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Racer Lingo Explained Part: 1

                                                                                 By Steve Grosekemper

If you spend enough time at the various PCA events you will eventually hear a multitude of new words that may not be in your daily vocabulary. These are words used by racers and bench racers alike. They are best described as racer lingo, or “Porschese.”

You may hear words like apex, heel and toe, corner balance and bump steer. It is my goal to explain this sometimes foreign tongue and convert it into plain English.

Bump steer is one of the few terms which is actually what it says, (unlike heel& toe). If you hit a bump, the car steers to one side. On early Porsches such as 356’s the tie rod ends were of two very different lengths. (See figure #1)

Figure #1

They were installed in the car at an angle. When the car hit a bump and lowered,   the short tie rod would straighten more than the long one. This would increase the amount of toe the car would see on the short tie rod side, causing   the car to steer to the right when it hit a bump.

Later on, when the 911 was introduced this problem was addressed by using rack and pinion steering with equal length tie rods. In these cars the tie rods were parallel with the ground and caused very little toe change as the car went through bumps. (See figure #2)

Figure #2

As time went on people discovered that if you lowered a 911 it would handle much better. However this caused yet another problem. The tie rods were now at such an angle that a bump in the road would cause excessive toe change. (See figure #3)

Figure #3

While this problem would not cause the car to pull to one side or another it did create a very darty feeling.

The cure for this problem was to install spacers between the steering rack and the front suspension member to raise the steering rack. This levels out the angled tie rods causing less toe change. This is what is done when someone is said to “set the bump steer.”

Good Luck