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The modern racing car gearbox

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It can be sobering to sit back and consider what we ask of a racing car gearbox when we require it to perform a structural role as well as functioning as a change speed box... Generally the loads that we will ask it to absorb are a significant proportion of, or even a multiple of all up vehicle weight, and they will act in a variety of directions and combinations. First, if it is to do its job of providing the rearmost section of chassis, we ask it to take the same torsional loading as the...

Its all in the tip

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According to Dr Andy Randolph, engine technical director at NASCAR championship contenders Earnhardt Childress Racing, the interesting period for pushrod development was a couple of years ago. “Many teams were looking into alternative materials for a stiffer, yet lighter solution, compared to the traditional chrome moly steel” that had been in use for many years. Dr Randolph notes that the exotic materials solutions produced some beneficial effects, but to his mind, the...

The sting is in the beehive

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Donn Rickard was designing valve springs even before 1981, when he started R/D Valve Springs in Hesperia, California. A veteran of the racing game, Rickard is responsible for design work and farms out his actual manufacturing to Performance Springs, Inc. in Michigan, known throughout the industry by their acronym, PSI. “In the late 1990s I helped design the current racing valve spring and it really hasn’t changed much over the years. It is still made of an alloy silicon chrome...

Profiles critical to performance: Part 2

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Following on from my recent article on valve-head profiles, we will look a little further into the valve-head profile, and how this is applied to the modern Formula One engine. As speeds rose above 20,000 rpm in Formula One, this was an area of intense development, but the pressure has been slightly removed owing to the decrease in speeds as imposed by the yearly rev-cut regulation. Into the third year after the 20,000 rpm race engines of 2006, we now have a mandated 18,000 rpm engine...

Emerging Materials

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The field of materials and metallurgy has a big role to play in racing engine design, especially in those categories where the regulations allow emerging materials to be used. Unfortunately Formula One is now very limited in this respect and, before engine development was frozen, people worked hard and spent lots of money to get materials close to the imposed limits, especially the specific modulus rule where a maximum of 40GPa g-1 cm3 applies to metallic materials. There is always a push...