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The Air Filter

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Viewers of Grand Prix in recent years can’t fail to have noticed the increasing amount of debris littering the sides of the track as the race proceeds. Clearly this is the inevitable result of the high rates of tyre degradation and wear during the race, designed to ’spice up’ the on-track action. However such debris can be a serious hazard to the internals of an internal combustion engine. And where perhaps I can think of many applications in the past when racers...

The airbox

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For an engine to deliver its maximum performance it needs an adequate supply of cold, dense air. In a dynamometer test cell with good ventilation, engine air intake temperatures should not be an issue and are generally around that of the ambient air. When the engine is settled into the confined place of the engine bay of a race machine or nestling under the hood of a passenger car, however, the situation is most likely very different. In such instances cold, clean air may have to be ducted...

Variable intake

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The CAN-AM series of the late 1960s and early '70s made a big impression on a younger me, and may in part have kindled my passion for high-performance engines. An 8.1 litre Oldsmobile unit on the dynamometer test stand at Imperial College London and its thunderous roar as it fired into life was one of those evocative sights that has remained with me for more than 40 years. But apart from the sight and the sound of it all - and the stream of huge sparks coming from the electric starter...

Barrel, butterfly or slide?

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Arguably the most critical part of the interface between man and machine is that of the engine throttle. Designed to restrict the flow of air to the engine by balancing the rate of working of our spark ignition unit against that demanded by the driver, the throttle has evolved and matured over the history of motorsport. In essence, the options available over this time have been barrel, butterfly or slide, and although slide throttles were very popular at one time their propensity to stick...

The turbocharger revolution - using electric motors

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The phenomenon of turbo lag could eventually become a thing of the past if current developments come to fruition. The inherent characteristic of a turbocharged power unit - referring to the initial delay between pressing the throttle pedal and the arrival of power at the driven wheels - can be of great concern, and is often one of the obstacles to a wider uptake of the technology. It is somehow easy to forget that when turbochargers last ruled the roost in Formula One, many OE engine...