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Haas Builds Rolling Road Wind Tunnel

Illustration for article titled Haas Builds Rolling Road Wind Tunnel

Aerodymics play an ever greater role as racecars start hitting ridiculous speeds. Wind tunnel testing can help figure out what's going on, but wind traveling at 200 and something miles per hour likes to try to stick to the floor of the wind tunnel, and creates an error in readings. The race car usually makes this same ground disappear in a hurry as it rolls. Haas CNC Racing NASCAR team owner Gene Haas in conjunction with Jacobs Engineering has created the first rolling road testing facility in the United States known as WindShear Inc. The one-millimeter thick continuous steel belt will roll at over 180mph, and features sensors under the bed that can take readings at each wheel. At top speed the wind tunnel fan will circulate 2.85 million cubic feet of air per minute! The facility will be available for rental to motorsports teams and manufacturers when it opens later this year. And yes, that's a genuine actual-size race car up on the rollers. Second photo for scale after the jump. Don't forget earplugs.

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[Thanks to Ed Iskenderian himself for the tip]

Haas CNC Machining Magazine [HaasCNC.com]

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Illustration for article titled Haas Builds Rolling Road Wind Tunnel

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DISCUSSION

Actually, it is not the first rolling-road wind tunnel in the US. NASA has at least one, as does AAR, and many others. It may however be the first full-size (rather than model scale) rolling-road facility.

In answer to Retiree, there are several of these in Europe. Most of the F1 teams have a full-size tunnel now, and several regular car manufacturers do too (although they often have a 5-belt system).

As to the use of one of these, the engine does not run - the movement of the belt turns the wheels. The front wheels are locked in position, after carefully setting the toe so that the car runs straight and is not generating lots of side-force on the belt. Side force from sticky racing tires can push the belt off sideways at speed. But the safety systems in these rolling roads can stop it dead amazingly quickly.