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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: How To Hook and Launch

It's not what it seems....

How to Hook and Launch: Traction Mods for Street & Strip
Dick Miller

There are times when I wonder how I ended up reviewing the books I review.  This book is on a subject I shall never pursue; I have enough trouble remembering to get the oil changed on our cars.....

How To Hook and Launch: Traction Mods for Street & Strip, written by Dick Miller, is a very specialized book for the drag racing enthusiast.  The term ‘hook and launch’ describes the process by which a car starts from a standstill with optimal traction (hook)   translating into maximal forward motion (launch).  The better the car can ‘hook’ into the ground, the faster it will ‘launch’ down the drag strip to victory.

While it sounds rather simple, Mr. Miller explains that the physics behind drag racing is extremely complex, and that it can have a tremendous impact on the end result.  He includes pictures which graphically support his writing.  For example, he shows how not compensating for all the various forces at work in the car - from the engine to the driveshaft and rear axle - can nearly roll a car as it accelerates. He also has some impressive pictures of cars which had enough traction but not enough forward compensation to keep their front ends from rising too high. One Mustang looks as if it were about to flip over!

I like pictures.

The majority of this book addresses modifications necessary to the suspension and tires.  In the latter portion of the book, Mr. Miller discusses other components of the automobile which can be adjusted or augmented in order to increase the chance of victory. Miller is quite outspoken about what he prefers, but he does write with forty years of experience in this field. As he explains in the book, he has basically used the same kind of automobile for all those years, and has tried a lot of different parts in the quest for more speed with control.  Forty years experience is something I would not scoff at. 

This book made me realize just how much there is to an automobile that I don't understand. After a while, I concluded that this book is a lot like any medical textbook, where if one does not understand the terminology, it is very difficult to appreciate what the author is saying. But this book was not written for folks like myself who have enough trouble remembering to get the oil changed on our cars regularly.  I would recommend this book for the serious drag racer who wants to win.   

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