up in the rocks or to see where your rear tire is, now that we are so secure in the car with the head and neck restraints. It’s also in the rules. However I was to the point of buying the stick on auto parts store versions because they didn’t last a race. John Reynolds fixed that with "The Mirror"... I love seeing really well designed parts become reality. Very cool."
“The hub pilot is something that really compliments the Spidertrax Ultimate Unit bearing. Spidertrax really solved the weak link we had on the 4WD IFS cars when they built the Ultimate Unit Bearing. Before that we ran the F350/F450 style hubs and replaced them almost every event, if they lasted that long. We noticed that the new hub had a smaller flange and doing a tire swap was actually pretty difficult as the lip of the hub was behind the lug nuts so you had to get all the lugs lined up to install the wheel assembly that was approaching 150 lbs. 74 Weld fashioned up a complimentary system to add the flange and make tire changes a snap.” Not to mention, time is of the essence.
Fabricated Seat Bracket
“I wanted to sit down really low in the car for the short course racing to keep the center of gravity as low as possible, but one trip to the Hammers testing the car made it apparent that I couldn’t see well in the rocks. Luckily the roof height was plentiful and I was able move the seat up 4” and still maintain the safety aspect. Additionally this requires slight adjustment of the belts, brake pedal and shifter, but now we can interchange the bracket and race either type of race with just a small change.” This alone just goes to show you the innovation turning the gears of Scherer's mind.
Once again Jason and his crew are thinking well into the future and always scheming up some functional schematics in the race scene. As we all know, to have a successful race team, “communication” is key. This also means putting up with the nuisance of people bleeding over, doing radio checks, stomping on each other, etc. Or does it? Being a fan of Nascar, and to help “clear” things up, Jason wanted to further investigate a "digital" radio system and went to the guys at Rugged Radios. "Digital radios send out decoded packets", explains crew chief Ben Ratto. "Only another digital radio can decode that signal. With an "analog" system, you have 50 other racers stepping on you, being the signals are only a few megahertz within one another. Same with the digital, however, they send small packets of information. The result… a crisp clear signal. Rugged came to the shop to tune in the radio and struck a deal with the team. Used first at Glen Helen, it was a night and day difference with zero helmet noise. There is a cost issue, it’s about three times more than a standard analog system. For short course races, it’s perfect. For KOH, we can only use 50 watts. Jumping into the 100 watt would mean jumping into a range of thousands of dollars for a single radio." Confident with their current stategy of a 50 watts radios combined with proper placement - they'll just need to work on getting used to a slight delay time in talking and receiving.
There is a lot more details that Jason and the Rage4th crew pay close attention to between every race, but I didn't have 3 weeks to spend in Jason's shop going over the list! Nor did Jason want to give away all his secrets.
We'll all be watching as he takes the green flag from pole position during the 2015 Nitto King of The Hammers presented by 4 Wheel Parts, but if it were my bet, when Jason talks about the little things, and listen big. Follow along live at LiveatKOH.com!