The DeltaWing: The Look of Things To Come?

The DeltaWing: The Look of Things To Come?

By Mike Kojima

The DeltaWing is a love it or hate it sort of car.  You can either love its space age looks or hate it because it looks like something out of a Speed Racer Cartoon.  For sure the car is very different.  For sure it's as innovative as hell but does it work?  Does it have advantages over conventional wisdom?  If you are curious come with us for a close look at this car.  Our up close look at the DeltaWing left us with more questions than answers.

A lot of the stuff in this article is purely our opinions and is gleaned from looking at pictures as hardcore information on this car doesn't exist in the media.  So don't blame us if we are wrong, we are taking educated guesses!

 

We caught up with the DeltaWing at Laguna Seca, while the ALMS circus was in town.  Although the DeltaWing looks all cool and trick with its chrome wrap, it is actually a low buck proof of concept car that has been put together quickly out of scrounged up parts and has passed through several different hands.  This gives it a sort of cobblyness that is unusual for a prototype racer.

The DeltaWing is not exactly a clean sheet of paper design.  The tub is a modified ex P1 Aston Martin AMR part that has a narrow track DeltaWing front module designed by Ben Bowlby attached to the front!  The original integration of the parts was performed by Dan Gurney's famed All American Racers shop.

If funding can be obtained a bespoke DeltaWing specific tub would certainly clean things up and improve performance, particularly the aero performance of the chassis.  That funding will most likely come from Panoz whose Elan Technologies company will continue to develop this car separately from Bowlby's DeltaWing Race Cars Inc.  Panoz intention is to eventually develop the car into a customer car that teams can purchase.

 

The narrow nose of the car is somewhat high and canted upward which allows a steady airflow to the rear diffuser of the wider AMR tub.  The nose is devoid of obvious aero features which we find really strange.

We have no idea of how the car can tune aero balance. Perhaps the answers are in the car's really odd weight distribution. The car weights only 1285 lbs with only about 25 percent of that weight on the front wheels.  We think the lightly loaded front wheels do not need to generate much cornering force to point the car in the desired direction. 

Supposedly the rear wheels do 97 percent of the work in getting the car about.  We have no way of proving this but that is what the car's designers claim.  The high gently canted upward slope of the nose probably makes the chassis pretty non pitch sensitive and forgiving.

 

The keel of the car has some odd most likely aero features on either side of it. Probably the byproduct of CFD analysis, these could be vortex generators to modify airflow into the tunnel area of the rear tub.  There is perhaps some Newtonian pressure recovery component to their existence as well where they provide some downforce. 

Another possible function would be to modify the wheel edge vortices that are probably a big issue due to the narrow front track. The inner vortices especially as they can mess up the undernose flow to the diffuser.  Note there is nothing that can be trimmed or adjusted up here.

 

Mounted ahead of the front suspension module there is a carbon crash attenuation structure.  The two holes in the keel are quick release attachment points that help positively locate the nose section.  You can see the front brake cooling ducts and perhaps the skinniest racing tires seen on a car since the 60's!

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