It has long been known that a car's power-to-weight ratio is a good indicator of how a vehicle will perform at the track. As a standard rule of thumb in drag racing, a one-hundred-pound decrease in weight will shave approximately 1/10 of one second from a car's elapsed time in the quarter-mile. Since a tenth of a second is approximately equal to one car length, it makes sense to make your car as light as possible if performance is your goal. Because performance is definitely the goal of our Barracuda project car, and since we added the weight of a rollcage, frame connectors, and torque boxes, we'll show you how we lightened it back up by removing unnecessary equipment, replacing the glass windows with lightweight polycarbonate, and adding fiberglass body components.
Lightening a race car, or street car for that matter, always involves walking the line between safety, structural integrity, and weight. When building a car for the track like we are, a rollcage is mandated by both the NHRA sanctioning body and common sense. If we want to be safe and run on sanctioned tracks, we must install a legal rollcage in our car. Since we're installing a fairly powerful big-block in our A-body, we deemed it necessary to add frame connectors and torque boxes as well. With all this extra steel, we'd be hard pressed to get the weight of our Barracuda below its factory shipping weight, but we can fairly easily negate the weight we added by lightening the remainder of the car. A good place to start this lightening process is by removing any unneeded equipment from the vehicle.
Since our Barracuda will only see time at the track, we won't need the luxuries of windshield wipers or a heater, so those items and their associated hardware will be removed. Additionally, we'll be removing the glass side windows, so the window regulators and a significant portion of the inner door metal can be cut away. Since we'll be using a lightweight fuel cell located in the trunk, the heavy factory fuel tank will also be discarded. If you really want to get carried away, lightening holes can be drilled in any nonstructural parts of the car. This process is labor intensive, and is really only justifiable when building a truly dedicated race car that needs to be as light as possible. Since our car is a bracket racer, we won't go to this extreme.