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Aerodynamics Of Race Cars Essay

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Anthony Vaccaro Dr. Post Aero 315 25 February 2018 Aerodynamics of Race Cars Aerodynamics is extremely important for the high performance of race cars. A simple change on the angle of spoilers can make the difference between winning and losing. Functioning at such high speeds, race cars are constantly susceptible to large amounts of drag due to the velocity the vehicle and the ever-changing airflow around the car. Manufacturers across the world are constantly performing numerous tests with wind tunnels and other medians to minimize drag, and maximize the ability of a race car to speed smoothly through turbulent air. One must fully understand the aerodynamic concepts and processes at work when a race car speeds around the track, in order…show more content…
Aerodynamics of a race car while performing is highly complex and there are many variables that come into play. According to Bill Montagne of Hot Rod Network, on a basic level, aerodynamics begins to manifest when a vehicle is traveling at speeds greater than 50 mph (Montagne, Aerodynamics in Race Cars Explained). This is due in part because when traveling less than 50 mph, a vehicle’s weight plays a more significant role than aerodynamic improvements. As velocity increases, downforce and drag increase. Kristen Geisler, writer in howstuffworks explains downforce as, “The force or increased weight created by air pressure moving over a race car’s various surfaces” (Geisler, howstuffworks). While this gives the race car more grip around corners, it also reduces overall speed of the race car. Bernoulli’s principle occurs when pressure decreases as a result of increasing speed. This effect is enhanced in a race car where air increases in speed as pressure decreases on the bottom of the car which creates a larger downforce. In Aero 315, we learned that drag is parallel to the airflow and reduces the speed of a race car (Aero 315, Post). We also learned about incompressible…show more content…
Overall, their goal is to create high downforce and minimize drag. Montagne states, “The drivetrain shapes, tire friction, tire pressures, tire heat, racetrack surface irregularity, toe angle, front camber angle, rear alignment, rear toe, and rear camber all affect the aerodynamic efficiency for a race car” (Montagne, Aerodynamics in Race Cars Explained). There are numerous aerodynamic considerations when attempting to engineer a high performance race car. Considering horsepower is another factor taken into account to overcome drag, it is much easier to reduce drag in a race car frame than increasing the horsepower of the engine. Furthermore, a race car creates a high pressure area in front of the car. When the angle of the front of the car to the ground becomes steeper, drag increases (Montagne). Thus, engineers seek to create very shallow angles and many race cars appear as if the bottom of the car is almost touching the ground. The height and location of a spoiler is also important because of the moment arm created which affects downforce. The higher the spoiler, the longer the moment arm, and the further back the spoiler is on the car, the higher the downforce is on the rear. Thus, spoilers increase downforce in order to counter lift and increase road grip. The more aerodynamic the race car is, the less drag it will feel. To reduce drag, race car engineers alter the shape
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