Over the last decade and change, our sport has witnessed an incredible progression of technology in every facet of race car design that’s not only delivered previously unimaginable levels of performance, but innovative new measures to control and harness this newfound horsepower to get it down the race track. But producing and even managing power and torque are only half of the equation in drag racing, as one can only perform to the level that the racing surface will allow. Fortunately, just as the cars have evolved, so too have the processes for preparing and studying racing surfaces and their unique and ever-changing characteristics.
For track operators, prep has become less of a basic necessity and more of an exacting science, and for race teams, understanding every inch of the surface better than the competition is perhaps the difference between winning and losing. Gone are the days where one can simply walk the track, rub their shoe in the groove and know which knobs and dials to turn. Like engines, boost controllers, traction control devices, and even tires, technology is front and center in the decision-making process of any good crew chief, and in addition to track specialists armed with all sorts of devices and a database of information in their pocket, one tool that you’ll find in the arsenal of the majority of the sport’s top teams today is a device known simply as the Track Meter.
The brainchild of longtime drag racer Larry Wolyniec, the Track Meter was devised as a means for accurately measuring the “bite” of a track surface, providing quantifiable data to race teams in a way that never existed prior to it’s creation. We recently got our hands on a Track Meter to utilize in the racing exploits of our Street Outlaw Camaro, Project BlownZ, to help us better understand the surfaces we’re trying to put the power down to. In this piece, we’ll gain some insight from Wolyniec about the invention of and purpose of the Track Meter, share with you some example track data, and even hear a few words from those that rely on this one-of-a kind device.
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