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Aerodynamics in Race Cars

By Mohan kumar Sellappan

Aerodynamics In Race Cars

The main focus in building and designing a successful race car is making it aerodynamically efficient. The car must be versatile, durable, safe, and most important, fast. The challenge for the design team is to create car that can race on any type of track, whether it be on tight corners or long straightaways.

Car Development and Racing Physics

The aerodynamics of the race car is multi-functional. 1. To make it as streamline as possible. 2. To provide downforce for the race vehicle. 3. To control the airflow over the cars body.

Streamlining a vehicle means reducing the drag of the vehicle traveling through the air. This is done two ways: 1.Making the surfaces in contact with the air as smooth as possible. 2.Decreasing the size of the car, as reduction in the cross-sectional area of the vehicle will result in less drag and in turn high speed.

Downforce is the opposite of lift. Lift occurs due to a difference in pressures on opposite sides of aerofoils caused by Bernoullis effect. The wings on race cars are essentially wings flipped upside-down so that the lifting force is directed in a downward direction.

1.The theory behind creating downforce is to increase the force that the vehicle has on the ground.
2.This in turn will increase the traction of the tires, enabling the race cars to make sharp turns at higher speeds.

Front Wing
The front wing is the first thing that comes in contact with oncoming airflow, therefore it is designed to 1. give the vehicle downforce directed at the front tyres. 2. direct the airflow over the body.

Front Wing
The front wing assembly directs air toward the under-body of the chassis, toward the radiators, diffusers, and rear wings, and over and around the tyres. Any change in the airflow over the front wing will change the overall airflow over the entire vehicle. With optimum settings for the front wing, it can produce about 1500 lbs of downforce.

Rear wing
The rear wing is designed to provide an enormous downforce focused to the rear tyres. This gives the vehicle great traction for acceleration and turning.

Rear Wing
Optimum wings can create as much as 3000 lbs of downforce. Creating more downforce by the rear wing results in more drag. Therefore, engineers try to design the wings for the best drag/downforce compromise. This can vary depending on track conditions, and racing conditions.

The chassis is designed to produce maximum downforce for the vehicle. This is done in two ways: 1. the design of the underbody and 2. giving the vehicle a rake. In doing so, the car can make sharp turns at high speeds while maintaining complete control of the handling.

A rake means the rear of the race car is higher than the front. This results in the cars body acting as an aerofoil, and produces downforce for the entire vehicle. The special design of the underbody allows an area of low pressure under the car. This results in the car being sucked toward the track by the passing airflow.

The diffuser is usually found on each side of the central engine and gearbox fairing and is located behind the rear axle line. The diffuser consists of many tunnels and splitters. It is designed carefully to guide and control airflow underneath the racecar.

Essentially, it creates a suction effect on the rear of the racecar and pulls the car down to the track.The suction effect is a result of Bernoullis equation, which states that where speed is higher, pressure must be lower. This implies that the pressure below the racecar must be lower than the pressure at the outlet since the speed of the air below the racecar will be higher than the speed of the air at the outlet.

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