Aerodynamics in Sports Cars

July 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips

With the desire to go faster than ever before cars have been making use of the aerodynamic principles developed for aircraft for some time now. In many cases, good aerodynamics can be the key to success in sports cars, and so it comes as no surprise that millions of dollars are spend researching and developing this facet of auto racing each year.

There are two main factors to take into consideration when discussing the aerodynamics of an automobile: down force and drag. Down force is an aid for good, as it helps to push the car’s tires onto the track and so improves a car’s ability to corner and stay on the road. Drag, on the other hand, is not a favorable factor, since it is essentially air turbulence that slows the car down. Finding the right balance between the two can sometimes be tricky.

Altering the aerodynamic performance of race cars was something that was more or less started in the late 1960s. This is when the wings that are now commonplace on the racetrack were first added to cars. Early experiments with wings resulted in some rather spectacular accidents and so regulations were introduced to limit the size and location of wings in 1970. Race car wings are essentially upside-down airplane wings – instead of creating lift they create down force using something known as Bernoulli’s Principle. As the wind travels over the shorter and longer planes of the wings, it pushes the car down and helps it to stay on the road. Modern Formula One cars have this science down to such an art that the cars are capable of handling a lateral cornering force of 3.5g! The concept was further improved during the mid 1970s when Lotus engineers discovered that adding a wing to the car’s underside could further help to improve road holding. Over time a number of rules have been drawn up regarding this aspect of down force to ensure that no team has a distinctly unfair advantage over other teams. Today wings may be altered from race to race to improve the cars performance on a particular track.

When it comes to reducing drag, wind tunnels have certainly helped to make race cars more streamlined. By now every single aspect of the modern Formula One car has been investigated and improved to make it as streamlined as possible – including the driver’s helmet and the suspension! There is, however, one downside to a slippery smooth car: the incredible heat produced by a Formula One engine does need good supply of airflow to ensure that it doesn’t build up and cause problems. So designers are always careful to ensure that this is something that is provided for, even though they also spend hours trying to make sure that the air travels over the car as effortlessly as it can. No doubt, as racing cars continue to get faster and leaner, you will continue to see more and more of these developments take effect.

Rare Sport Car Collection Opens at Simeone Museum

June 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

After nearly half a century of careful collection, Dr. Fredrick Simeone has seen fit to share his prize, joy and passion with the rest of the world. Located just a short distance off Interstate 95 in Philadelphia, this impressive museum is some 75 000 square feet in size and displays approximately 65 rare sport and racing cars with the sort of meticulous attention to detail that you’d expect from a neurosurgeon. Fortunately Dr. Simeone is a neurosurgeon, and visitors to this fantastic museum will find that his passion and the painstaking effort that has no doubt gone into creating the exhibits was certainly not a waste of time.

The fantastic newly established Simeone Foundation Museum, which is due to open at the beginning of next week, provides car enthusiasts with the ultimate walk through time. After more than 50 years of collecting cars, Dr. Simeone now has one of the finest vintage racecar collections on the planet. The different cars are displayed in dioramas of the actual racing events that those particular vehicles were used in and this gives the museum a rather intriguing edge. It certainly helps to transport one back in time mentally and visitors will find themselves completely immersed in a journey that documents the history and development of sporting vehicles from 1909 to 2002. Classic images of Watkins Glen, Sebring, Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and Bonneville will stir onlookers and leave them with fond memories of their visit to the Simeone Foundation Museum.

So what can you expect to see at the museum? An Aston Martin DBR1 that was piloted to victory by Sir Stirling Moss at Nurburgring in 1958 is certainly not something an enthusiast would want to miss out on. Another highlight is a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S “Tank”. This particular “Tank” took the winner’s trophy at Le Mans in 1958. The 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B on display has the distinction of winning the Mille Miglia during its time as a racing car. While these cars are no doubt interesting highlights that should not be overlooked, the entire collection is also definitely worth seeing. The museum has been designed by its founder to clearly depict how competition and racing has helped to improve the quality, technology and prestige of motor vehicles over the years. The Museum will be open to the public six days a week, so make sure that you book your tour as soon as possible!

SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge

April 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

The Sports Car Club of America, or SCCA, decided to open a new racing class in 1972, known as the Showroom Stock. It was a class that was reserved for stock street automobiles and its popularity grew at such pace that by 1980 a twenty-four hour racing event was being held. By 1985, the series had expanded to six races and by 1996 the world challenge was divided into a touring class and sports class. In 2002, the title sponsor became Speedvision, which was bought by Fox, and the name became the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge.

The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge is raced in two divisions, namely the Speed World Challenge Speed GT and the Speed World Challenge Speed Touring Car. The aim of the Speed World Challenge is to provide a production based racing event to manufacturers and teams, in which they are able to display the power and quality of their products. Drivers and manufacturers are allocated championship points according to the finishing position of each class. In the Drivers Championship, a winning driver will be selection on their points in each class, whereas there is only one award for the Manufacturers Championship.

At present, Pierre Kleinubing leads the Speed Touring Car Driver Championships with 122 points, Kuno Wittmer is in second with 108 points, Peter Cunningham has 98 points, Charles Espenlaub has 85 points and Jeff Altenburg has 80 points. In the Speed GT, Randy Pobst has the lead with 220 points, Brandon Davis has 208 points, Andy Pilgrim is in third position so far with 198, Michael Galati with 182 and Jason Daskalos with 145.

In the Speed GT and the Speed Touring Car divisions, a Rookie of the Year award is given to a driver who has not had more than three starts and they have to be confirmed as Rookies by SCCA Pro Racing. Entrant drivers in the season are able to be awarded the Jim Cook Memorial Trophy, which is given to drivers who show sportsmanship, character and contribute positively to the sport. Crew Chiefs stand in line to be presented with the Zimmermann Cup, for dedication, passion and leadership shown during the racing season.

This year, the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge started in Sebring on 12 to 14 March, moved to ACS Long Beach from the 18th to the 20th of April and continued at VIR Danvill from the 25th of April to the 27th. Miller Tooele takes place on 16 to 18 May, Lime Rock from 24 to 26 May, The Glen from 5 to 8 June, Mid Ohio from 17 to 20 July, Road America from 8 to 10 August, Mosport from 21 to 24 August, Detroit from 29 to 31 August, New Jersey from 26 to 28 September and Road Atlanta fromm the 1st to the 4th of October 2008.

Fantastic Motor Racing in Australia

April 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

The 2008 Australian racing season will see big changes in the industry. The AMRS (Australian Motor Racing Series) has undergone a complete redevelopment and a number of exciting new events have been established at grassroots level. The change comes after three years of steady, motor racing growth in the country.

The Australian Motor Racing Series is the most affordable racing series in Australia and so it is very popular with aspiring drivers and auto racing fans. Thus it was only natural that this racing series should be developed more fully. Starting 2008, the newly titled Australian Motor Racing Championships (AMC) will not only cater for racing, but also touring, GT cars and Sports cars. Races will be held at five different circuits during the course of the year. The new racing season started on the 1st of March. The 2008 series is just the start of it. The new racing plan has been set up offer the course of five years, with the ultimate goal of making this auto racing competition the most affordable in the country.

This year’s series will be made up of nine meetings that will be held at Calder Park, Winton Motor Raceway, Queensland Raceway, Wakefield Park and Adelaide International Raceway. The racing will be sanctioned by the Australian Auto Sport Alliance (AASA). The fact that races will take place across the Eastern seaboard means that competitors and sponsors will reach a far larger market than they normally would. The races will also be nationally televised so that fans unable to make it to the race will be able to enjoy all the action from the comfort of their living rooms.

The main events in the new series will be the AASA Australian Production Car Championship and the AASA Australian Touring Car Championship. The Touring Car Championship will see the inclusion of categories such as V8 Giants and 3-litre Turbo Giant Killers. The races will also be longer, with less or no handicaps. A special feature of the racing calendar includes the ‘Thundersports’ category. Vehicles in this class have motorcycle engines and a fiberglass body. This makes them extremely low cost and super fast. The Production Touring Car Championship is open to any street legal sedan that has been fitted with all the necessary safety equipment, while the Classic Touring Cars remains a popular event.

Mazda Furai – Sound of the Wind

February 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

The new Mazda Furai, which was unveiled at the 2008 North American International Auto Show held in Detroit in January, is causing some excitement in auto racing circles. Mazda have not yet officially confirmed whether the Furai – meaning “sound of the wind” – will be exclusively race oriented, giving rise to speculation that the traditional boundary distinguishing street-legal cars from single-purpose track cars is about to be breached.

Mazda’s acclaimed Nagare design is superbly embodied in the Mazda Furai. Nagare means “flow” and describes the flow of air or water moving effortlessly in one direction, or the embodiment of motion. Although modeled on the Nagare design concept, the Furai differs from the four previous concept cars, in that it is all about function rather than aesthetic value. Every last detail of the Furai serves a purpose in achieving the goal of guiding air over and through the body using aerodynamic principles which support excellent road-holding properties at high speeds. The cockpit is comfortably finished with the emphasis remaining on functionality. Gear-change shift paddles and an electronic display screen are built into the steering wheel.

Mazda has gained somewhat of a reputation for its innovative use of the rotary engine, which is very evident in the RX series. They have now added to their rotary stable with the introduction of the Mazda Furai, which boasts a RENESIS-based 20B three-rotor rotary engine capable of producing in excess of 450 horsepower – and it runs off 100% ethanol. In using a rotary engine in the design of the Mazda Furai, the manufacturers are acknowledging that in the auto racing world’s view, Mazda and rotary engine are synonymous. This has been reinforced over the years by the Mazda RX-7, which is widely considered to be one of the best production sports cars in the world.

Mazda have used the Courage C65 racing chassis in the design of the Furai, ensuring that the car will handle even the most challenging corners on the track. The C65 chassis has more than proven its worth during two seasons of endurance racing in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).

Certainly, there is every indication that auto racing enthusiasts can look forward to some serious “zoom-zoom” from the Mazda Furai.

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