Patrick Henry Community College...
Patrick Henry Community College is a learning institution located in Martinsville, Virginia, where future racing scientists can learn all about the many technical aspects of race cars. This poster, on display in the school's workshop, depicts the relationship between the college and the community.
If you or the person who leads your team rejects scientific input and always insists on being right, you may have reached the limit of advancement in the development of the team. The most successful racers are always open to new ideas, no matter what the source. Winning teams search for truths and losing teams either search for what the winning teams have discovered or remain stagnant because they "already know it all."
In seeking the truth in racing science, we need to put aside our egos and understand that we can, and often will, be wrong in the search for a better race car. Not all theories will come across as improvements, but all experimentation teaches us something, even if it is only the fact that we should not go in a certain direction again.
The word failure should never be used to describe an experiment that does not produce the desired results. We succeed in increasing knowledge whatever the outcome of our experimentation.
Now that we know a little more about who we really are, let's take a look at how each of these areas of natural science is applied to our race cars.
This is a science in which we work with matter and energy and their interactions in the fields of mechanics. We are working with physics, for instance, every time we change gear ratios or the driveshaft alignment in our cars. We are changing the mechanical advantage of the engine in its relationship to accelerating the car. We follow the SM in determining the correct gear ratio for our car at a particular racetrack.
Designing new types of differentials...
Designing new types of differentials based on research and testing helps solve problems observed on the racetrack. The parts and pieces that make up a race car are in a constant state of evolution.
Physics is also applied when tuning our engine for maximum horsepower or optimizing the torque curve. We observe how quickly we accelerate down the straightaways and compare our times with the competition. If we are deficient, we work to make improvements.
Adjusting brake bias through a mechanical leverage system or by installing master cylinders with different diameters is a good example of using the laws of physics to adapt our race cars to the forces of deceleration.
Settings such as bumpsteer, roll steer, and Ackermann can ruin an otherwise great spring and moment center combination if they are not correct. We use various instruments, such as laser alignment tools, bumpsteer gauges, and computerized racing programs, to evaluate our suspension geometry.
This is a true depiction of...
This is a true depiction of the forces that act to influence the handling of our race cars. There are two forces present at midturn: gravity, which is always present, and a centrifugal force that the car feels as a pull toward the outside wall.These two forces combine, as defined in modern physics, into one resultant force whose direction and magnitude are determined by the values of the original two forces.
This is a branch of mechanical engineering in which we deal with forces and how they act on an object, or race car in our example, and how the object reacts to those forces. Our quest for higher performance must involve the study of dynamics and how our car is able to conform to the various forces it encounters lap after lap.
Our first goal is to set up the car so that it is properly aligned and dynamically balanced. As the longitudinal (when braking and accelerating) and lateral (occurring primarily at midturn) forces affect the car, we study how the car reacts so that we can minimize undesirable characteristics. These include excess dive on entry and squat on exit, dynamic camber change, and unequal and unpredictable weight distribution on the four tires.
We have tools we can use to study exactly what might be affecting our race car. These tools include tire temperature gauges, pressure gauges, tread depth gauges, shock travel indicators, and up to and including data acquisition. Of equal use are computer programs that tell us our moment center location and camber change characteristics as well as the dynamic balance of the car.
We are continually working to improve the dynamic condition of our race cars to make sure the four tires are working as hard as possible. Then we will be as fast as we can be relative to the limitations of tires, track surface conditions, and available horsepower.