Chassis SavvyWhile the long-block, transmission, and carb can all be claimed, the rest of the vehicle cannot. The smart racer will maximize his investment toward achieving as close to perfect traction as possible. Since all the rules are aimed at limiting power, the idea should be to put as much of it to the ground as possible. The rules also place limitations on the chassis, since ladder bars, four-links, and coilover shocks are prohibited. For leaf-spring cars, like early Camaros, Mustangs, Novas, or Mopars, the Cal-Trac or Competition Engineering Slide-A-Link bars are an excellent choice. For coil-spring cars like Chevelles or Fox-body Mustangs, adjustable tubular bars and airbags are the place to start to create an equal load on both rear tires.
Of course, the front suspension is another place where there is plenty of room for improvement. Taller front springs, soft adjustable shocks, and travel limiters are all pieces that should be a part of any competitive Cheap Street chassis upgrade. Don't forget that the alignment should be set with the front suspension at the height it will be when running down the track, not at normal ride height as with street-driven cars.
While a set of digital scales may not be in your budget, if you search around you should be able to locate a set that you can borrow or rent to at least check out front-to-rear weight bias as well as rear tire load left to right. Since the axle tries to pull the right rear tire off the ground under acceleration, preloading a given amount of weight on the right rear with the chassis at rest is always a good idea. It might require several adjustments to get this right for your particular car and can change as track conditions vary.
Building a car that is 100 pounds lighter than the minimum also gives you the flexibility to move the weight where it will do the most good. You must also consider that building a lightweight car will be more difficult when one of the first things you have to add is roughly 120 to 150 pounds of NHRA-legal 'cage (a little less if you use chrome-moly tubing) in order to have a car that can run safely into the 9-second bracket. There are already cars running in the high 9s in this class, so it only makes sense to build a car that is legal to run that quick.
Other safety requirements that you must have to run in the 9s include an external battery switch if the battery is relocated to the trunk, an up-to-date five-point-harness system properly attached to the rollbar, a window net, proper protective clothing (which changes as soon as you break into the 9s), a current Snell-approved helmet, an NHRA competition license, plus a slew of other details too cumbersome to outline here.
Suffice it to say, if you are interested in building a car to race in Cheap Street, there's much more to fielding a competitive effort than just bolting a hot small-block in your street car and welding in a rollbar. The best plan is to attend a few races, talk to as many Cheap Street competitors as you can, and get a feel for what it will take to field a car. Then start your planning process along with a list of everything you'll need and what it will cost.
You should also keep in mind the cost of getting to and from the track. You'll need a trailer, spares, a crew of competent friends to help, and a dependable tow rig. All of these things can add to the cost of going racing. This is where partnerships come into play, since even Cheap Street isn't really cheap racing. However, this should in no way be construed as putting a damper on the concept of building a Cheap Street car. Making it affordable enough to attract car crafters to compete is the prime directive for Cheap Street. After you've come up with a plan, then the only thing left to do is to get out in the garage and let fly with those wrenches. We'll see you at the track!
Pro Fastest Street Car Racing