The author has provided a practical review of the theory and practice of aerodynamics in motor racing. The book follows the proven Haynes format of supporting text with lavish illustration, using colour were appropriate through the book and supporting photographs with graphs and drawings. The result is a book that caters for several levels of interest and skill in its chosen subject.
NAME: Competition Car Aerodynamics, second edition
CLASSIFICATION: Book reviews
AUTHOR: Simon Mcbeath
PUBLISHER: Haynes Publishing
BINDING: Hard back
SUBJECT: race car, fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, technology, race car engineering, Formula 1, GT, saloon cars, single seater, karts
DESCRIPTION: The first edition in 2006 was a very important insight into race car engineering and this second edition has been extensively revised and expanded to include the state of the race car industry since the first edition was written. There is sufficient revision to make this a book that those who purchased the first edition will want to acquire. The consideration of aerodynamics is as old as race and record cars. In the early years of automotive racing, there was an appreciation that a flowing design of body was an advantage, but the speeds achieved made any streamlining marginal and there was no formal aerodynamic science with test facilities. As a result, drivers and designers worked on the principle that if the car looked right it was. A similar approach was taken to aircraft design, although test tanks were already in use to assist boat and ship designers to improve hull design in the broadly similar study of hydrodynamics, where the denser environment of water made hydrodynamics significant even at low speeds. The pioneering work was done by the aviation industry as it was realized that the cross section of wings and fuselage played a major role in the success of aircraft. Wind tunnels came into widespread use to test full size aircraft and scale models. By looking at a selection of aircraft designs from the Wright Brothers’ first powered aircraft to Concorde and the SR 71 Blackbird, it is easy to see how aircraft designers developed their knowledge of aerodynamics to produce fast, robust aircraft that could take full advantage of engine developments. The early aircraft came in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, some looking very fragile and dubious. Even control surfaces could be very different before the aviation industry adopted a small number of typical shapes and began to standardize on the types of control surface in common use. From the earliest days of flight, it was appreciated that the characteristics that made an aircraft efficient in the critical stages of take off and landing, could reduce efficiency during the cruise phase of a flight. As a result, aircraft soon boasted forms of variable geometry, as control surfaces and flaps began to provide the means to optimise the aircraft at each stage of a flight. As the stall was better understood, aircraft that needed further assistance in short and slow speed take off and landing were fitted with leading edge slats on the wings and as combat aircraft developed, ways of altering airflow over the aircraft structure were developed to enable the aircraft to operate close to the limits of stability. When the computer developed, aircraft came to be designed as dynamically unstable, the computer translating the pilots’ intensions to keep the aircraft in the air. Many of the principles developed for aviation have been applied to race cars, land record breakers and mass produced road cars. The cost is significant and the advantages relatively minor. That has made the race car a critical experimental machine to prove new technologies that can later be adopted for volume produced road cars. As road cars are usually limited in the speed permitted on public roads, aerodynamics produce very modest advantages in performance and the major contribution has been in reducing wind noise but, as the preoccupation with energy saving continues, any technical solution that squeezes extra mileage out of each measure of fuel takes on a great significance. For race cars, aerodynamics become very important as speeds of 200 mph become normal. Aerodynamics squeeze the last few miles per hour and the last few miles per litre that can be the difference between first and second place. Aerodynamics also plays a critical role in road holding and traction, allowing a vehicle to be driven safely at much higher speeds. Race cars are now at the point where variable geometry under computer control is technically viable and can produce further advantage in competition. The author has provided a practical review of the theory and practice of aerodynamics in motor racing. The book follows the proven Haynes format of supporting text with lavish illustration, using colour were appropriate through the book and supporting photographs with graphs and drawings. The result is a book that caters for several levels of interest and skill in its chosen subject. The skilled engineer will find information of value, but the novice will find an introduction to an important subject that is easy to follow and will develop a firm understanding of the place that aerodynamics plays in the design and use of high performance vehicles and the advantages that derive even for the much slower family car. An enjoyable and absorbing book.