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Old 06-28-2011, 12:21 AM   #1
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Default Trickle down engineering....

It used to be, WAY back in the day, that racing was for the development of making consumer cars better. Especially if the race program had factory support.

It was the crazy, try something new, see how it does, sky is the limit engineering dream to make things better for everyone. Perhaps not immediately, but down the road as manufacturing costs diminished over time.

Now, I look at rules, and how they choke the imagination. I see things that I can't imagine ever seeing use in a consumer car (ok, sure some of that was always true). I hear stories about complete separation of race engineering and production engineering.

I gotta be honest, I'm starting to lose faith in racing programs that we'll someday see some of this really cool stuff.

Am I losing my faith in this prematurely? Are there things out there that will help make things better for everyone? Am I missing something here?
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Old 06-28-2011, 01:49 AM   #2
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I was having a discussion about this today as a co-worker is looking to go to Formula 1 with some old colleagues of his...we got into an entire discussion of trickle down and I started my largest gripe with NASCAR....the fact that all that engineering work and money on engine programs is wasted on old, dead, technology.

We also discussed how F1 in particular happers any innovation made. Oh and the fact that Ferrari bitched about making a 4-cyl turbo F1 engine

I'm glad GDI is finally becoming mainstream although too late IMO. I was using it and E85 in my college senior project back in 06 (various differences) and after that it was still punished in LeMans and is just now being allowed into WRC as it's becoming mainstream in new models

Race engineering and production engineering have always been different and don't overlap at the same time because of the end means of both. The race engineering does back trickle to development and then to production, YEARS later.
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Old 06-28-2011, 07:31 AM   #3
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the rate of development is going to slow down to allow more teams to stay in their respective sports. The regulations in most of the leagues are to keep the competition tight, regardless of development. Things cost more now, and if it gets too expensive to win, then teams will leave, and fields would diminish.... etc.

The thing with Ferrari i agree with, sorry. They have no use for a 4 cyl turbo technology. so why would they want to be forced to spend millions building a motor that will give them zero use outside of racing.

That said, it might be a case of less creative teams out there. People try to follow a typical program so they know they have a chance, and be in the running. So they don't lose their sponsorship money after the first event. You don't see too many risk takers, with wild ideas.

I wonder if we look towards the European spec series if they are getting a little more out of their racing programs? I don't know too much about them, but their is pretty good factory support for touring car series over there.
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:20 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Turn in Concepts View Post
It used to be, WAY back in the day, that racing was for the development of making consumer cars better. Especially if the race program had factory support.

It was the crazy, try something new, see how it does, sky is the limit engineering dream to make things better for everyone. Perhaps not immediately, but down the road as manufacturing costs diminished over time.

Now, I look at rules, and how they choke the imagination. I see things that I can't imagine ever seeing use in a consumer car (ok, sure some of that was always true). I hear stories about complete separation of race engineering and production engineering.

I gotta be honest, I'm starting to lose faith in racing programs that we'll someday see some of this really cool stuff.

Am I losing my faith in this prematurely? Are there things out there that will help make things better for everyone? Am I missing something here?
Can you be more specific in which racing programs you are losing faith in?

The criteria of what makes a race car good and what makes a road car good have always been different. There are some things that trickle down, like DCCD but these will always be limited because although everyone thinks they want straight cut gears, they really don't. What specific innovations used in racing would you like to see trickle down to road cars?
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:26 AM   #5
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With the specmanship of all of the series today, there is not much people can do. The rules pretty much define the entire car now. Most racing is business (entertainment and marketing), not a sport for the sake of racing or development.

That is not to say there is no corss over anymore. Some details can still be developed, like cylinder coatings for example.

The comment about NASCAR engines being old dead technology I have to disagree with. If you want to say that a carburator is outdated for road use, that's fine. To say the 2-valve push rod configuration is dead is not the case as many street cars still use this. It may not be the direct-injected 4-valve-per-cylinder DOHC with variable variable geometry you want, but that does not mean they use dead technology. The design and manufacturing of the NASCAR engines are state of the art. Their capabilites and efficiencies are on par with some of the best out there. This is coming from someone who loves racing, but doesn't watch hardly any NASCAR (road course only).

As for the 4-cylinder F1 engine, its not the engine I have a problem with. Its the FIA. The motivation for the new engine is political, and has nothing to do with engineering or racing. What's the alternative...to continue with a locked engine design for the forseeable future? Thats a bad proposition too. Personally, I want to see multiple architechture options which can lead to a variety. It used to be that mfrs had their own designs and multiple configurations would battle it out with certain advantages and disadvantages. When everyone has essentially the same equipment you end up with what we have now.

Want to see the old school spirit if racing, look to the simpler amatuer series (not SCCA).
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:27 AM   #6
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another thought I had was, most people could care less about good suspension travel in a sport tuned road car. They want a car that's easy to drive, cheap to run, and looks nice. hence why you see cheap struts, with 4" tall bump stops, compromised geometry.

the few cars that actually have good engineering cost too much money for the average person to care to look at. And those few of us that would care, can't afford it
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:26 AM   #7
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the rate of development is going to slow down to allow more teams to stay in their respective sports. The regulations in most of the leagues are to keep the competition tight, regardless of development. Things cost more now, and if it gets too expensive to win, then teams will leave, and fields would diminish.... etc.
The tighter you restrict the rules, the more money you have to spend to get every % of power from something. I do engine development for a living, I know how this works. We're pushing old engines into new emissions, fuel economy and power strangle holds to hold off on what would be a better design for current goals...2017 or so

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The thing with Ferrari i agree with, sorry. They have no use for a 4 cyl turbo technology. so why would they want to be forced to spend millions building a motor that will give them zero use outside of racing.
I could see two 4-cyl engines being slapped together at a 90* angle to bring back a livery of the F40
I really don't see how a small V6 is any benefit to them either.

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The comment about NASCAR engines being old dead technology I have to disagree with. If you want to say that a carburator is outdated for road use, that's fine. To say the 2-valve push rod configuration is dead is not the case as many street cars still use this. It may not be the direct-injected 4-valve-per-cylinder DOHC with variable variable geometry you want, but that does not mean they use dead technology.
Ignoring Chevy and Chrylser, who still runs push rod 2V motors? Notice the only two manufacturers that also had to be bailed out as their is now way to correlate that engine data to a main stream fuel economy car or making more power in a smaller engine. Yes, they can make their trucks more efficient but hell I can do way better with a diesel. Maybe Nascar should then race diesels I also know the SBC can make more power with more modern valvetrain, direct injection and have better fuel economy. There is no arguing that fact.

I'm by no means knocking the level of engineering involved as having friends running test cells for Rousch, Yates and Earhardt/Childress; I probably have a better idea of it than you.
The technology they use may still be in existence for one or two of the leauge's manufacturers but those engines are a dieing breed and everyone knows it. Motorsports should be pushing future and current technology and have ROI to the manufacturer and customer if you ask me....especially when it's one that we had to bailout
Ford started walking away from push rod in production engines in 95...Toyota never used them for current line of V8's.

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Originally Posted by JMS Landshark View Post
Personally, I want to see multiple architechture options which can lead to a variety. It used to be that mfrs had their own designs and multiple configurations would battle it out with certain advantages and disadvantages. When everyone has essentially the same equipment you end up with what we have now.
I completely one million % agree. I think they should simply put in a NA displacement cap and a forced induction displacment cap. Then you put on a rev cap and you have two boxes to work within....GO...I'd also say only one configuration (i.e. Turbo inline 5, NA V8, supercharged V4) per manufacturer otherwise we'd see several engine types for each manufacturer.

Open box thinking drives innovation. Pros and cons get calculated, engines simulated and then a 'best fit' is found.



I point out solely the engine as we know that in current times, this is the single biggest directly convertable data that is applicable to manufacturer's and today's market...
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:57 PM   #8
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Ignoring Chevy and Chrylser, who still runs push rod 2V motors? Notice the only two manufacturers that also had to be bailed out as their is now way to correlate that engine data to a main stream fuel economy car or making more power in a smaller engine. Yes, they can make their trucks more efficient but hell I can do way better with a diesel. Maybe Nascar should then race diesels I also know the SBC can make more power with more modern valvetrain, direct injection and have better fuel economy. There is no arguing that fact.

I'm by no means knocking the level of engineering involved as having friends running test cells for Rousch, Yates and Earhardt/Childress; I probably have a better idea of it than you.
The technology they use may still be in existence for one or two of the leauge's manufacturers but those engines are a dieing breed and everyone knows it. Motorsports should be pushing future and current technology and have ROI to the manufacturer and customer if you ask me....especially when it's one that we had to bailout
Ford started walking away from push rod in production engines in 95...Toyota never used them for current line of V8's.
I didn't say push rod was superior, I said it wasn't dead technology. If 2 major OEMs are using it to make good power, decent fuel economy, meeting emissions, while making the customer happy...then its not dead. That technology is also used in other arenas and applications. Just because its not the latest, doesn't mean its dead. A point we can agree on is that they wouldn't be the achiteture they are if the rules didn't mandate it.

The point I was mainly getting at is that the designers are not sitting on an old technology with old equipment and practices. It is modern and even impressive what they have done with these engines. I also have spent some time working with a colleague that is a engine design engineer for Rousch. He designs the cup engines. If you are involved with their design, you know they use the latest design practices, manufacturing processes, materials, coatings, etc within the rules to put their engine at the top of its game. As a simple example, they design different cranks for specific track sypes for low MOI, or high stiffness, etc. (which I'm sure you already knew). What I find funny is the ban on bolt on tungsten crank wieghts, which meant they were reusable. Now with that ban, the weights are fused and not resueable making them more expenive.
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Old 06-28-2011, 01:33 PM   #9
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on the topic of Ferrari complaining about using a turbo 4, when was the last time any F1 manufacturer got to use their F1 engine in a street car, I don't see why it should matter? Heck Ferrari and maybe Mercedes have been the only ones that could even use anything close to their race engines in a production car and even then they are still miles apart.... most manufactures have very little to gain for production cars by building F1 cars, Ferrari is probably the one car manufacturer that has benefited the most over the years.
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Old 06-28-2011, 01:56 PM   #10
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Ferrari is doing quite well with their low displacement V8's in production cars right now.

Could be doing better but they have plenty of market share

Guess Ferrari doesn't really want to build a better Dino if they don't want a turbo four.

I would rather top level motorsports rules support development that makes real cars better. It seems to me they spend way too much money chasing stuff that real cars can't use just because they have to. Blown rear diffusers in F1 being a good example.

Money would be much better spent if the rules could funnel development interest in the tech that is obviously related to what car customers do.

I'm thinking fuel efficiency, suspension design, chassi design and rigidity, aero work (mostly drag reducing I guess), There are so many ways racing could be made profitable and (more) beneficial.

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Old 06-28-2011, 01:59 PM   #11
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Look no further than the WRC. They took the most exciting form of motorsports and turned it into a snooze fest by restricting the crap out of everything. Unfortunately they had to do it because manufacturers couldn't afford the millions it cost to develop and race a WRC car. Now they have record numbers of entries, but the cars are all the same and it's very boring if you ask me.

On the other hand, I think there are still examples of trickle down technology out there. Porsche's KERS is probably the best recent example. It started out in F1, and then made it's way into a 911 GT3 race car, and now they are putting it into the 918 and supposedly the next 911 as well. Racing is still the best way to prove out a new technology but unfortunately developing new technology is expensive and the current economic climate means most teams can't afford to innovate. The racing series have had to choose between keeping things exciting by letting teams do what they want, or keeping things profitable by locking teams into one car type which more teams can afford. Most have chosen to go for the profits, and I think the entire sport has suffered for it.
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Old 06-28-2011, 02:32 PM   #12
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I never thought I'd be the optimistic one, but I like where a lot of motorsports are at right now.

Le Mans: What a great racing series. Tight, highly competitive racing from multiple reputable car manufacturers. Audi and Peugeot up top, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche, Chevy all with competitive mid-level cars. They are constantly pushing the boundaries and testing new stuff. Stuff not trickling down? What about the corvettes, 911, 458s? Aero, suspension, motor stuff for the road cars are directly influenced from their race cars.

F1: I've read that the reason the turbo four-pot was on the cards was because of Audi. They promised to enter the game if that became the engine standard. After they went back on their word, everybody was happy to have the V-6. If anything the v-6 is much easier to package than an I-4 (think spaceframe, load-bearing component, turbo location, etc).

I think the tighter the restriction, the MORE innovative people need to be to get around it. Look at all the crazy ideas that F1 has had. Blown diffusers, mass dampeners, F-ducts. Admittedly, a lot of this is not roadcar applicable
But there's a lot of trickle down tech that comes through. Carbon brakes, semi-automatic transmissions, active suspensions, variable valve timing, ABS.

I forgot where I read it, but they had an "unlimited" formula one. The engineers basically came up with skirted, 3000+hp turbine powered, <500Kg, eight-wheeled cars that pulled fighter-jet level Gs. Long story short, undriveable, poor sounding, deathtraps. lol.

Don
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Old 06-28-2011, 04:32 PM   #13
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2 years ago Porsche put a KERS in a GT3R hybrid that ran the 24 Hours of the Ring. Next year they will be offering this system on their production vehicles. How is that not racing transferring to the street?
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Old 06-28-2011, 06:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Turn in Concepts View Post
It used to be, WAY back in the day, that racing was for the development of making consumer cars better. Especially if the race program had factory support.

It was the crazy, try something new, see how it does, sky is the limit engineering dream to make things better for everyone. Perhaps not immediately, but down the road as manufacturing costs diminished over time.

Now, I look at rules, and how they choke the imagination. I see things that I can't imagine ever seeing use in a consumer car (ok, sure some of that was always true). I hear stories about complete separation of race engineering and production engineering.

I gotta be honest, I'm starting to lose faith in racing programs that we'll someday see some of this really cool stuff.

Am I losing my faith in this prematurely? Are there things out there that will help make things better for everyone? Am I missing something here?
It isn't as much the sanctioning bodies fault as it is the fault of the fans and the lack of tobacco sponsorships. In the 70's 80's and early 90's, privateer teams had a share of sponsorship to compete with manufacturer budgets, due to either getting tobacco sponsorship directly, or landing sponsorship that is now with bigger teams because of the sponsorship climate. Now that that is gone and the focus is toward parity and lower costs, the rules have to reflect the same attitudes. USAC could have easily changed the course of AOWR in 1976 by allowing mid engine sprint cars, thus helping develop their drivers toward a changing IndyCar. But they stayed the course because the car counts were down and the fans weren't watching. 35 years of hate and anger, destruction and incompetence, could have been avoided if some people had been brave enough to accept change.


The purist fans that are loudest against change to the racing that they follow kill potentially brilliant ideas. For instance, many loathe fully electric power and diesel power to an extent because they don't make any noise. However valid this suggestion may be, the fact is that fully electric power(especially if it were implemented in F1) not only creates an environment where the research and development is in hyperdrive, but it also helps eliminate one of the foremost problems facing smaller racetracks today, and that's the threat of noise ordinances.
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Old 06-28-2011, 06:46 PM   #15
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I put the year that the paradigm shift from racing being about refinement rather than innovation as 1994. GTP/Group C was dead, and F1 began the banning of innovative technologies in the name of "cost savings" (Active ride height being the starting point). The CART/IRL battle was starting to take hold, and NASCAR got it's stranglehold on being the big racing series in the USA. BTCC was arguably at its peak at that time, with a pretty restricvtive rule set that (as NASCAR's did) provide close, entertaining racing at the cost of innovation. Racing then became about entertainment rather than going fast, as that's where the money was.

In defense of the BTCC/NASCAR operating theory, the "good old days" usually didn't provide particularly close racing. For those complaining now about how boring F1 is to watch because you know the outcome, go look at some of the results form the mid-80's F1 races when McLaren/Honda was at their peak. The qualifying gap to the next cars on the grid were frequently 2+ seconds/lap, and the races were a foregone conclusion except when Senna and Prost took each other out. IMSA GTP and Group C weren't much better as far as closeness of competition goes.
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Old 06-28-2011, 06:46 PM   #16
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Now with that ban, the weights are fused and not resueable making them more expenive.
Yup, you have to the love the shortsightedness of the non-technical penny pinchers
To match the variable twist of the cranks, they also offest the timing of the individual cams to match the twist of the crank at targeted powerband range. Yeah lots of money, big brains and the best toys.
I'm honestly thinking about seeing if I can get a test cell gig with a team somewhere. I miss the track.

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on the topic of Ferrari complaining about using a turbo 4, when was the last time any F1 manufacturer got to use their F1 engine in a street car, I don't see why it should matter? Heck Ferrari and maybe Mercedes have been the only ones that could even use anything close to their race engines in a production car and even then they are still miles apart.... most manufactures have very little to gain for production cars by building F1 cars, Ferrari is probably the one car manufacturer that has benefited the most over the years.
See, to make the small displacement engine viable, I think they should make a large slap on the rules and cap 10,000 RPM redline or put a mandatory minimal stroke. Basically they'll target right around 25 m/s mean piston speed for either rule. Then you can more directly relate to the advances made. Force them into a relatable box. It also pushes the engineers in another way from the standard short stroke, big bore, insanely high RPM's that only 600cc bikes relate to
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:39 PM   #17
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2 years ago Porsche put a KERS in a GT3R hybrid that ran the 24 Hours of the Ring. Next year they will be offering this system on their production vehicles. How is that not racing transferring to the street?
I think that is special case mainly because that car was raced literally in a class of its own with no competition.
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Old 06-29-2011, 01:10 AM   #18
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I don't think that trickle down has ever been a primary goal of racing. Racing sponsorship is much more about promoting a brand than trying to develop cool new ideas for your road cars. Sure there will be some trickle down from any high end engineering - racing, the space program, even military technology - but that's a nice by-product not a primary goal.
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Old 06-29-2011, 01:28 AM   #19
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I think that is special case mainly because that car was raced literally in a class of its own with no competition.
I think it's a good example, It may be at the upper end but it shows things may work. Really though, it is kind-of vapor-ware. Not by much but I'd like to see it on a Lupo or something else, as standard equipment.

Sometimes you have to be the special case car. Mid-engine layouts weren't always the fastest way around an F1 track. Eventually, I think That design established itself. Speaking of Gurney, I love the Delta idea. Another example in it's infancy.

Wish it didn't take so much time to tell all these cool fun questions in this day and age. Get busy on cool stuff you engineers!!!
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:43 AM   #20
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There are a couple of good examples I can think of in recent times of racing technology being directly linked to street cars. The first is diesel engine tech. It hasn't fully caught on in the US yet, but Audi (and now Peugot) have brought their clean diesel technology a long way with the help of their LMP program.

Another good example is composite manufacturing. Through racing, many manufacturers have refined their production processes, making it possible for the cost of lightweight composites to become reasonable for use in production cars. I think this will be a huge part of the automotive industry in the coming decades...as fuel mileage requirements go up, the weight of production cars will go down.
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Old 06-29-2011, 11:00 AM   #21
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Look no further than the WRC. They took the most exciting form of motorsports and turned it into a snooze fest by restricting the crap out of everything. Unfortunately they had to do it because manufacturers couldn't afford the millions it cost to develop and race a WRC car. Now they have record numbers of entries, but the cars are all the same and it's very boring if you ask me.
I am going to assume you are comparing Group B to all cars that came after it...because if you are comparing the cars before this season, to the current spec wrc car, I just can't imagine how you think it's not the most exciting season in the past 5 or 6 years.
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Old 06-29-2011, 07:54 PM   #22
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I think there's been plenty of trickle down from racing. Look at DBW(which I know some of your loathe but I LOVE DBW). I'm sure there's plenty more but I wouldn't know the exacts. Probably has slowed down recently but that's cause cars have become so advance already and the racing scene isn't what it used to be. Also the direction of cars being more fuel efficient and government regulations. I think the combination of those 3 things is why we don't see it as much anymore.
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:31 PM   #23
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I think that is special case mainly because that car was raced literally in a class of its own with no competition.
I think that's his entire point. It had no competition because it had no proper class because innovation like that is outlawed in racing. But they built it, they tested it on the racetrack, and now it's coming to street cars. THAT is what racing SHOULD be.
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:02 PM   #24
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What about tires?

-Mike
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:57 PM   #25
ptclaus98
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Originally Posted by grippgoat View Post
What about tires?

-Mike
Sadly, as the performance reaches peak levels, you'll end up seeing more series like IndyCar and various touring car series going the F1 route and expecting the tire manufacturers to come up with purposefully compromised tires. Sportscars should stay safe from this as they are the last place where tire wars are still in effect.
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