Southern Nationals Series promoter and Late Model racer Ray Cook caused a bit of a stir at the recent PRI Show when he announced new rules for the cars that will compete in the three series that fall under his promotion umbrella(Southern Nationals, Spring Nationals & Southern Nationals Bonus). The new rules are designed to lower cars, and thus, make them less susceptible to roll over type crashes.
During a video produced to demonstrate the tech inspection procedures cars will be put through during the races he promotes, Cook proclaimed that, “Tech has been sort of a joke over the past year-and-a-half or two years with these deck heights in the back simply because we have a lot of smart people in our industry and they have basically figured out how to manipulate the rules so their cars can get higher and higher when they pull on the race track and go down the straightaway.”
Cook went on to explain that all cars have a chain or cable that connects the rear end to the frame rail of the car that will determine how high the car will go in the back end.
“What engineers and the people who work on these cars have figured out is that the higher they get this spoiler, the faster the car goes,” Cook further explained in the video. He then went on to say that the racing held today is as good as it has ever been but the cars are turning over more often, which could lead to serious injury for the drivers.
“The purpose for this new rule we’re putting in for 2018 is simply for safety,” Cook continued. “That’s all it’s about. We’re not trying to slow the cars down. We’re not trying to take any engineering out of the race car, we’re not trying to take any shocks or springs away. All we’re trying to do is get the cars back down closer to the ground to where they’re harder to turn over.”
Cook demonstrated that a crew member standing on the rear bumper of a car for a very brief period of time would compress the rear end enough for the machine to pass a pre-race deck height inspection. He then jacked the car up to show that under racing conditions the rear deck height of a Late Model can grow to exceed 50 inches.
Cook said his series will introduce a “Droop Rule” to limit the distance between the left rear tire and the frame rail on the cars under racing conditions. The rule will be checked by jacking the rear of the car up until the left rear tire will turn and then an official will measure the deck height at that point. He stated that the deck height at that point should be 47 inches(with a half-inch variance).
Cook then removed the chain that was on the left rear of the car he was using to demonstrate and attached a slightly shorter chain. After jacking the car back up with the shorter chain, the deck height measured in at 47 inches.
Cook proclaimed that the top-3 finishers and two random cars will be measured following each of his series races.
“There’s nothing wrong with making our sport safer and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do,” Cook concluded at the end of the video.
Cook put the new rule package to the test on Thursday night at his own Tri-County Race Track in Brasstown, NC. He stated(via Twitter) that the test showed no significant drop off in speed with the shorter chain affixed to the left rear of the car.
“Just finished a test w a chain. Ran a 13 .34 normal droop limiter. Put 1 1/2 shorter chain on & ran a 13.38. Made 2 small adj & ran a 13.31” tweeted @Raycook53.
He then followed that up with, “Car was more stable & a little faster. I think it will be a non issue except the car is lower o ground and gonnaa be safer. #giveitachance”
Cook had earlier claimed on Twitter that the response he has received regarding the new rules has been largely positive.