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>>The Art of Race Car Design, by Bob Riley with Jonathan Ingram
Riley's nearly 70 year career as a race car designer encompasses just
about every racing discipline; Le Mans prototypes, Indy cars, Trans-AM
sportscars, NASCARs , and even land speed record cars, not to mention
just about everything in between. Well into his 80s, Riley,
having seen the recent success of the Viper GTS-R, has now moved
onto the next project, the Riley Mk XXX LMP2 car design and build, and
his mind is as active as ever.
Somewhere during all this
he found time to sit down and put his career into words. The
results is a collaboration between Riley and Jonathan Ingram, told
through Riley's down-to-earth style, with driver and keynote
personality interviews in between. The 192 page book covers from
Bob's teenage days growing up in Lafayette, Louisiana, scrounging local
junkyards and building and racing hot rod creations dubbed with names
such as “The Contraption” and “Jezebel” to the Chrysler SRT Dodge Viper
The sheer variety of the cars Bob Riley has
designed is to behold; Ford GT-40 Mk II, AJ Foyt Coyote Indycars, Lynx
Formula Vee and Super Vee, Ford Mustang GTP, Lincoln-Mercury Merkur
XR4TI, Intrepid GTP, just to name a few. To some degree it can be
argued Riley's success is related to the exposure these different
racing disciplines (very different in some cases) that are all
connected by similar race car design needs. And throughout the
book you get a sense of the reoccurring themes; introspection of the
past mistakes, but also the good ideas, and the utilization of those
lessons learned into the next design.
This is evident in
Riley's admission that following the demise of the Ford Mustang GTP
program never again would he design another race car without a power
steering system. And the seeds of the separated spring and
damper, the Riley Rocker, came to him while racing the Intrepid GTP
through the streets of New Orleans. The follow-on sportscar, the
MkIII WSC, would have both; power steering and the Riley Rocker.
race car designers are highly specialized, typically staying within
their area of expertise. However, Bob Riley is from a
completely different era, an era that wasn't quite as
homogeneous. He started off from very humble hands-on beginnings,
accumulated a vast amount of knowledge along the way, and had his share of success. Though sadly Bob Riley is the
last of a generation.
The Art of Race Car Design can be pre-ordered through Amazon.com. It will be released in February of 2016.
>>Audi is testing at Sebring as we speak and video
has been leaking out. The R18 appears pretty much the same as in
the debut images, though now we have a picture of the rear end.
a new small front wheel well exit duct (1). Quite a lot of
segmentation of the rear trailing edge exit flow. Again the rear
deck height is to the minimum legal in the middle, raising slightly
outboard. Best guess is that primary engine bay cooling exit is
out of the inboard segment of the rear fender exit (2), as well as
along the short trailing edge gap (3).
mandatory rear fender hole is inboard, as mentioned before, but very
much optimized in shape (4). Also of note are the "low
drag" Le Mans wheels with the very wide bead (5) and deep wheel offset
year and another new Audi LMP1, let's have a look. First, some
technical details and program highlights: Audi are moving to the
6MJ class, going lithium-ion battery (no more flywheel) and their
engine package is staying the same as this year, 4.0L, turbo diesel V6.
Audi has also stated they will only be running 2 cars at Le Mans.
VAG stablemate Porsche issued a statement the same day
reiterating same. Honestly this can only be seen as making nice
with the company accountants in lieu of the VW diesel scandal and the
obvious costs that is going to incur. Considering that issue,
it's certainly good the program still survives.
new 2016 Audi R18 has the highest nose (1) seen in recent times.
Perhaps that's a design element that an ex-F1 aerodynamicist
finds familiar? With the raised nose there's clearly an intention
to grab and direct more airflow internally. But previous Audis
have done similar, so it's a continuation of a theme.
seeing more, and larger, aero devices (2), in addition to the standard
front wing and flap (3). The front fender (4) is a further
evolution of the wide and vertical trend. The width and vertical shape
direct air around, rather than over, reducing lift, and some drag
considering the mandatory fender holes (BHH, Big Honking Holes) in the
top. And it also helps direct air inboard over the front aero
devices. In side view, the R18's fender is decidedly undercut at the
bottom and leans forward at the top, much more so than the Porsche
919's front fender. There is a duct at the bottom of the
fender (5) that more than likely draws air towards the brake/upright.
a lot going on on the top of the fender too with strakes outboard (6)
and inboard (7) containing and directing what little flow is coming
over the top of the fender. A curious element, that was seen on
last year's R18, is that the trailing edge of the mandatory front
fender hole is decidedly raised (8) above the height of the
corresponding surface on the leading edge. This very much appears
to grab air being shed off the top of the tire, though for what aims
remains to be determined. And with more air being directed that
way via strakes 6 & 7...
The side pod height (9) continues
the trend set with the 2015 R18 and is as low as the regulations allow.
The front of the tub is much narrower (10) than previously and
that signals the driver having been shifter rearwards, as that area is
dimensionally driven by regulations mandating a minimum area/volume
around the driver's feet. Being narrowed so close to where the
crash box mounts indicates the regulatory volume, and the driver's
feet, have moved rearwards. It's also interesting that the top of
the cockpit is decidedly squarer, much more so than last year's car (below).
This appears to be aero driven.
is a better view of the undercut front fender leading edge (11).
Visually the car is very awkward looking, but then it's been 50
years since function over took aesthetics, at least in my opinion.
The placement of the windscreen (12) again hints at the driver
having moved rearwards. Furthermore, the perception of the
windscreen angle, while appearing
more visually upright, is strongly influenced by the much squarer top
point of the forward roll over section of the cockpit. All of this, I think,
conspires to move air around the cockpit, rather than over. |
can see the outboard strakes (13) are still being used. The side
view mirrors (14) are no longer in pods that projected out of the front
fender trailing edge, at least one opposing team commented to me about
them at Le Mans. But then I think they were butt hurt in general
about having to move their own mirrors a couple of times...Then there's
those rear wing endplates (15). I suppose I'm a little puzzled by
them. However, one aerodynamicist I contacted cynically suggested
they was done for pure aesthetics, "But they look different, no?"
rear BHH (16) are located on the inboard face of the rear fender.
In general themes the rear end of the Audi is certainly very
similar to previous years considering general shapes, as well as
specifics with the elongated rear fender leading edge (17), minimum
height trailing edge (18), and opening (19) ahead of the rear cheese
wedge. But the most interesting thing at the rear has been
intentionally covered/closed in order to conceal. Interesting
things in the rear fender trailing edge (20)? That'll be a place
Overall this is the most awkward looking Audi LMP
perhaps ever. And while mostly evolutionary, has it gone too far
for a car that Audi hopes to get the best of Porsche (and Toyota) in
2016? One thing I would think is for certain, I'd expect the car
that shows up at Paul Ricard to be a further evolution of what Audi has
released here. The Silverstone car a step even more.
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A selection of sports car related DVDs and books, with a technical slant.
the other shoe dropped and now Darren Cox has left Nissan. Depending on
where that program was in your heart, he either left, or was fired.
Contacting him directly he implies, "I walked. On my own terms.
Couldn't do anymore than I had already. You know how it is in big
companies." I won't comment any further, though I think Daily
Sports Car's Graham Goodwin sums up Darren Cox, and his impact on
Nissan's various motorsports programs over 18 years, rather well.
lot has occurred in the intervening months, Nissan has withdrawn from
the WEC, there have been some personnel reshuffling and additions, and
two high profile tests have taken place at COTA (July and September).
The COTA tests were described as successful with gains being made in
lap time, however the car is still running without the hybrid
system. No word on when the car will be up to full capacity
though I do understand the work is well underway. The keys for
further lap time gains will be sorting out the KERs system and tire
development, with Michelin developing bespoke rubber for the
Nissan. And while the KERs is certainly very important, don't
underestimate the importance of what bespoke rubber compounds/tire
construction could do.
But little has been said about who
Nissan's new hybrid systems partner is. It is assumed that
Torotrak are out of the picture completely. And in that vein, I'm
hearing that perhaps none other than Renault Sport might be
involved. Naturally Renault and Nissan are associated, so
it actually makes quite a lot of sense if confirmed. The interesting
part is that while Magneti Marelli provides Renault F1's hybrid system
(the Motor Generator Unit and inverters though apparently not the
battery), it seems as though Renault Sport themselves are taking on the
consultation of the Nissan hybrid unit in-house. Regardless of
who is doing the work, from what I'm hearing it isn't a total system
redesign. I'm not sure it ever could have been given how
integrated the system is to the chassis. So I understand the
updated system will contain new bits and perhaps updated existing
At the second COTA test the new development bits,
dive planes and new front brake intakes, were more refined/finalized
compared to what was seen on the car from the earlier test. The
other interesting detail was a new constant height splitter. It's been
introduced in order to reduce a porpoising problem that has been
occurring (see video and mention of the issue here),
though it would seem to be caused partly by your standard LMP1 issues,
very long front overhang, coupled with higher than typical front weight
distribution and higher front aero loading. Regardless, all the
new items are said to have helped with lap time and gains are being
Off the record I'm told the program is safe through 2016
and discussions are currently on-going internally regarding car
direction for 2017 and 2018 as the ACO trickles future regulation
changes to the teams. An interesting rumor of late making
the rounds indicates that none other than Adrian Newey is supposedly
joining the Nissan design group at some level. However it is
completely unsubstantiated and no matter who I inquired with it was
denied as fantasy.
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