Go Testing
If you are still trying to understand the difference between kingpin angle and caster, then you might not be ready to test in a wind tunnel. On the other hand, if you are confident in your setup skills and are looking to take your team to the next level, starting an aero program may be just what you need to do. The A2 wind tunnel was designed to be affordable for touring and even serious Saturday night teams. First-time customers can get two hours of testing for $690, and the price stays reasonable for longer test sessions.

Gary Eaker, the owner of A2, understands most teams using his wind tunnel won't have an engineer on staff, much less a trained aerodynamicist, and may need a little help making the most of their time. Because his staff is adamant about not sharing secrets learned by another team, they cannot coach you on what to do. Fortunately, he has written a workbook that can help a team prepare for and make the most of a test. He says there are also local engineers who can be hired to help a team if they prefer that option.

Here are some tips Eaker says should help a team make the most of its time under the fan:
-When you are at the wind tunnel, you aren't learning anything unless the fan is blowing. Do all the prep work you can at your shop beforehand. Plan in advance all the changes you wish to make and prefabricate anything necessary to minimize time between "blows."

-Aero is notorious for interactions between seemingly "independent" mods. This means that virtually everything in aerodynamics affects something else. Be prepared to be surprised by something you didn't expect. Build time into your testing plan to deviate and test an idea that may have popped up from the previous test.

-You should have a goal for your test. Do you want to try a bunch of different things just to see how they affect the car? Are you trying to correct specific handling problems? Maybe you are looking at different aero packages for different applications or tracks.

-A2 has anemometers to measure airflow through ducting. Don't concentrate only on downforce. You can also test to see which duct routing method gets you the most airflow to your brakes, or which radiator box design allows the smallest grille opening while still maximizing flow to the radiator.

-If you are testing things such as fender shape, begin with the minimum volume (a convex fender versus flat). This will allow you to build up the area or surface with panels or filler materials.

-During a test in the A2 tunnel, the wind speed is 85 mph. This is enough to blow things off the car. The leading edges of applied pieces should fit well and be securely fastened to the car (pop rivets work well). Don't depend on tape to hold everything in place.

A2 Wind Tunnel