Increasing power is just one side of the coin. Optimizing the use of that power is the other. Here are some tips to best utilize that power.
1. LEARN HOW TO DRIVE CORRECTLY
No modification to your engine or car will result in a greater performance improvement than training your self how to drive correctly. Whether it is on the drag strip or through a road course, driver skill is the most important factor between winning and losing. So practice and constantly try to improve.
2. LOSE WEIGHT
Vehicle weight hurts all areas of performance: acceleration, top speed, and handling. Replacing heavy pieces with lighter pieces or removing some pieces all together will greatly improve vehicle performance. For every 100 lbs. of weight loss, your quarter mile time will drop by 0.1 seconds.
3. INCREASE TRACTION
For maximum acceleration, traction is key. Larger diameter and wider wheels and tires will improve traction and greatly improve your launch times and thus quarter mile times. For drag strip runs, consider drag slicks to maximize traction.
4. REAR END
Also consider the rear end for maximizing traction. Adjust your suspension to ensure that the weight transfer upon launch cleanly puts the weight over the rear tires. Also, adding a differential (especially a locking one) will definitely help your launch. Performance differentials are usually in the 3.90 to 4.11:1 range.
5. BETTER AERODYNAMICS
The aerodynamics of the vehicle only comes into play at high speeds. However, for truly fast cars, the right combination of functional spoilers (front and rear), and underbody modifications that reduce the car’s drag coefficient and increase the downforce on the rear of the car will help. Note that on most street cars (going less than 125 mph +), most body pieces just add weight and increase aerodynamic drag, thereby slowing your car.
6. BETTER BRAKES
Don’t forget stopping your car. Replace your tired drum brakes with disc brakes and/or install performance brake pads. Never skimp on your brakes – they could save your life.
Unfortunately, the usual approach to increased power consisting of installing a larger cam, race manifold and carb, big tube headers, etc., will always degrade low end power, and if you are really lucky, some increase of power may occur at the upper RPM range. Unfortunately, to utilize it, you would then have to run your engine to top RPM in every gear, because low-end power will always be lost with such changes. The engine will no longer idle properly, will waste fuel, probably overheat, and generally be difficult to drive in city driving.
Also note that there is no mention of light weight rods, light weight or other types of trick pistons, super mega ignition systems, huge headers, big cams, race intake manifolds, 1000 CFM carburetors, align boring, porting or even hardened valve seats! These kinds of changes or modifications might help the performance and reliability of high RPM race engines, but are not necessary and will not help performance on stock type engines operated in the factory designed RPM range.