One reason why the world of car racing is so exciting is that the technology is constantly evolving. Every year, teams invest a considerable amount of money into research and development, hoping that their engineers will come up with innovative solutions to improve their cars’ performance. In all the major racing series, including Formula 1, LeMans or NASCAR, even a single year can make a huge difference in terms of how a car looks, feels and, of course, drives.
If you’re interested in automotive careers or are already pursuing auto mechanic training, chances are you’ll enjoy learning more about what goes on beneath the hood of some of the most advanced cars on Earth. Here are the latest innovations in the world of racecar technology.
In Formula 1, cars are regulated heavily to ensure that the technology they use doesn’t allow for unfair competitive advantages. For example, cars are allowed to consume fuel at a maximum rate of 100 kg per hour. These regulations create interesting dynamics, in that teams are constantly looking for improvements that are within the rules. Today’s F1 cars use hybrid engines, and drivers can tap into the additional power for a small boost. A hybrid engine can recover kinetic energy in real-time and then store it as electrical energy in lithium-polymer batteries. Interestingly, the most recent engines have downgraded slightly in terms of raw performance. F1 cars used to be equipped with V8 engines capable of 18,000 RPM (rotations-per-minute). The new V6 engines that power this year’s crop are capable of ‘only’ 15,000 rotations, but the balance the engine strikes with the rest of the vehicle is much better. Though 2014 Montreal F1 Grand Prix took place a few weeks ago, fans are no doubt already waiting for the 2015 edition, which will take place on June 1st of next year.
In LeMans, Audi is one of the most interesting automakers to follow, as the automaker employs the best engineers from some of the finest auto mechanic schools in the world. As a result, you never quite know what they’ll have in store. Case in point: the Audi’s R18 e-tron is a totally unique car that features a highly efficient diesel engine as well as a top-of-the-line hybrid power system. With this car, Audi wants to prove that today’s LeMans can be won not by being the fastest car on the road, but by being the most efficient one. The R18 e-tron features a quattro all-wheel drive hybrid system that uses electricity to steer the front axle. The car is also extremely innovative in other ways. For example, it uses laser headlights that are not only bright, but adaptive. Unlike traditional lights, which simply shine a path ahead of the car, the laser headlights are guided by GPS.
Though NASCAR is less technology-driven than the other major racing series, as all drivers use the same standard car model authorised by NASCAR, the vehicles are still interesting in other ways. The cars are now incredibly advanced and sophisticated in terms of impact design, to protect the drivers from the kinds of crashes that can happen when you drive at breakneck speed in close proximity to other drivers. Since NASCAR is all about aerodynamic efficiency, the cars’ design are also influenced by advanced metrics such as computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel research. For NASCAR fans located in Montreal or elsewhere in Quebec, we highly recommend checking out the Trois-Rivières Grand Prix, which will take place from August 7th to August 10th.