While the Internet is a fabulous method of sharing information, the harsh reality is that any idiot can put up a web page or hang out on a forum and declare himself expert - and many, many do. In some cases, the volume of misinformation is staggering; none more so than on the topic of how to make cars go faster. Sometimes, despite the author's best intentions, stuff is just plain wrong - my own early writings contain examples of this (oi, did I actually write in 1997 that a using a turbo and nitrous together would cause an uncontrollable positive feedback loop leading to inevitable engine destruction? Yes, I did - and it's wrong.)
But many times, you'll find blatant misinformation disguised as fact through the author's sheer, bloody-minded ignorance and the willingness to proclaim it at the top of his virtual lungs. Sometimes, this misinformation is well-written and well-presented; that no more makes it truth than claiming that the moon is made of green cheese.
Be especially wary of misinformation presented by authority; where the presenter has had some degree of success and uses that success as sole evidence of the truth of their argument. Gentle reader, almost a decade of testing other people's cars - including some ProSolo Champions - has convinced me that the number of drivers who have had success in spite of their technical setup ability is much larger than you would expect. Furthermore, some of these individuals have gone on to create businesses that hinge upon their racing successes to sell parts and services - buy the championship setup! And while offered in good faith, both vendor and customer wind up wondering why the success isn't duplicated once the customer's car is completed.
I'm tempted to name names of some... save that all that would accomplish is to unnecessarily burn some bridges and wound some egos to no positive effect.
Suffice it to say that in the hands of a talented driver, any car with a reasonable amount of performance potential (and mounted on sticky tires) becomes a formidable weapon and is entirely capable of winning races, no matter how poor the setup. (The reason why will be revisited in a later chapter)
This is doubly true when the rules limit the amount of setup changes one can do to the car. It is nearly impossible to render a Stock class C5 Z06 Corvette undriveable (although many have struggled mightily to do so). I have seen a C5 Corvette equipped with a set of top-dollar Penske shocks prepared by a "name" shock rebuilder (not in the direct employ of Penske) where the valving on the front shocks had one side inverted (.e. the shimstack on one side was upside-down, such that the rebound on one side was the bump on the other) and the driver - a top-10 contender - thought the handling was only "a little odd".
Even Street Prepared cars are difficult to really screw up to the point where the car becomes completely uncompetitive. Racing drivers are remarkably flexible beasts and can quickly adapt to almost anything. In the hands of the truly talented, all but the worst dogs are capable of winning races. So one must be very careful when choosing who to listen to, because there is a very real chance that the super-successful, multi-time national champion is one of the "in spite of" guys.
My hardest-won lesson was learning to stop listening to conventional wisdom, go back to first principles, and try and test for myself. So doing made me a better engineer, made my car much faster (and easier to drive) and as a side effect, shone a glaring light on those who were technically way over their head. It was shocking to discover how many of the people I had looked to for advice really had no idea what they were talking about.
It is not lost on me that this book suffers from the same problem; the argument from authority. I have had my degree of success, and here I am writing about how to duplicate it. Given my data-based approach, I'm pretty confident that I have a handle on this stuff, but there really is no reason why my word should be taken as gospel writ. So be it. I exhort you to GO TEST IT! Take what I have to pass along, try it out, test it under scientific conditions in a properly instrumented car, and if you find out that I'm wrong about something - great! I write with the assumption that everything I have to say will be taken with extreme suspicion until proven out in your own testing and that is exactly how things should be.
Don't just take my (or anybody else's) word for it - GO TEST IT!