The Crowdsourced Vision Of Racing Doesn't Have Brakes

Ask a dozen people what the future of racing will look like and you'll get a dozen different answers. But if you take the best ideas, hand them to renowned racecar designer Sergio Rinland, and tell him to create something amazing, you get this. And no brakes.

The Dunlop Future Race Car Challenge was a collaborative design project that took fans, engineers, and experts and asked them to envision what racing could look like. That was distilled by Rinland, who's done design work for both Grand Prix and Le Mans teams, and the result is a streamlined, closed-cockpit racer with both active aerodynamics and tires, an energy recovery system that does away with brakes, and an electric power plant that brings slot cars to life.

The ERS replacing the brakes is actually the least insane part of the project. By using four hub-mounted motors with torque vectoring and regeneration, the energy would be stored in flywheels – which Porsche has already done – or in always-promising super-capacitors.

The adaptive aerodynamics hold some promise, too, with piezoelectric materials built into the composite body panels. The body work would get an electric pulse based on lots of sensors and even more math – or even the location on track – and increase or decrease drag and downforce. There's also something about nanoparticles, so… that's cool.

As for the powertrain, Rinland and his collaborators started with the idea of a hydrogen fuel-cell combined with a lithium-ion battery. But the ultimate goal is to fit the car with an induction charging system. With that and a track outfitted with pads wirelessly sending energy to the cars, there's no need to store juice on board for long periods of time. Less battery = less weight.

Naturally, this being an exercise from Dunlop, the tires are wonderfully absurd. First, they change shape. If the track is wet, they get grooves. If it's dry and the car is hustling through a bend, they can change their footprint for maximum grip. OK. But what's more impressive – and probably more feasible – is that each tire has a brace of sensors that send every conceivable metric to onboard computers. Those systems would change suspension damping, braking performance, and how much twist each wheel would get.

The ideas are great. And they look solidish on paper. Whether they can hold up to the rigors of racing is the real question, but it does improve the breed.