Due to time constraints, we opted to forego fabricating a traditional Baja-style front bumper, so no nerfing anyone in this race. We went instead with a very burly lightbar from HRC, to which we mounted our four 8-inch La Paz HID lights from Baja Designs. We also picked up six of the smaller, but still very bright, Fuego HID lights, two of which were used to replace the stock foglights with the other four sunk into the front bumper.
So now the truck was ready to roll - time to turn hypothesis into theory and theory into a finish line!
Next month join KORE's Team Desert Assault for Hemi R&D at the Baja 500.
Big, sick reservoirs for big, sick shocks.
Years ago, when you looked into the wheel house of old-school race trucks, you could count on seeing a cluster of two to four small shocks between the wheels and the frame. Nowadays you usually see a shock to carry the coils and a shock to take the hits. On modern race trucks, it might be only one working shock - but she's a big shock. These massive shocks are 3 to 4 inches in diameter - serious dampers that carry a ton of oil, contain huge pistons, and develop tremendous amounts of hydraulic force.
So why the global shift from lots of small shocks to one big shock? Some of it comes down to technology. In the golden era of Baja racing, you saw the legends racing on a cluster of off-the-shelf yellow or white twin-tube shocks. Because they would fade and blow seals halfway through the race, these shocks often did little to isolate Parnelli from the "24-hour plane crash." Triple and quadruple redundancy was critical. Modern seal and bearing design has made racing shocks much more reliable performers. Unless the setup is incorrect, good shocks usually don't fail during races.
Most race trucks and cars are designed around the suspension. It's much easier to design a frame around one big shock versus four smaller shocks. At each wheel you only have two pivot points to worry about instead of eight. It also makes tuning a heck of a lot easier and more precise when you only have to adjust the valving or twist the tubes on one shock instead of four.
When designing the suspension on the KORE Hemi, we were very cognizant of the fact that it's easy to "over-shock" a race truck. You have to consider motion ratio, spring rate, wheel travel, gross weight, and speed. Too small a shock and you'll develop too much heat too quickly and damping will go away. Too large a shock and the suspension will feel sluggish and noncompliant, the tendency being to pack and tug on the rebound stroke, no matter how light the valving and how open the tubes.
The ninth level of Dante's Inferno: electrical Hades.
Stock Full rules require stock suspension and steering parts as well as retention of all stock pivot points. The maximum wheel travel available is roughly 10 inches - not a whole lot considering the heinous nature of modern Baja racecourses. What used to be washboard 20 years ago has been pounded by 700hp Trophy Trucks and Unlimited Class 1 buggies into long sections of relentless 4-foot whoops. We needed a lot of shock in the front to tackle this kind of terrain. For us, the choice was clear: the massive Fox 4.3 - the biggest shock on the market.
Aside from their physically intimidating size, these shocks have some very innovative features. The first thing I like about these shocks is the fact that you can get them with a lot of bypass tubes - standard is three for compression and two for rebound. Aside from precise compression-tuning possibilities, having two rebound tubes allows you to run a physically heavier rebound stack, then open the shorter tube up more than the longer tube. It keeps the wheels loose and responsive in the midstroke while providing a little "hang-up" at full bump and a hydraulic "top-out" at full droop. And the giant size makes all the difference. Approaching full bump, these shocks generate so much force it's almost impossible to bottom the truck, except on stuff that knocks the wind out of codrivers.