×

Sale ends todayGet 30% off any course (excluding packages)

Ends in --- --- ---

Book club, anyone?

General Car Setup Discussion

Forum Posts

Courses

Blog

Tech Articles

= Resolved threads

Author
830 Views

On the topic of chassis design and setup, good, detailed information is difficult to come by. Many of the books out there are little more than topical magazine articles. Therefor, I thought it might be nice if we all shared books and other resources we found helpful and gave brief descriptions of them. I'll start with some of my favorites that I've acquired.

"Tune to Win" by Carroll Smith - I really like this one. It's a pretty deep dive into vehicle dynamics, so probably not a good first chassis related resource. However, it's not getting into the minutia of a college level engineering text, and the author's writing style makes him easy to follow. I've been told Carroll Smith's entire "To Win" series is required reading, and based on this book I'm inclined to believe it. They're all pretty affordable too.

"Engineer in your Pocket" by Carroll Smith - great little handbook that presents numerous chassis tuning problems and their solutions. Concise, compact, and excellent.

"Auto Math Handbook" by John Lawlor and Bill Hancock - A collection of mathematical formulae you'll commonly use in automotive disciplines, with plenty of worked examples. I like it quite a bit and it's cheap. I found it helpful when I did my first engine balancing job.

"Racing & Sports Car Chassis Design" by Michael Costin and David Phipps - This one is awesome. It was published in the early 60s, so of course some information will be outdated (particularly where tyres are concerned). However, if you're interested designing cars with tubular steel construction and keep that cavaet in mind, this book was written when that technology was reaching a high water mark in motorsports. It's very detailed, and includes great photos and illustrations of various suspension types with their travel. The authors also go into their order of operations when designing a car, provide a layout template for vehicle components referenced to a datum, and three appendices for stress calculations, materials, and suspension calculations.

And then there's this series from the University of California at Irvine - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIKHocge9Sc

Thanks in advance for sharing your resources, and thanks RaceCraft for creating great content and joining these ranks!

Attached Files

Yup, anything by Carroll Smith is an essential - he has a very entertaining way of conveying what he wants to say while still maintaining a no BS attitude.

Awesome. Have you read "Engineer to Win?" or "Prepare to Win?" I'm considering grabbing one of those next. I also just got the one on hardware and plumbing, and it looks promising after skimming thru it.

Are you familiar with "Race Car Dynamics" by Douglas and William Milliken?

I have both those books.

I don't have the Millikens' book, but I do know the name - they are VERY highly regarded and many consider their work to be seminal in suspension and steering engineering and design. IIRC, they had a lot of involvement in British hillclimb specials and the old 750 class racers.

My tastes tend toward engineering texts, but here goes:

The Milliken's "Race Car Vehicle Dynamics" is a great book. Definitely an engineering text and not the first book you want in your library, but I can't count the number of time I have looked to it for insight into suspension design. A superficial reading of this book is as intereresting as a deep dive, thanks to some very fine writing by the Millikens.

An autobiography by the older Milliken, "Equations of Motion" makes for very fascinating reading and an interesting look at the evolution of road vehicle and to some extent aircraft design.

Paul Haney's "The Racing and High-Performance Tire" provides a really good look at the intricacies of tires. It should be high on your list.

Warren Rowley's "Race Car Engineering, Book 1" is pretty much a waste of time because he hitches his wagon to some obsolete and unsupported software. There doesn't appear to have been a Book 2, and I can't say I am sorry about that. If you can find a used copy cheap, you will be able to extract some intereting nuggets from it, but you will learn to dislike the author (as a writer) as much as I do in the process.

Finding good books on race car aerodynamics is a challenge. I have both Simon McBeath's "Competition Car Aerodynamics" and Joseph Katz's "Race Car Aerodynamics". Together they seem like a not bad introduction to the subject but if you have a serious interest in aero, you will be left wanting more (and for that I am not sure where to look).

For data analysis, Bob Knox's "A Practical Guide to Race Car Data Analysis" is a really good start, and will likely be the only book you need on the subject.

James Walker Jr.'s "High Performance Brake Systems" is an accessible and reasonably thorough look at braking systems. Definitely worth a look if you are modifying your brake systems.

I have a fair handful of books published by HP Books ("Brake Systems, OEM & Racing Brack Technology", "Race Car Engineering and Mechanics", "Chassis Engineering", "How to Make Your Car Handle", "Turbochargers"). They all seem to be some combination of obsolete, limited and poorly written.

I have three of Carrol Smith's books (Drive to Win, Engineer to Win, and Tune to Win). I guess they are enthusiast's required reading, but they have not aged that well. They all feel like a stream of consciousness that came out half-baked. Too bad Carol couldn't have expended the energy to put an index in any of them.

Nice idea for a thread Paul.

I own and love everything by Carroll Smith! Agree with everything Gord said there.

Race Car Vehicle Dynamics by the Millikens is an excellent resource and respected industry-wide. I would say though, that it's at the heavy-going end of the spectrum so I wouldn't recommend anyone to start with this book. It is full of the bare-bones first-principles theory of most VD related systems. As a guide, I wouldn't direct anyone towards this book unless they read and understand everything from Carroll Smith and are hungry to answer more "but why" type questions. I'm looking at the copy on my desk, must be close to 2 inches thick!

Allan Staniforth's Competition Car Suspension is a quality read

I also always enjoyed Herb Adams' Chassis Engineering. I wouldn't say it's theory-heavy and it's quite an old book, but it's got some good practical stuff in there in my opinion.

I actually got Warren Rowley's book a while back, but I've only skimmed it so far. I'll keep that in mind.

Ditto on many of the HP Books. I also found "Automotive Machining" by Mike Mavrigan to be very lacking in practical value, save for the chapter on engine balancing which I found very useful when I was learning to balance. For the most part, I think it's one of those books that exists to teach customers just enough to be difficult and act like they know your job better than you. :p

I'm reading McBeath's aero book currently. So far I think it's great. I'm going to confess that I can only take so much aerodynamics or fluid dynamics at a time before needing a break, so I'm taking my time with it.

@ Tim, Chassis Engineering by Herb Adams was my first real primer, and I think it's excellent for that. Herb Adams has achieved great things in his career, and I'll always love that book.

Well fellas, I guess I'll have to pick up Milliken's book. Seems the love for it is unanimous and the price ain't bad either.

I appreciate all the suggestions so far! :)

Paul, one of the books you recommended "Racing & Sports Car Chassis Design" sounds great, I love reading this older stuff.

James, The Milliken autobiography sounds like a fascinating read.

I've bought both of these books now based on your recommendations, guys 🙌

Glad to hear you found a copy at (I hope) a reasonable price. Last I checked they had ballooned to several hundred USD. :o

Tim, at the risk of spoiling the wait, and the joy of leafing through old pages, I have found a link to a pdf of the Costin and Phipps book:

https://web.aeromech.usyd.edu.au/MECH4460/Course_Documents/Frames/Costin%20&%20Phipps.pdf

Definitely dated, but an interesting look at old-school engineering. I look forward to reading it.

Thanks for sharing that PDF, my copy is very old and feels like it's seen better days. I think it's extremely valuable if you're interested in tubular chassis design and you can sort the outdated from the relevant. And the drawings in it are splendid.

Based on your recommendation I went ahead and ordered that brake book by James Walker, Jr. Oddly enough I don't have any brake books in my library yet.

Forgive me if this isn't the place, but I think it's relevant to race car construction and repair - I really enjoyed "Sheet Metal Shaping" and "Sheet Metal Fabrication" by Ed Barr. Really well spoken and personable author who makes the tasks feel a lot less daunting.

Have either of you read "Car Aerodynamics Testing for Road and Track" by Julian Edgar?

Thanks for sharing that James. I had a flick through it now and it looks great. Part of the enjoyment will definitely be flicking through the old pages though! It's always funny to me how much technology we make use of that filters down from smart people over the years, but basic things like not putting things in bending, load paths, and avoiding single shear (all things it looks like he covers in this book) are still ignored by so many people today.

Paul, it was pretty pricey but fortunately not several hundred USD 😲 I haven't read this book by Edgar, sorry. Interested to hear from people that have though!

Abbott.Von Downhoff, "Theory of Wing" is hard... Milliken, Katz, Simon are just in the basic side of things... I have all this books on PDF, jus PM me.

I don't see an option to PM, maybe because I'm on my mobile. I'm interested in the Milliken book.

Actually there isn't an option! My bad.

Please email me to LDELAPRI at gmail

Regarding the High Performance Brake Systems book - would it be a useful resource in helping to calculate/determine the proper components for switching to a non-assisted braking system for rallying? If not, can anyone maybe recommend another book or online material on this topic?

I'm in the process of doing that for a BMW e36, and the material I've found online is, at best, conflicting at times, so while I've got a rough idea of what I need, some more theory behind this would be great - to better understand the maximum piston area, pedal ratio, and proper master cylinder sizing to have a reasonably hard brake pedal that will also let me slow down from silly speeds on gravel as quickly as possible

There is a topic on this here on the forum (https://www.racecrafthq.com/forum/general-discussion/show/brake-caliper-piston-area-vs-master-cylinder-piston-area-any-rule-of-thumb), but Gord's super-detailed answer is the first part of a longer story to cover everything needed :)

James Walker's "High-Performance Brake Systems, Design, Selection and Installation" has a good description of the process of calculating brake system gain. I found the chapter on brake system design to be very good.

Sorry, Voldermars, I didn't get back to on that.

That book should give you all the information you need - but in short, the pedal assembly and master cylinder diameters will depend on the line pressure in each circuit, which will depend on the pressure required to operate the brakes.

Looking for info on diff tuning. Have been looking long and hard but not coming up with anything. Any suggestions?

Hi Douglas, what sort of diff tuning are you interested in - for road/circuit racing or rally and offroad? I'm not sure I know of any books that cover diff tuning exclusively but may be able to recommend some references.

Tim

Thanks for the questions. This is for a road race application. All my experience is with a stock application so the amount of tuning has been limited. Mostly just preload of the pack. But, recently we have begun the process of putting a true race transaxle in our car and the makers of the trans are asking me where I want the diff to start at. The amount of options available to me is quite staggering compared to what I'm used to and the ability to completely tune the diff to each application/different track will give me tools I have never had before. So, I am looking for info so I can make an educated decision before I begin a true test plan once the car is completed. I have been asking around, but this data seems to be quite coveted as I am getting fairly vague answers to my questions that really don't help. We are buying a Sadev transaxle with the cassette diff, so we will be able to make diff changes easily. This would be would be similar to the Albins you would have used in Aussie V8.

On a side note, I have been enjoying your seminars quite a bit. They have opened my notebook to more than a few new good ideas. Thanks for all the hard work and keep them coming!

Hi Douglas, glad you're enjoying the webinars and getting some useful stuff out of them!

I know what you're saying about the number of options available to tune a proper racing diff - a lot of parameters to deal with! While the Australian V8s do have a proper racing transaxle, they also have a spool diff, so at least we didn't have to worry about that!

As for a source for some information to help you out, I flicked through a couple of the books on my desk to see how much coverage they give to the subject. After looking through those, and having a bit of a Google I was left a bit disappointed in the lack of technical discussion on this. Maybe this mean we need a course on it 😉

The two books I had at hand that I found some discussion on differentials, but more in general terms and not what you're looking for I'd say:

-Tune to Win, Chapter 13 by Carroll Smith. Not a technical discussion that will answer your questions, but most of the stuff Carroll wrote is worth reading

-Race Car Vehicle Dynamics, various discussions through a few chapters. More about the working principles, nothing much on tuning.

Ultimately the best source of information for a good starting point is Sadev themselves. After all, it's their diff! At a minimum, I would be expecting some support from them to help you spec the initial setup. If you give them some basic vehicle information as well as the intended application and the typical circuit layouts you use this should be straightforward for them.

It's also normal for a diff supplier to give you either some literature/plots that explain the power and influence range of each parameter - # of plates, order of plate stacks, preload, ramp choices. They also often give you a small spreadsheet-based tool so you can play around with the different configurations for yourself.

Sorry I couldn't give you a better source, I'm positive there will be some out there, I'll come back and update this when I come across something.

Some interesting thoughts from "Tune to Win". Carroll readily admits to not knowing much about what he calls a "clutch type locker". They apparently were new at the time and Hewland was working on it and didn't have a unit for him to test. His experience was with a "Weizmann locker". Unsure how that type worked.

So my quest continues. I have asked Sadev to provide me a group of housings with varying ramp angles and a group of pre-load springs. I will be putting together a fairly comprehensive test plan to figure this out. Going to have to do this the old fashioned way, change, test, and change again. Thankfully this transaxle has a cassette style diff so I don't have to disassemble the trans each time I want to make a change.

Thanks for letting highjack this thread guys.

Hello, here is list what i have found really helpful. They are engineering texts but with time and concentration it starts to dig in:

"The dynamics of the racecar" by Danny Nowlan. Danny have an easy to understand and fun way to tell stuff that's quite on the heavy side. Especially he's point of view in suspension geometry, and the fact that he represents "force application points". In the book is also small section about differentials and how to combine maths and common sense to address the problems of racing diff. This is a very good book to understand racecar vehicle dynamics overall.

If youre intrested in data-analysis you can't pass Jorge Segers "Analysis Techniques for Race Car Data Acquisition". This book is almost like step to step information how to gather data, what to gather and how to benefit from it.

"Performance Vehicle Dynamics. Engineering and Applications" by James Balkwill. Again, text is well written and easy to understand. Great examples (Calculations and pictures).

"Brake Design & Safety" Rudolf Limpert. Good and throughout section about brake calculations.

"Tire and Vehicle Dynamics" by Hans Pacejka. This goes very deep and fast to the theory of tire. I recommend only if you are really intrested on physics of tire or tire modeling.

"The Shock Absorber Handbook" by John C. Dixon. This is about shock absorbers, and how to design, installation and use of the shock absorber. Among the subjects

highlighted are fluid dynamics, valve characteristics, damper

characteristics, installation and motion ratios, and influence on

vehicle ride and handling.

"Physics for Gearheads: An introduction to vehicle dynamics, energy and power" by Randy Beikmann. This was the first book that i purchased when i started to get intrested in vehicle dynamics. Very easy to understand and many helpful formulas especially for hobbyist.

Also i prefer books that are already mentioned here:

- "Race car vehicle dynamics" by Milliken

- "Competition car aerodynamics" by McBeath

This is list of my private library if i need to find information about racecar design.

Best regards, Juha Riihimäki

Juha

Well that was an expensive Amazon order. I have all of my off-season reading for this winter now. Thanks for the list. Great additions.

Something I will also bring to everyone's attention: I have signed up for this:

ORD001082: Race Car Aerodynamics: the Definitive Course - JKF Courses.

Not cheap, but where else will you have direct contact with a former F1 aero guy.

So far it has been quite informative and eye-opening. will be un-doing much of my "monkey see monkey do" aero from what I learned so far.