AERODYNAMICS IN CARS Aerodynamics has always been around. People have always been discovering ways to make things travel better and faster through air. Ever since the first man put a sharpened rock on the end of a spear or arrow or made a boomerang come back. Now days people understand the concepts of why certain shapes work better.
In aerodynamics new discoveries are being made every day. Aerodynamics is often used in sports. New ideas and discoveries can change the way athletes are able to perform. Without aerodynamics in sports, balls would fall faster and cars would go slower. The importance of aerodynamics has been known throughout most of automobile racing history. In the early days of the Indianapolis 500 cars were built with streamlined bodies.
However, engine, suspension, and tire technologies were more important, at that time. Automobile aerodynamics was not studied closely until the early 1960’s. Drag reduction is still important, but a new concept has been introduced: production of an aerodynamic down force, which is thought to be more important than drag reduction. Aerodynamics is essential to wining a race. A race car has to fight the other cars but shouldn’t have to fight the air. So the formula one designers used knowledge of aerodynamics to decrease the vehicles fight with the friction imposed by the surrounding air or drag.
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Also aerodynamics is used to create a shape that will create a strong downward force. Indy cars need this because at such high speeds the tires may not grip the roadway, or at its very worst the air pushing up on the bottom of the car will flip it over. Due to all these factors pushing the engineers they have molded the modern formula one race car. They designed it to have minimum drag, maximum air flow to the engine, and optimum downward force. The wing like shape of the body accomplishes this. This shape not only looks similar to a wing but it operates similarly.
This shape provides a cutting edge to divide up the passing air and a long smooth surface for it to run along. The main difference is it operates upside down. With an airplane this would provide an upward force but now it provides a downward force, which as mentioned is needed for the success of a race car. In the end the aerodynamics of racing will continue to go on from looking for a new and unusually different designs to modify the same design for peak performance and safety.