Keeping race cars grounded to the ground requires thorough aerodynamic engineering and research. That can lead to both crazy-successful aero pieces and some totally sci-fi technological dead-ends. These ten wind-cutting cars fit in perfectly.
10.) Modern DTM Cars
Without the various air channels and diffusers, DTM wouldn’t be DTM. On the outside, these race cars have evolved into insanely technical pieces of machinery that when outside of a race track, basically live in a wind tunnel. DTM cars might slightly resemble their road car counterparts with lights, grills, badging, and that sort of stuff, but that’s about it.
Suggested By: Th4d0s, Photo Credit: Audi
9.) 2015 Honda IndyCar Wing Kit
If Futurama’s Zoidberg was a race car, he would undoubtedly be an IndyCar outfitted with Honda’s aero kit. I’m not even sure Honda could slap more wings and aero pieces in this kit even if they wanted to. At least it’s functional!
8.) Outlaw Figure-8 Cars
The tall and transparent wings outfitted to these crazy Outlaw race cars keeps them going around the tight figure-eight courses without issue. But they sure as hell don’t help when the race cars t-bone one another at those maniacal intersections in the middle of the course. Just, wow.
Suggested By: Axel-Ripper
7.) McLaren MP4-20
See those little horn-like winglets next to the central air intake? Back when McLaren showed up on-track with them, many doubted that they had any actual aerodynamic benefits whatsoever. Reader Porschefan1572 is one of those people:
When I visited Woking, I got a tour and a history of every McLaren vehicle. The 2005 McLaren f1 car MP4-20, had two little wings on the air box. These wings had no purpose and no effect in the wind tunnel, but only were there to throw off other teams and have them test the same wings. It worked, the next year teams came back with the little wings, for example Sauber had them. Not necessarily the most ridiculous piece, but an extra piece of complexity in an already extremely complex car aerodynamically.
6.) Arrows A22
That little wishbone looking thing on the front-end of this race car was supposed to help improve aerodynamics, which it very well may have. But uh, what about frontward visibility? The car might be faster on paper but if the driver can’t actually see, I’m not sure how positive this could’ve been. The FIA must’ve felt the same way, as it was quickly outlawed.
5.) Chris Rado’s Scion tC
Front-wheel drive race cars have it rough. They’re laughed at and looked down upon, but not this Scion tC race car. Putting out over 900+ horsepower, using 50+ pounds of boost, this thing plays no games. Which is exactly why the front-end spoiler is very necessary. Silly looking, maybe, but necessary.
Suggested By: 8695Beaters
4.) Formula SAE
Around the world Formula SAE teams work to make their tiny open-wheeled racers operate reliably and quick. Aero is a huge part of that. Jalopnik reader Noah can tell you of his experiences:
Designed by students and needing to produce downforce at ridiculously low speeds, wings have varying degrees of ridiculousness and effectiveness. The regulations were changed recently to make the wings smaller but still ridiculous. To bad this article isn’t latter in the year because I would show you my team’s ridiculous rear wing design. I’m on the aero team, so I see the crazy shit we come up with.
These cars have diffusers, big ass undertrays. Some have fairly silly amount of aero elements (some even active).
3.) Hill Climb Cars
Some of the best and most well-known hill climb cars have front splitters that seem big enough to sleep comfortably on, but there is no sleeping going on here. Getting up those steep, rally-like hill stages requires both incredible skill and a purpose-built machine. You don’t get the purpose-built machine without the right aero.
2.) Brabham BT46B
By taking advantage of a small technicality in the rules that left fans and cooling components very unregulated, Gordon Murray was able to engineer the BT46B to stay sucked to the ground like no other. The rear-mounted fan was connected to the engine using an array clutches. Air was gathered using external intakes, including one which fed through an engine cooling radiator.
Aside from the high levels of exhaustion drivers would experience from the unique levels of downforce the car would produce, this race car was golden. Well, at least until fan-based ground effect cars were outlawed altogether in Formula One.
1.) Chaparral 2J
The rear-mounted fans combined with specially designed suspension that gave one-inch of clearance between the body and the road surface created levels of downforce that could measure up to around 1.5 Gs. Active aero is one thing, but a car that has built-in turbines that create it’s own downforce is almost unheard-of.
The 2J wasn’t the most reliable race car of the bunch, but it most definitely was one of the quickest. The car lasted in the CanAm series until it was pushed out by the angry folk at McLaren when they accused Chaparral of breaking the rules.
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Top Photo Credit: Audi