Basic Aerodynamics: Part One – What is Aerodynamics?
By Mike Kojima
Aerodynamics is the final frontier of tuning for production car tweakers. In years past many hours were spent messing around with engines, then suspension and brakes. Finally the tuning of drivetrains was perfected. All was good for a few years. About the only attention that anyone paid to aerodynamics was to perhaps purchase and install “Aero” kits ranging from hideous “Combat Style” to more tasteful JDM stuff from companies like C-West and Varis.
|Aero is important! Sometimes even modern race cars with highly engineered aerodynamics have severe problems. The GT1 cars went through a period where several were destroyed in spectacular high speed accidents.|
Little thought was put into the functionality of such modifications which were really just more of a styling exercise although some Japanese companies like C-West, Varis and Voltex actually did do some track and even rudimentary windtunnel testing.
Lately the popularity of Time Attack, track days and road racing has brought aerodynamics to the forefront in the tuning world. The top cars on the track are now starting to sprout all sorts of appendages to manipulate the airflow around a car and to get it to do work making the car go faster.
|When you think of aero issues, your mind might think of images of the early Porsche 917 and the Ford GT40 but even in this day of moving ground plane wind tunnels and CFD, cars can still have dangerous aero issues. The Mercedes CLK GT1 car had all of the trappings of aerodynamic aids but it suffered from a lift and blow over problem.|
Aerodynamics is the new frontier and a brave new world for most of us in the tuning industry. Other forms of racing have used aerodynamic aids since the mid 60’s but for street based race cars, aero is just starting to come into its own. The use of aerodynamic aids to improve a car’s performance is important believe it or not because of its basic shape.
|Chris Rado’s car has many aero tricks.|