01
Mar
10

In defence of the Flying Dildo Delta Wing

Looks like I really screwed the pooch.

A couple weeks ago, I derided the Chip Ganassi/Ben Bowlby “Delta Wing” concept for a new-generation Indy Car formula with a bunch of cheap shots about how silly it looks.  In my defence, it does look silly:

Toldja

I saw this thing as an attempt to gain publicity for the flagging Indy Car series by sheer shock value, with some concern given to cost issues and side-by-side racing (hence the shrouded wheels).  I suggested that the IRL take a page out of Grand Am’s book and

give multiple chassis manufacturers franchise approval under a common aero spec, and multiple engine manufacturers similar approval under a “we regulate your intake restrictors and rev limiters to make good racing” spec.

Turns out that Ganassi and Bowlby were way ahead of me.  Gordon Kirby has a pair of articles that’ve swayed my opinion:

My biggest problem with the Flying Dildo (I’m still gonna call it that, because it amuses me to do so) was with its front end.  It looked like a toy for banked ovals, not something that’d be in any way persuaded to go around corners.  And the reason for that is its narrow track, which flies in the face of damn near all accepted wisdom on generating lateral force.

First of all, absolute cornering force at one pair of wheels isn’t all that interesting (believe it or not) in a clean-sheet design like this one.  The car’s cornering balance (over- or understeer) is determined by how much lateral force a wheel-pair produces and by the length of the moment arm from that wheel-pair to the car’s centre of gravity.  In the Delta Wing’s case, they can stick the CG pretty much anywhere they please — including far enough back that they don’t need all that much cornering force from the fronts.

A wide track wheel-pair gives you lots of lateral force (by lengthening moment arms, if my understanding’s correct).  It also, in a double-wishbone suspension, gives you a great deal of control over camber curves: how each wheel’s camber changes as the suspension moves.  Big fat racing tires being what they are, this is an important concern.  I don’t know how they plan to shoehorn an independent suspension into the Delta Wing, but look at the tires — they’re incredibly narrow.  I’d guess that they’re much more tolerant to camber changes than the IRL’s existing front slicks.

The other thing you get with narrow tires is much-reduced sensitivity to slip angle.  (Go watch some old Formula One racing on youtube and note the way the drivers pitch the cars into corners and slide on through.)  This is a designed-in feature.  Bowlby explains:

“Watching the Moto GP bikes at Indianapolis reminded us how cool it is to watch a rider truly on the edge of balance, but in a visible way for the spectator,” Bowlby remarks. “It’s great to see those guys balancing their machines and we thought we’ve missed that in Indy cars. I watched the 2009 Indy 500 from the Southwest Vista with some of our sponsors. It was my first experience of sitting in the stands watching the cars and I was very surprised that with even a trained racing engineering eye how little movement you could see in the cars’ balance.

“The cars were on rails and they all pulled the same rpm with exactly the same exhaust note for every car. They all did the same speed and there was no differentiation so it became a droning kind of thing that’s the opposite of Moto GP racing. That made us realize we needed to make a car with a much broader performance envelope.”

[…]

“It had less understeer and the fundamental balance is a progressive and stable oversteer condition. It’s stable simply because you have the ability to respond with a very light front end to increasing yaw angles and catch the car. It has a very progressive and wide operating envelope. So we carried on with the simulation work and developed a very detailed strategy for the layout of the car.”

And in the second article, Kirby addresses my concerns about a one-make series (as the IRL is now):

“We’re absolutely dead-set against a one-make formula,” Bowlby declares. “As we’ve learned, the equation of cost versus the marketability or sellability of a one-make formula doesn’t work. We think there’s also a value question in a completely free formula like Formula One. So what’s the middle ground?

“The concept that we have come up with over a long period of time with a lot of detailed study is what we are describing as an open-source, open-access development protocol. Delta Wing is not a racing car constructor and that’s not our ambition so the fact that we’ve designed a car means that we’re not concerned about the intellectual property within the car. This car has been done by the teams that are involved in the IRL for the good of the future of the racing that we participate in.”

[…]

“Having the complete design effectively on a plate means you can also modify the design and submit your design for approval. In the big picture, as long as the design is published it’s a part that’s fit for racing. So it will allow teams to do what they want to do as long as it’s within certain parameters of the regulations. But it’s no longer a covert operation. We will share information. We’ve moved into an information/entertainment phenomenom. It’s not a secret. Anybody can get access to the design. They can download it, modify it, submit it, or manufacture it.”

So now I’m actually kind of excited about this Delta Wing business.  I wish them luck going forward.

Advertisements

1 Response to “In defence of the Flying Dildo Delta Wing”



Leave a reply; use raw HTML for markup. Please blockquote quotations from the post or other comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


anarchocapitalist agitprop

Be advised

I say fuck a lot

Categories

Archives

Statistics FTW


%d bloggers like this: