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Maresca Going All In With Four-Link Setup

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Published in Racing
Thursday, 22 April 2021 08:44

FONDA, N.Y. – Dirt modifieds in the northeast have gone through many transitions over the years.

From Gary Balough, who came to the Syracuse (N.Y.) Mile in 1980 with a ground effects car, to the switch from bars to coils, and even Kenny Tremont winning in a four-link Troyer in the 90s, the game has changed numerous times.

However, no change in dirt modified racing was as quick or as drastic as the sudden change from torsion bar rear-end setups to coil-over springs in the last few years.

Then in 2019 when chassis company Teo Pro Car came out with an experimental four-link chassis, similar to the one that Tremont ran years ago and started winning with. When Anthony Perrego found success with the Teo four-link setup, it caught the eye of many within the motorsports industry.

One of those who paid attention to Perrego’s success was Mike Maresca at Fonda Speedway. When Maresca and his team unloaded their car from the trailer last Saturday, it wasn’t the No. 247 he ran last year and won the championship with, it was the No. 7mm, his own car.

The new car was a fresh DKM Fabrications four-link chassis that he wanted to test out, and the early results were promising, with a third-place finish in the Fonda season opener.

When the four-link setup was run under Tremont’s care, he won the 1999 Super Dirt Week race with it, as well as others around the region. However, technology has changed since then and Maresca believes that dirt modified racing is taking cues from late models for its current technological successes.

“I think we’re starting to pay a lot more attention to what late models are doing and the way they operate,” Maresca said.  “In the 90s, I think it was a little bit different, with the way the cars rolled, the car’s attitude, shocks, springs … all that stuff is a lot different now. The cars are more up now. If you watch any normal Bicknell car, it’s up, compared to even if you watch a video from three years ago, all the cars were a lot flatter then.

“Nowadays, late models all utilize a four-link suspension and it’s the same with IMCA and UMP (modified) cars. Even though a lot of those used to run a three-link deal, sort of similar to what the standard big-block modified uses today, it’s all continued evolving,” Maresca added. “We’re paying attention to that and realize maybe there’s some potential there.”

The way that a four-link suspension feels compared to a standard bar or coil car is also different and has required some getting used to, according to Maresca.

“The whole car is a little bit faster, reacting when you go through a hole or get on the gas; everything picks up and engages quickly,” he explained. “You have to drive it a little bit differently. You hear a lot of UMP, late model, IMCA guys talk about ‘keeping the car up on the bars’ and you really have to keep the car up on the bars. You can’t completely dump out of the gas or you might have to power brake a little bit differently to keep the car up at attitude.”

There are setup tricks to help with that goal, but ultimately, it’s the driver’s responsibility to push the car, Maresca tipped.

“When you get on the gas, the car engages and rocks up. The left rear body comes up the bars on the left side and it engages the right side, where it flattens out a little bit and the car kind of goes down on the right front, similar to a regular car, but it’s a little bit more radical,” said Maresca. “If you were to dump out of the gas, the car would kind of squat flatter. We have some things to kind of counteract that in the left rear, whether it’s compression or spring. There’s mechanical to help control it, but you still have to do a little bit with the steering wheel, the gas pedal and the brakes.”

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