Photos Courtesy of AFCO and NMCA/Fastest Street Car
Although the drag racing landscape can be a picture of consistency in some classes and tracks, the increased counts of small-tire flyers and the big power they bring is hard to ignore. The radial-tire package is also present in the mix, and the resulting combination requires a different chassis set-up than a big tire or slick-equipped ride. Enter Afco shocks and the company’s Big Gun shocks and struts, one of the latest lines from a company with 35 years of experience.
“We wanted to introduce the Afco brand into the drag racing world back in the mid-1990s,” said Eric Saffell of Afco. “We spent all of 1996 testing shocks, and after a lot of success that included both NHRA and IHRA record runs, we launched our first drag racing line in 1997.” The Super Stock, Stock, and bracket-racing segments took to Afco shocks like a duck to water, but just over a decade into the world of straight-line acceleration, the landscape changed.
“Radial-tire racing was bringing more inquires to our door,” said Saffell. “We did some research, and determined the current valving wasn’t aggressive enough to handle those applications. Some of it was due to power adders, as well as the different track prep needed for the smaller tire. Working with racers, we developed the valving needed to handle those requirements.” The Big Gun line was born.
To get a new shock application sorted out involves several factors. “You want to understand the velocity the shock is operating at,” Saffell admitted. “When you dyno an engine, you want to do it in the correct operating range. Data we collect with onboard sensors during a pass tells us what the shocks are doing. We download the data into our shock dyno, and the dyno will run a shock in our lab as it went down the drag strip.” This allows everything from the launch, to a gear change, or even a bump or transition in the track surface, to be viewed and analyzed. “Once you understand what the shock is actually doing on a run, you can make refinements and fine tune,” said Saffell.
The resulting Big Gun is not only available in both shocks and struts, but the Big Gun valving can be done as an upgrade to other Afco brand shocks. “We built the Big Gun line to capture as many racers as we can,” said Saffell. “The twin-tube shock is the workhorse of our line, and being a low-pressure gas shock allows it to be run at angles or even a horizontal position without the risk of cavitation.” It also features the largest range of adjustments for both compression and extension settings on the market. “That adjustment range allows racers to find the sweet spot for their car,” said Saffell. “From full soft to full stiff, we provide the user a consistent change on each click, making adjustments more precise and less of a guess.” Combined with shocks being both rebuildable and revalvable, as well as a variety of mounting options, this US-made shock could last as long as your ride.