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“MISSING LINK”

Lawrence Link Suspension System - Article from Racecar Engineering Magazine


“The history of racecar development is littered with novel suspension ideas that were lost in the mists of time. Lawrence Link is one such idea”

Words: Charles Armstrong-Wilson
Photos: (excl.Morgan Aero 8) Anthony Butler; Graphic Images (UK)

“Back in the dark ages of motorsport, when the best way to design suspension was far from settled, many different approaches to the problem were tried. Some worked and some didn’t, but of the many solutions tried, a number worked well although, for reasons unconnected with their viability, failed to catch on. Lawrence Link suspension is one of those. It was a concept, stumbled upon through the constraints of rules and resources and which in use proved to be very effective. However, despite contributing to success on the racetrack and being bought by a major road car manufacturer, has slipped from the radar and is almost totally forgotten. That is, until last year, when two cars incorporating the principle appeared on the racing scene casting the spotlight on this lost idea once more.


Chris Lawrence, the man behind the idea, was fairly typical of many motor sport enthusiasts in the 1950s and raced his 1956 Morgan road car extensively. In 1959 he won the Freddie Dixon Trophy, an award for drivers competing nationally in marque cars and soon, as Chris recalls, “people were coming up to me saying “make my Morgan go like yours”


Chris Lawrence, designer of the
Lawrence Link suspension system
Encouraged by this, he and three colleagues from his employers - the Rotax aero engine company in Willesden, north West London - left to form their own preparation company, Lawrence Tune. While Chris’ reputation brought work from sports car owners, he had his sights set on single-seater racing. On the recommendation of a friend he decided to tackle Formula Junior and, without the money to buy a car, he set about building them. “I wanted to use the VW gearbox to put the engine in the middle,” he remembers of that first design. “That came with swing axles though so I thought I’ll have the front crossmember as well - it was a convenient piece to weld tubes onto. That was my Formula Junior, with VW trailing arm front suspension and swing axle back. I did twig pretty quickly how to stop them tucking under.” His simple design seemed quick enough in a straight line during the 1960 season, but the two cars he built lost out badly to the opposition around corners due to excessive camber change in roll.

“Duckworth said, 'You’ll never get anywhere like that Chris, you’ve got to cheat like all the rest of them”

This was taxing his mind early one morning when he was waiting outside a Ford dealership with Keith Duckworth, the Cosworth founder, to collect some of the early Ford 105E engines that were proving competitive in racing. The rules demanded the cars used a road car derived drivetrain and suspension which Lawrence had duly complied with. But Duckworth said: You’ll never get anywhere like that Chris, you’ve got to cheat like all the rest of them. Build a proper racing car like Elva, Cooper and Lotus.” He pointed out how all the others were designing camber recovery into their suspension to give better camber control.


Angling trailing arms backwards and down gave camber recovery with a low and fixed roll centre.
In cornering, inner and outer wheels worked optimally and geometry was pure and stable

................... Continued



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