The search for race car plumbing...
The search for race car plumbing includes designing parts that reduce weight and restrictions in the flow of liquids, such as this composite water pump. Whenever we try to improve the way the fluids work in our race cars, we are dealing with the science of hydraulics.
This is a science that deals with the composition, structure, and properties of substances and the transformations they undergo. Chemistry in racing? There is no way that racing involves chemistry-or does it? When racing parts manufacturers develop better alloys for aluminum parts, or improve brake pads, or invent materials that are more fire resistant to use in our driving suits, or for that matter, better tire treatments, the science of chemistry plays a large part in the process.
Brake companies are continually coming up with improved brake components, especially brake pads. Performance gains come as a direct result of altering the chemical makeup of the pad material based on the real needs of the racers. The composition of the pad and the overall process of manufacturing the brake pad component involves chemical process analysis.
Motor oils and oil additives have improved as a direct result of chemical research using new ingredients that provide better lubrication, which will reduce the heating and wearing of metal parts. Coatings are chemical treatments of metals that help make the moving parts in our engines, transmissions, and differentials produce less friction and heat. Once we reduce friction, we lessen the amount of the engine's horsepower needed to turn those parts, and more horsepower will be available at the rear wheels to accelerate the car.
Race companies use the science...
Race companies use the science of chemistry to formulate paints that show levels of heat. As the brake rotor becomes heated, the paint changes color at specific temperature thresholds.
Almost every team either owns their own dedicated computers or has access to computers. Teams use the computer for many different tasks that help improve their racing efforts. From message board participation on the Web to saving data on the setups, a team now has access to a world of knowledge and useful tools that were not available several years ago.
If I have a question, all I have to do is log on to one of the many World-Wide-Web message boards run by racing companies and racing enthusiasts, present my query, and then wait for someone to offer advice.
If I need to know more about a particular routine or piece of equipment, I can search the Web, which has thousands of links that will lead me to the information I need. I can download software or locate companies that sell computer software that will help me manage my team, simulate my setups, and help redesign my race car.
The Internet has elevated...
The Internet has elevated our level of knowledge in racing to the point that whatever we need to know is only a touch of a keyboard away. Probably 99.9 percent of all racing parts companies, racetracks, racing schools, publications (including www.circletrack.com), and sanctioning bodies have Web sites that you can visit free of charge to learn about anything and everything related to racing technology.
I can keep up with changes in the racing industry with my computer. That means finding out who is winning, where series will be racing, and which new parts are out. It also means accessing lists of racing technology schools and learning new and improved techniques for setting up my race car.
The Internet has opened up the world of racing as never before. The fact that it is almost instantaneous in the delivery of news and technology makes this medium a must-have for everyone who is involved in racing.
Maybe the greatest leap in technology we have experienced in motorsports is in the area of safety. Racers can now race more comfortably knowing their bodies can withstand the forces of an impact more efficiently. Motorsports science has helped us understand the nature of the forces and how we can protect the driver from the negative effects of those forces.
A lot of research went into the development of safer seats, better seatbelts and head-and-neck restraints, safer barriers, more fire-resistant suits and accessories, and so forth. The list goes on, but we all can agree that our sport is much safer today than ever before thanks to the motorsports scientist.
Our innovations and advancements...
Our innovations and advancements in the area of safety could be our most successful scientific endeavor related to racing. The survival of horrific impacts such as this is a testament to the success of racing science. This driver wore a head-and-neck restraint device that only recently became available. Photo by Randy Ellen
By now, you should have come to the conclusion that what we do and how we do it, not to mention the level of success we have demonstrated over the years in our discoveries, makes us, by deed and definition, scientists. Racers have done as much good with fewer resources as any other research group probably in the history of mankind.
And the one reason we have been so successful is that racers are not bound by restrictions or self-imposed guidelines. Research organizations born out of the higher education system can be stifling as to how individuals are allowed to proceed in their research. Racers know no such boundaries.
Competition is the catalyst that breeds success. We are all driven by an intense desire to improve our product, and the sheer numbers of researchers in racing means that this whole endeavor involving the science of racing moves at a quick pace and delivers results that formal scientists would find very impressive.
To find the most successful scientists on earth, we need only look at the everyday racer and realize it is he or she who really performs, academic degree or not. The many other dedicated scientists in our society would do well to study the work habits and accomplishments of the men and women who race.