The Great Racing Car Teams

Farrari Racing

Top racing teams include McLaren, Williams, Ferrari and Red Bull. The reasons these teams stay on or near the top year after year is because they recruit the best race car drivers and support the best engines.

As with anything else, money can buy success, but only to a limited degree. Ferrari seems to be one of the highest funded – a cool 300 million according to a recent New York Times article.

Financial crises are not good for any business, but the successful race teams become smaller and more streamlined.

Qualities of a good Driver:

Sometimes it is about luck, finding the right drivers for instance. It’s a high-pressure job and in order to race effectively, drivers must stay in shape — it’s not only steering a car. The most easily overlooked aspect of racing is the teamwork. Drivers must be able to communicate constantly with their team, via radio, and work to make good decisions as a team.

Let’s look over the different teams:

Mercedes racing began in 1954. Along with Auto-Union cars they acquired the name of Silver Arrows. This is because German cars tended to race in silver, though they did have white cars too such as the Blintez Benz. Even now many German cars are referred to as being colored “Silver Arrow Gray”.

Red Bull Racing

The team currently uses AMG-Petronas cars which are silver with a green – or possibly turquoise- trim. In 2020 Merc introduced black livery in support of Black Lives Support.

Ferrari’s racing team is Scuderia Ferrari known also as the Prancing Horse. Confusingly though other teams can still use Ferrari engines and it makes sense for them to do so as they are one of the most efficient, both on the racetrack and off. Strange it may seem, although the team was created by Enzo Ferrari they originally used Alfa Romeo engines instead of Ferrari ones. Although it seems a long time ago it wasn’t until 1947 that they used Ferrari engines. This was due to Alfa Romeo’s teething troubles at the period.

Their supporters are known as the tifosi (please note they do support other Italian cars though!) who famously cheer when the cars go past them. Italians are one of the biggest fan groups of motor racing. As with the domestic cars Ferrari race cars have a strong red hue.

The Williams team was formed in 1977 in the Spanish Grand Prix. Although it used Ford, Honda and Renault engines it also used the lesser-known Judd and Cosworth engines. Judd and Cosworth don’t make ordinary cars, just the racing engines.

Red Bull has also used Cosworth engines as well as Ferrari and Renault engines. In 2019 they changed to Honda. In order to support future drivers, they also have a Red Bull junior team.

Whether it comes down to getting the lucky breaks, or being able to finance a team well, these great teams have and will continue to field some of the most winning drivers on the circuit.

Testing A Car’s Aerodynamics

A number of companies are dropping wind tunnels in favor of virtual simulation. Against what people may think, the computer simulation gives a better idea of reality than wind tunnels.

Propulsion, also known as drag, has a complicated relationship with the speed of the vehicle. As the speed doubles the drag goes up to four times that much.

Using wind tunnels to test cars goes all the way back to 1960. Things that can be tested include the design, speed, fuel efficiency and how the driver handles the car, the latter is especially important in assisting racecar drivers to know how to perform in the toughest conditions.

For a car to turn corners at 200mph requires the aerodynamics to be tested and retested. Racecar designers will actually use wind to artificially increase the cars weight to improve its traction and handling. They do this by adding spoilers and fins in order to increase the downforce.

It’s important that the peak of the roof is far enough forward, which not only adds to the aerodynamics it means there is more headroom for the back seat.

BMWs are tested in the Aerodynamic Test Center, which recreated road speed and air speed, up to a massive 300 km/h. The difficulty here is that you need a prototype vehicle to start with.

The variables investigated include the drag, lift, side forces, pitch, yaw, and roll.

The lift is the opposite to the drag, an upward force countering the weight of the object.

The pitch is a rotation by side parts of the vehicle, it isn’t that noticeable unless you are talking about the wing of a plane or the sail of a yacht.

The yaw is the rotation of the vehicle’s nose whereas the roll is the rotation of the whole vehicle’s body, usually in a crash.

In reducing these variables, the car becomes easier to handle. To prevent a car skidding on the road, you need to know the yaw and the drag especially, to prevent the car flipping over you need to know the roll force, but also the load and pitch forces. Ultimately whatever happens to a car is a result of all these forces interacting with one another. If a car is unstable it will be harder to control.

Flow Field

The areas that are affected by the aerodynamics of a vehicle is known as a “flow field”. It all comes down to optimization, making the car as easy to handle as it can be. This include lengthening the car, which effects the flow field” to make the car more aerodynamic as well as fuel effective–the pressure is distributed around the vehicle. The “flow field” is a picture of the drag, lift and the side forces and is shaped in a similar way to the car itself.

After the indoor stuff the cars are tested on the racetrack. They require 200 hours in all.

Another way of carrying out test is modelling, at around 30-60% of the production size. It’s a way to carry out similar tests but to save on running costs.

It’s best to understand how your car operates in tests so you know where the potential liabilities are. A car only drives well because its aerodynamics have been well thought out.

What Is A Rocket Bike?

There are two types of rocket bike: a manual cycle with added rocket power (or what appears to be rocket power) and a motorbike with additional power. They are often thought of as stunt bikes, because they lack deceleration and are impractical for the highway, but stunt bikes is its own category, which just happens to also not be street legal. While most stunt bikes you won’t see on the road, it’s definitely just as well that you will not see a rocket bike of any description on the road.

Early Rocket Bikes:

Early versions of the Rocket bike include Germans Fritz von Hopel, and Richter. Fritz von Hopel bolted six booster rockets to what was a 22hp (horsepower) motorcycle called “The Monster,” but he was stalled by the German government. He finally created a rocket powered motorcycle in 1929. Richter in 1931 had a less than successful test run; his bike exploded. This was also in Germany.

Rocket Bikes Today:

You might expect that we have mastered the skill by now, but the thing about being a stuntman is that things can always go wrong. It’s best to always be prepared. Names currently associated with rocket bikes include Eric Teboul, Francois Gissy, Fred Rombelberg, Rick Jojatt and the most famous, Evel Knievel.

So, let’s take these doers of daring-do one by one.

Eric Teboul who gained the nickname “Rocketman” by achieving speeds of 220mph. The bike ran on hydrogen peroxide which is broken down into oxygen and a massive cloud of steam, coming out of its exhaust nozzle. It will accelerate until it runs out of fuel.

Francois Gissy sped up to 207mph, the bike was made to be lightweight, looking more than an e-bike rather than a motorbike. Silver powder provides the “secret ingredient” to the thrust. He also developed a bike which had a speed of 249mph called “The Spine Crusher” though it is difficult to maintain such speeds.

Fred Rompelberg reached a speed of 286mph, though it had to be towed by a racecar for a bit. He achieved 0-60 in 11 seconds in a home-built rocket bike.

Most infamous is definitely Evel Knievel whose rocket bike was developed by experts including US Robert Truax. The goal was to jump the Snake River Canyon. The jump took place September 8, 1974. It’s a little hard to think of a rocket bikes taking off at a trajectory, but not flying as such. As long as there is no wings it’s a power assisted jump—not a flight.

Technically the bike cleared the canyon, but a parachute was deployed too early; the high winds affected the trajectory causing a technical fall. The bike reached speeds of 250mph; he was lucky to have survived.

Rick Jojatt known as The Human Fly used rocket power to jump 27 buses. He may not have appreciated the fame as he disappeared soon after achieving the stunt.

What is the fastest speed of anyone on rocket bike?

The leader has changed hands several times. In 1999, The Mach 3 Challenger (sponsored by Gillette) piloted by Richard Brown achieved a speed of 365mph. Then along comes Rocky Robinson with a bike called “Jet reaction” which was powered by a gas turbine achieved a speed of 376 mph.

Several bikes are lined up with over 425 pounds of torque to make attempts at breaking the 400 mph mark, we’ll soon see.

Is it about the records? Francois Gissy says that when he gets old he may settle down to the comfort of a motorcycle. This is the kind of people we are dealing with; those who think the speed of a motorbike is too geriatric.

Early Racing

Early racing included Paris to Rouen, a mere 80Km. It had a top speed of 10 mph. 69 cars were in the preliminary competition after which only 25 won a place in the competition itself. Paris to Bordeaux could be better described as a race but even that one only went to 24 mph.

Early races were sponsored by newspapers, for example the Paris-Rouen race was run by Le Petit Journal. By 1900 cars were doing about 80kph. Because of the damage to the racers, spectators and even livestock which found itself on the road, races weren’t exactly annual events.

Indie 500

The Indy500 began in 1911 with the name “the 500 Mile International Sweepstake” and is still run today. Taking place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the oval circuit shape has been nicknamed The Brickyard due to its paved appearance. The race itself consists of 200 laps of the circuit. At one point it earned the name “The greatest spectacle in racing”.

Hotrod Racing

These early races shouldn’t be described as “hot rod” races. A hot rod is a later invention and is technically a modified older car. In essence racing a Model T in the 1920s was a contemporary car. A few decades later modified Model T’s would race under the banner “hot rod.”

Hotrod races began in California in the 1930’s but they lost popularity in the 1980s. As might be expected the older cars weren’t designed for speed, hence the need for modification. This included Ford Model Ts and similar vehicles.

As well as modifying to run faster it was important to reduce some of the bulk of the vehicle. These vehicles might be comparable with the boneshakers of the bicycle world, just not racers in the conventional sense. It’s not clear why “hot rod” is called this, but many believe it refers to the connection between illegal booze and racing. Rum runners used to modify vehicles to smuggle hooch around country roads. Many racing traditions sprung up from the practice of fleeing revenuers. If this is where “hotrod” came from, it could refer to burning alcohol instead of gas or the act of fleeing the law in a supped up rig.

The Mille Miglia meanwhile started in 1927 and ended in 1957. Generally, it started and finished in Rome going through the mountains and small villages.

Early and Dangerous

These early races have been associated with disasters. In 1938 several spectators were killed. In 1957 two drivers were killed and even more unexpectedly, eleven spectators were killed as well. It’s likely that engine speed was easier to increase than handling, which was seen as the drivers job.

There’s also the Milwaukee Mile, which used an old horse racing track. Then there’s the Knoxville Raceway in Iowa which had “illegal races” between 1901 and 1914 (aka the dodgy part of car racing the history).

The term “Grand Prix” goes all the way back to 1894. It began with a road rage challenge and moved into endurance racing. Formula racing (Formula One etc) began in 1947 with the first world championship in 1951. From there it became the professional activity we know today.

Some of these endurance races were about speed, such as Indy500. Others such as Targo Florio which was set on the mountainous roads of Sicily were about overall performance. The sport of racing was finding its feet. Today, racing is a great deal safer but it could be said to have lost some of its romanticism.

Cars made out of Carbon Fiber

Most cars on the road are mainly steel and other metals, but when it comes to racing, it’s a different matter. A car is almost unbelievably heavy; a sedan weighs about 3,000 pounds. In animal terms this falls short of an elephant (where you’re talking 10,000 pounds or more) but it roughly equivalent to an average sized giraffe—which are not known for their maneuverability.

Where you find Carbon Fiber in a car:

In racing, it’s all about reducing the weight of a car. Materials such as carbon fiber can increase performance while also reducing weight—which by itself increases performance. Most people think of the body of a racer when you say carbon fiber, but the truth is you use it more in the suspension of the vehicle.

For example, in something like an Aston Martin Valkyrie the carbon fiber body might shave off a couple of pounds, but still weighs 2,200 pounds (which is the equivalent of a heavy bison). The engine powerplant is the big selling point here—854 watts. Okay, 854 watts is roughly the power of a commercial coffee grinder, so let’s talk horsepower. How does 1,145 hp sound? Better right?

Another reason for using carbon fiber is that a car remains strong and robust despite the decrease of weight. The engineers speak of high “strength-to-weight ratios.”

Many twin turbos are made of carbon fiber as this is currently the best way to get maximum thrust from them. (A twin turbo is just a car with more than one turbocharger in its engine.) Examples of cars with twin turbos include the Koengigsegg Agera and the perhaps more well-known McLaren Senna. But without the carbon fiber these cars wouldn’t able to handle high speeds.

Body/Shell

Okay we can’t ignore the body, or shell, for ever. The composite materials used to make cars may be described as a polymer. As well as being more suitable for racing, these cars are more fuel efficient. But if shedding weight alone won races, you’d see a lot of dune buggies on the track and you don’t.

Another place carbon fiber helps is aerodynamic coefficient or Cx. Also known as a drag coefficient it’s about with how an object react the air around it. Put simply, engineers want cars that do not have too much drag otherwise it will be resistant to moving a high speed. When your drag goes up with the speed, you’re fighting a losing battle.

A final biproduct of carbon fiber composite is that there’s no chance that they will rust or corrode. Of course, a race car driver probably destroys his body shell long before it would get a chance to rust.

The total change of the dynamic of the car is one reason that race drivers need special training, after all it doesn’t move like a metal car and the levels of acceleration in these vehicles take most people by surprise.

The Dreaded Female Driver?

Yep, we’re going there. The Kicker neither courts nor turns aside from controversy. So it’s time to look into lady drivers from an honest standpoint and let the chips fall where they may. The first question isn’t, “do women drivers have a reputation,” it’s do they deserve it.

The History of It:

Clearly there is no biological reason for there to be a difference in driving ability between male and female. It takes two legs at least one arm and basic hand eye coordination. Yet we heard such comments in the past as…

  • They can’t park.
  • They don’t look where they’re going.
  • They don’t use their turn signal.

All very constructive and not at all chauvinistic…right? This may not even be a problem in the future. But then again, we’re not living in the future.

Look in the distant past and they added comments like “where are they going to change?” “What happens if they fancy one of the mechanics?” Now days these are as likely said about a male driver.

But who really is the Better Driver?

The people most likely to know the answer to this question is insurance companies—they’re constantly running studies on this sort of thing. However, most states seem to have laws forbidding a different insurance rate for men then women.

Okay the truth is it depends on how you figure it. A male student might be just as dangerous behind the wheel as a female student. But men are more likely to pass their test on the first try. In fact, overall when it comes to driving tests, women have been known to fail more often. Sadly for men, this is the only category they dominate.

But men are more likely to be charged with motor offences, if you look at such things as speeding, drunk driving and avoiding proper taxes. And men are more likely to make an insurance claim and more likely to be at fault.

So, legally forcing an end this inequality and prejudice, what happens is that females pay more; such is the price of equality. (This is according to Confused.com’s research.)

Professional Women Drivers:

As noted above, there isn’t a big biological reason why women would need a different league then men in motor sports—and we do find women driving alongside men in professional racing. However, there are not very many of them, in fact Danica Patrick is the only woman with an IndyCar series win (2008 Indy Japan 300).

It begs the question, is the physical demand of professional racing too much for most women. For that answer to that question we go to one of the most physically demanding form of auto racing, Rally Car. What is it like to be a female rally driver? Kathy Legge gets is part of four girl racing team, and this is the question she gets asked the most. She says that she has no idea what it’s like to be a guy driver so it’s hard to compare. Her mantra is “we’re no different, we can do the job.”

But is women racers just a gimmick? Well it’s a new thing, so from that viewpoint, yes it is a gimmick. But there is no reason to expect it won’t become the norm.

Other Female Driving Professionals:

A business that needs female drivers in order to survive is a female only cab service, such as Sakha Cabs.

Many women feel more comfortable in cars driven by women, especially when traveling, and Sakha Cabs is catering to this niche. The firm runs from the Indira Gandhi airport in New Delhi to and from local hotels and tourist destinations. The goal is to market it exclusively to women passengers which not only makes them feel more comfortable, it helps them recruit women cab drivers, who will end up working late nights in a dangerous industry. The would-be drivers are trained in self-defense and speaking English, and of course, driving a cab. There is also a panic button in the cab.

The cars are popular and can average 40 rides in a day.

Filthiness of Motorsports

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Not all motorsports are the same; some of them are dirtier than others. People seem to like this though, getting off the beaten track and exploring.

Whatever type of racing you take part in, it’s almost a certainty that you will have a dirty engine. Now that emissions need to be regulated from a car, it is harder to make changes to a vehicle to improve the speed. Something like trying to break a land speed record could prove almost impossible under these rules.

gokart-1080492_1920One exception is go-kart racing. This is probably the cleanest form of motorsport, especially the new e-kart races. The e-karts actually go faster than regular go-karts (fast is a relative term) but without the sound of the engine it doesn’t quite seem the same.

General speedway is not at all dirty, except for the occasional crash leading to the odd spilling of blood. Stock car racing is similar in that you keep to a track but with more alterations of the car, leading to greater tendency to get covered with dirt.

Which leads to dirt tracks. These tracks are typically a type of clay though any soil may be used. After the race is over the track is watered and combed in order to keep the track usable. In the US, dirt tracks are oval with a banked edge. Elsewhere on the world grass is often used, meaning you may get grass marks on your clothes in addition to mud. Those dry-cleaning bills are really stacking up! 😉race-car-1031767_1920

Perhaps the most dirt is in desert racing. Sand and dirt from other racers hang in the air and an open roll cage cockpit makes it certain that all the dirt lands on you. Also, you’re more likely to repair your own car than general racing and so add grease and oil to the mix, or worse. The heat will affect the tires, so touching them is not a good idea if you can help it. And not all the grime is comping from the outside. (You’re going to sweat).

Some rally racing takes place off road, so here you will have to deal with dirt itself rather than the sand of desert racing. With the presence of rain, this will turn into mud making it even filthier.

off-road-2915957_1920Glistening white snow surrounding ice tracks misleads the casual observer into thinking this must be a relatively clean sport. The tendency to be run over by your own motorbike, however, dispels that idea!

For many racers filthiness and dirt goes with the territory. When it comes to treating your leathers, it is not a good idea to use low grade cleaner as it will crack the hide, making your clothes look oily and greasy. Look for specialist cleaners to do the job.

In racing parlance, “A clean race” is one without cheating, or many crashes. While the term doesn’t refer to one where your uniform gets ruined, it’s an interesting thing to ponder. Perhaps, on second thought, most of us watch races secretly hoping things get dirty.

 

F vs F: Endurance Racing

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When we think of motor racing we think of a few laps around a circuit and the odd pit stop and the slight possibility of a crash. It’s a given that there is a singular driver. Race goers have become so obsessed with Formula One type of driving that they are ignoring other forms of racing. Endurance racing for example. If you are a motorsport aficionado, you might like to seek out this more unusual type of racing.

In an endurance race it is all about how long a team of racers can keep going and how long the equipment (the engine, the wheels, etc.) can hold out. Most endurance racers can last six hours but it is not that unusual for races to last twelve hours or even twenty four. The teams are between two and four participants, who need to take adequate sleeping breaks in order to achieve the best results.

A Brief History of Endurance Racing

The very first endurance race occurred in Coppo Florio in Italy in 1900 with a prize of 500,000 lira (about the equivalent of $25,000 in today’s money) in addition to a cup. Originally it began and ended in Brescia, but 1908 it had changed its route totally, circulating through several places in Bologna such as Castelfranco and San Giovanni.brno-2870695_1920

Although it might be thought as one race it may be more accurate to say it is seven races, with the winner of all seven being awarded the prize. The competition was originally for sports cars, but open wheel cars were finally allowed to take part

(Note: Open wheel cars are cars where the wheels are outside the main body, such as are used in Formula One).

The “Triple Crown” represents one of the greatest accolades an endurance team can go after. If may sound more like a horse racing achievement but it goes to the team that wins the 24 hours of Daytona, 12 hours of Sebring and 24 hours of Le Mans. It’s worth noting that no one has won these races in the same year, it’s more like a lifetime achievement award. The first person to win this trio was the American Phill Hill.

The Circuit

The WeatherTech Sportscar Championship season begins with the 24 hours of Daytona event, continues with the other two Triple Crown events and then goes on to 6 hours of Watkins Glens and Petit Le Mans. To confuse matters, there is also a European and Asian Le Mans series.

The names associated with this kind of racing are not the same as Formula One. For Le Mans each team has a specific sponsor, USA is Dragonspeed and the UK is RLR Msport. There is only a certain number of teams which can enter an event for a country, it might be a bit confusing for the novice to understand.

inline-4039073_1920.jpgOf course endurance racing as a sport goes beyond cars, but even just considering things with wheels you have motorcycles, karts, motorboats, bicycle and even roller skating (the latter is takes place on public roads rather than a race course). If you’ve got the strength of mind to take part in an endurance race there is probably something out there for you.

F vs F: “Ford v Ferrari” The Movie

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Matt Damon and Christian Bale are costar in the new movie this month “Ford v Ferrari.” which is sure to be a fan favorite for car enthusiasts.

Ford_v._Ferrari_282019_film_poster29 Matt Damon plays automotive legend Carol Shelby who is tasked by Henry Ford II and Lee Iaccoca of Ford to settle a score with Enzo Ferrari for not selling his company to Ford in 1963. Enzo might have entertained selling off his brand and the line of custom street machines, but had no interest in selling their racing division. The reason is pretty obvious when you consider that Ferrari won every La Mons from 1960 to 1965.

Together with British Driver, Ken Miles (Bale), Shelby sets out to prove that Ford didn’t need to buy a winning race team to win races. The team of American engineers and designers produce the GT 40 which manages to take the win in La Mons 1966, and bragging rights the likes of which go unrivaled in auto racing.

420px-GT40_at_GoodwoodDirector James Mangold has put together a solid movie that’s fun to watch, not only for great acting but for great performance and racing scenes.

With a budget of $97 million the film makers could have designed the MK II for themselves. (Pictured Left)

 

F v F: Ford Builds it’s Last Car for the Blue Oval

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Last August we mentioned the 50th anniversary of a legendary event in car racing history. But now that they’ve made a movie about the incident it’s worth revisiting the memory, which is a very sweet one for most Americans.

“The Ford GT race car competed in its final 24 Hours of Le Mans as a factory backed team in June, only three years after it rolled back into France with a four-car squad built to kick Ferrari’s teeth in on the 50th anniversary of its legendary 1966 win. It won its class in that race, making the second-coming of the GT a legend for Blue Oval fans.”

 

Click above to watch the race coverage.

Races all have rules, some to keep drivers safe and others simply to keep it one type of race and keep everyone playing by the same rules. What you see below is a car designed to compete on a track where the rule book was thrown to the wind. This is as close to an airplane without a prop that a car can get.

Wings, you ask? You don’t see the wings? Well, they’re their in a sense. Well, listen to its designers from Multimatic, Larry Holt, describe how they produce downforce…”a new dual-element rear wing, a larger front splitter, louvered fenders, new dive planes, and a more prominent rear diffuser…”

Yep, wings, just upside down wings. This MKII is not only a “track only model” its not going to be entering any big races soon. The tires and breaks are especially upgraded to withstand the 2G’s of force it often pulls in corners.

The MK II is a swan song to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford’s Le Mans win, but Ford will be pulling out of future races on this level. If you’ve been following the news lately you know Ford will focus on trucks.

If you’d like to own one of these limited edition (only 45 made) MK II’s it’ll cost you roughly $1.2 million.  If you do buy one, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE drop us a like and let us test drive it!