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Land Speed STi Suspension: We are going to try keeping the shiny side up.
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Land Speed racing is a unique motorsport, different factors need to be taken into consideration when setting up a be stable on the salt. A car’s suspension has a natural frequency, this is basically how the car oscillates after hitting a bump. Lower frequencies are more comfortable but allow the car to move up and down more, like your Grandpa’s Buick. Higher frequencies keep the oscillation down to a minimum allowing the suspension to react faster, but this makes for a rougher/harsher ride that Grandpa will hate it.
Your car's springs are what determines its frequency and how it reacts to bumps. Stiffer springs produce higher frequencies, while softer springs produce lower frequencies. The stiffness of a spring is measured by applying the force needed to compress the spring over a specific distance, this is called Spring Rate. keep your car shiny side up. So in a nutshell we are running stiffer suspension to keep our car horizontal.
In general softer springs (lower spring rates) usually provide better traction. However the faster you are moving, the faster you need the suspension to react to bumps and dips. Stiffer springs (higher spring rates) increase the suspension’s speed and reduces the distance it travels after hitting a bump. This helps to keep the tires in contact with the ground and the body of the car from bucking and diving. For all this to work right, the springs need to be paired with the right damper(shock absorber).
A damper that is too soft for the spring won’t slow the suspension movement enough, allowing the car to continue bouncing up and down after a bump. Too hard and the damper slows the suspension movement so much that the spring can’t compress fast enough. Because of this it is very important that a damper is properly paired to the spring. What does all this mean for the Land Speed Project? In general the Bonneville Salt Flats are pretty smooth all things considered, but when you start getting into triple digit on a layer of salt it becomes very important to keep your car shiny side up. So in a nutshell we are running stiffer suspension to keep our car horizontal.
Because of the car’s age and how we want it to perform, we are basically replacing/rebuilding the whole suspension system from the ground up. Or more accurately from the subframes down. These are the foundations that the car’s suspension and steering are built on. Since the car came with an NA 2.2 liter we replaced the original front subframe with a new one made for a turbocharged Impreza. In the back we stripped, sanded, and repainted the original rear subframe.
While we had the suspension completely disassembled we wanted to replace all the old worn out parts we could. Instead of using the same soft rubbery bushings Subaru originally used to make the car comfortable enough for your Grandpa, we wanted to upgrade to high performance polyurethane bushings. Not only is polyurethane more durable it’s not as “squishy”, this reduces deformation helping retain proper suspension geometry under load.
So we reached out to our good friends at Whiteline to help us reassemble the suspension using some of their polyurethane bushings and maybe some of their other high performance suspension components. As soon as they found out what we were doing they not only sent us every part they make for the car, they wanted to help us even more by becoming the Land Speed Project’s main sponsor. So Big Shout Out to Whiteline for all their support!
The loot crate Whiteline dropped on us was massive. Along with all of their bushings, they threw in adjustable swaybars, but for what we are doing it might be more accurate to call them “anti-rollbars“. These are basically flat springs that connect the left and right side of suspension helping to keep the car stable while cornering. It does this by offsetting weight transfer from the outside wheels. This is great in the twisties, but on the salt they really do earn the name “Anti-rollbars”. By distributing weight in a slide/spin they help prevent the car’s body from rolling towards the leading side of the slide. Putting more weight on the outside tires increases the likelihood of them digging into the salt, sending the car into a high speed barrel roll.
We received Whiteline endlinks, adjustable control arms, and a roll center/bump steer correction kit. Not only are all these parts super durable they help keep proper suspension geometry. To improve aerodynamics we need to drop the car down as much as we can. Lowering a car changes its suspension angles, the roll center/bump steer correction kit helps line everything back up. We are using the adjustable control arms to fine tune the car’s alignment which is crucial at high speeds. Another benefit of shiny new parts is that they will hold up better in highly corrosive environments like salt flats.
Last but not least was the biggest surprise of them all, and way more than we could have hoped for, a set of limited edition Whiteline MAXG Coilovers… Height adjustable, damping adjustable, and inverted monotubes that make them extremely strong. The extra durability also helps keep proper suspension geometry while turning and braking.