Race and Rally Car Source Book: The Guide to Building

Race and Rally Car Source Book: The Guide to Building or Modifying a Competition Car

Race and Rally Car Source Book: The Guide to Building or Modifying a Competition Car
4 Stars (4/5) by 
Book Category: Whole Car (Design)
Ranked: #5 of 6 in Whole Car (Design)
Applies Only to Race Car Types:
  • All
Topics Covered and Levels:
  • Dynamics/Handling ( Basic)
  • Dynamics/Handling ( Advanced)
  • Chassis ( Basic)
  • Chassis ( Advanced)
  • Suspension ( Basic)
  • Suspension ( Advanced)
  • Powertrain ( Basic)
  • Powertrain ( Advanced)
  • Aerodynamics ( Basic)
  • Aerodynamics ( Advanced)
  • Safety/Ergo/Interior ( Basic)
  • Safety/Ergo/Interior ( Advanced)
  • Materials/Fabrication ( Basic)
  • Materials/Fabrication ( Advanced)
  • Fasteners/Joining ( Basic)
  • Fasteners/Joining ( Advanced)


Providing useful tips and advice for race car designers, especially those designing small scratch-built spaceframe cars, the Race and Rally Car source book offers one of the most unique collections of information available.   Written by Allan Staniforth, the book includes practical information and his experiences on a variety of race car design/construction aspects.

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By Matt Gartner

The best way to describe Allan Staniforth's book "Race And Rally Car Source Book" is that it is advice for amateur race car design and construction. Its tight, 3-column layout is filled with page after page of race car design and construction techniques, observations and tips.

The author walks through his experience and philosophy for race car design and in doing so gives suggestions and data on many different car parameters and components. For example, while discussing basic car design parameters, he provides a table that shows the wheelbase (wb), trackwidth (tw) and the wb/tw ratio for of over 20 different cars, from a sprint kart to F1 to Road cars. It's great to have this kind of data compiled in one place to use when deciding on what wheelbase, trackwidth and wb/tw ratio might best suit your own design.

Some of the ideas in this book jump out at you. The "String computer", a method of simulating suspension motion using strings and templates, was created before there was any personal computer software (that I know of) available, but is still a decent option for those who prefer to design "hands-on". Other examples of ideas discussed in the book include amateur monocoque design and rubber suspension.

The Race and Rally Car Source Book is most appropriate for someone who understands the fundamentals of race car handling and design and is about to embark on designing their own car. You don't have to be experienced as this book provides the author's experience and ideas. But you will need to understand the fundamentals to appreciate the author's advice.

It is primarily written with scratch-built, spaceframe vehicle designs in mind, but much of the advice can be applied universally to donor and scratch-built cars. It also looks at monocoque design.

Table of Contents from "Race and Rally Car Sourcebook" by Allan Staniforth


Author's Preface &Setting-up a car796. Two Case Histories - the
Acknowledgements5Corner weights80conception, building and
Testing82development of the
1. You Have To StartRubber suspension83Gould-Terrapin & Megapin 5202
Somewhere...7Ackermann angle87
The Balsa Model104. Aerodynamics887. The Anatomy of a Racing
Costing; Accidents;What wing to choose?92Team - Williams222
Looking ahead11The coming of the "Wing
Car"; D.I.Y. flow checks,94Appendices227
2. What, Why, When ...The NACA duct94
and some of the How13Duct calculations981. Tools & Useful Materials228
Weld or braze?14Wings, pods &
The monocoque car15undersides992. General Data & Conversions229
Design criteria21More D.I.Y. research103Comparative material
Fitting everything in22Drag, speed & power103weights229
Safety harness23Single section timing110Metal sheet comparisons,
Wishbone/links24Multi-section timing;111lb wt/sq ft230
Bulkheads; Nuts, bolts &Performance graphs115Imperial Standard Wire
Dzus25G-forces at Prescott115Gauge equivalents230
Getting started26Wheels & Tyres119Steel and light alloys: specs
The little things27and uses230
Using the rollcage285. Trailblazers129Liquids: Various data231
Analysis of your "BestIntroduction129General conversion table231
Buy"29Rally: SAAB 96 (1960-Miscellaneous other
Remote controls; Fuel62)131equivalents233
" tanks30Rally: Mini (1963)133Some comparisons in
Honeycomb, carbon fibre &Rally: Ford Escorttypical tube233
the future31(1971-78)135A guide to torque wrench
Improving YOU39Rally: Lancia Stratossettings233
Brakes40(1971-78)138Formulae for calculating
Limited slip & lockingRally: Audi Quattro (1982)144mph per 1000rpm for any
differentials41Rally: Peugeot 205overall gear ratio233
The five-link axle;42(1984-92)1443. Guide to Spherical Rod End
Narrowing a solidF.750: Simplicity (1949-53)150joints235
axle; StrengtheningF.750: Forrest (1961)154
a solid axle42F.750: Tristesse (1965)1564. Tyres236
Gear ratios; Electrics43F.750: Warren/ReliantDunlop237
3. Suspension & Steering -F.750: Omag 2/Reliant162Goodyear239
the heart of the matter?47F.750: Marrow and DarviMichelin239
Solid "suspension"47(1989-92)166M & H240
String - and other -Formula Ford - "EntranceYokohama240
computers49to the arena"171Hoosier240
Targets54F1: Vanwall (1958)179
Bump-steer57F1: Cooper T51 (1959)1815. Effects of inclining coil spring
Steering alterations59F1: Lotus 25 (1962-63)184suspension units241
Suspension frequencies64F1: Brabham BT26 (1968)186
Push/pullrod suspension65F1: Tyrrell P34 -6. Establishing C of G position243
Choosing coil/damper6-wheeler (1976)189
sizes70F1: Lotus 78 (1977)1937. Damper evolution246
Anti-roll (sway) bars76F1: Brabham BT46/B
Rising rate suspension78"Fan Car"196Index247

Book Sections

The book contains the following sections:


The book begins with the introductory chapters "You Have To Start Somewhere" and "What, Why, When and some of the How". They are composed of a variety of topics that the author felt were of importance in the construction of a small race car. He looks at both spaceframe and monocoque chassis in this book.

General topics covered include balsa models, costing, welding vs brazing, monocoque car, design criteria, and the placement of components—These are not detailed sections, but rather commentary and the author's knowledge and experience on these topics.

Following these initial topics, the author discusses several component aspects including safety harnesses, wishbones/links design and construction, remote controls, composite materials, brakes, differentials, axles and more. There are some real gems of wisdom included in these topics that will benefit anyone building their own chassis. Aspects like part selection, longevity, crash energy impact absorption and the like are discussed.


The next section discusses suspension design, including the author's own innovation the "String computer". If you can imagine replacing the wishbones/links with strings and templates instead of doing everything with math formulas or computer software, then you have the idea. It is a practical hands-on way to see and play around with suspension design parameters.

The book also includes other suspension topics such as bump steer, making alterations to steering racks, push and pull rod layouts for spring/damper actuation, spring/damper sizing and linkage ratios. There is a sway bar design section with diagram and formula.

Just like the introductory section, these are useful bits of information to consider when designing your own suspension and there are plenty of diagrams and charts to help explain things. Some topics even go into areas that no other book I've seen considers—for instance the "Rubber suspension" and "solid suspension".


This section, like the previous ones, is filled with practical advice, but in this case on aerodynamics. The author discusses wing design criteria, some basic aero theory, and DIY flow testing.

There is a nice NACA duct design section that provides a diagram and formulas for designing your own NACA ducts. The car underside and sidepods are also discussed as well as aero performance testing.


There is a section on wheels and tyres (Strangely in the aerodynamics chapter, but that makes no difference), which offers some useful advice on wheel selection criteria and on tire characteristics. A portion of this section is about specific tire brands and treads which of course change over time and are potentially obsolete since the book's original publishing date.


The book devotes a considerable number of pages to discussing cars that were notable for their time and some of the design attributes that made them stand out. For anyone designing their own car, this kind of information can be very useful for stimulating the possibilities in their own designs.

An area this section really stands out in is the number of cars from the "Formula 750" or "750 MC" that are discussed. These are innovative amateur cars built in the UK which parallel much of what current small motorcycle-powered race car series are doing. If nothing else, this section will give the reader an appreciation of the innovation found in many of these historic cars.

Author's Car Case studies

In this section, the author discusses the design and construction of his and other scratch-built cars, both spaceframe and monocoque based. His assessment of each type includes technical insights, challenges, practical advice and anecdotes like this:

[blockquote]A warm relationship with his local supermarket manager had gained permission for simple standing start testing in the car park after the shop had shut, invaluable in the long struggle for instant pick-up with a turbo. One summer evening, touching full boost, the whole collector box and inlet system exploded with such ferocity, that it was immediately reported by several locals as a bomb. Very shortly the law..[/blockquote]

This section also includes two designs for rod end adjustability on wishbones, which is useful in setting up a car.

The Anatomy of a Racing Team - Williams

A sidebar type chapter, this one talks about some of the goings on inside the Williams F1 team up to and including the active suspension period. It is interesting reading, but not of particular technical value to the DIY race car designer.


In this section the author provides some useful lists and data tables to help designers and builders.

There is a list of tools and materials that are recommended for the builder of the spaceframe/monocoque cars the author predominantly talks about.

There are various tables of data and conversions as well, which unlike many books, are actually useful. For instance, there is a table for the weight of various metals and other non-metallic materials to help designers compare weights in their designs. There is also a table of weights for sheet metal of different metal types and gauges, again useful for estimating weight in a design.

Steel and aluminum alloy specifications are given for the most common types of alloys used in race car construction (1020 steel to 4130 chromoly to 7075 aluminum) and a handy chart is also included that shows different tube shapes and sections and their strengths relative to each other.

The recommendation of spherical rod ends is given some treatment with specific brands and models mentioned. Although potentially out-of-date, most parts suppliers can provide cross-referenced equivalents.

A design section for inclined coil springs in a suspension is given a decent treatment. It includes a chart, formulas and information to help calculate the effect of the inclination for anyone putting the coil springs/dampers outboard on their cars.

Two final pages discuss the evolution of damper (shock absorbers) technology and the impacts on DIY car designers/builders.

Page from "Race and Rally Car Sourcebook" by Allan Staniforth
Driver Position

Helpfulness to amateur race car designers

The true value of this book is in the experience and lessons conveyed by the author—pitfalls, best practices, interesting ideas (e.g. rubber suspension, suspensionless cars) and racing and building experiences. For someone looking to refine their design or study a successful designer's advice, this book has a great deal of value.