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40th Annual Louis Schwitzer Award Winner

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., May 19, 2006 - The 40th annual Louis Schwitzer Award honors Penske Racing, Inc. engineers Thomas German, Justin Horning, and Tom Janiczek.  The annual award recipient is selected by engineers and presented to engineers for innovative engineering excellence in the field of race car design. 

The winners were announced at a news conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media Center on Friday, May 19, 2006 at 10:00 am by Louis Schwitzer Award committee chairman Steve Holman.

This prestigious award, given to engineers by engineers, is sponsored by BorgWarner and presented by the Indiana Section of SAE International in honor of early racing pioneer and past Indiana Section Chairman Louis Schwitzer. This year BorgWarner has doubled the winner's cash prize to $10,000. SAE International has added a $1,000 scholarship to the engineering school of the winners’ choice, with a promise to double the scholarship if any of the winners were past Formula SAE participants.

Penske Racing, Inc. successfully developed a method to quickly adjust the rear wing angle on an IndyCar during a pit stop. A mechanism to permit movement of the wing was designed, as well as a novel battery operated power tool that allows a tire changer to make the adjustment within a two second window of opportunity.

A team’s chance of winning the Indianapolis 500 improves when they successfully adapt to changing track & weather conditions, and traffic. Pit stops are the only opportunity for teams to adjust the race car setup. The team’s work refining the design of their rear wing adjuster tool will allow precise adjustments of the rear wing during a pit stop without increasing their time on pit road.

At speeds of 225 mph, vehicle aerodynamics are extremely important. Small changes to the wing angles have a pronounced effect on performance. Teams frequently adjust the front wing angle during pit stops, since the tires are changed faster than the car is fueled, and the adjustment is readily available to a front tire changer. However, adjustments made to the rear wing angle have a more significant effect on the total down force and the top speed of the car, but these adjustments have been avoided by teams due to two major factors:

Lack of time.  IRL rules allow only six crew members over the wall during a pit stop: a fueler, an airjack operator, and four tire changers. One of the tire changers could make the rear wing adjustment after he has completed the tire change however the use of a manual tool (a speed-wrench) does not allow the tire changer sufficient time to adjust the rear wing prior to completion of fueling. If the pit stop time is extended due to the rear wing adjustment, valuable track position may be lost, possibly negating any gain made by the adjustment.

Accuracy of adjustment.  Using a manual tool the accuracy of the rear wing adjustment is dependent on the tire changer. During a two second period he must install the tool and adjust the wing in both the correct direction (increasing or decreasing the angle) and magnitude (amount of rotation of the adjustment).  The working environment for this critical adjustment includes the engine exhaust blowing in their face, the car dropping off the airjacks, and the driver putting the car into gear and exiting pit road.

The rear wing adjuster tool functions much like a cordless nut driver. The device is a straight power tool about 400mm long. It includes commercially available components housed in a billet aluminum body with a carbon fiber battery case. The device is self contained; and the prescribed rotation is activated upon engagement with the wing adjuster screw. The motor and clutch are sized to deliver sufficient torque to move the wing in real race conditions.

The device has a “lock-set” feature that allows the direction of rotation to be set prior to a pit stop. Shims are inserted into the device to set the desired number of rotations.  While the tool can make up to six revolutions, which is the full travel of the adjustable wing, one to two turns would be the likely adjustment made during a stop.

Congratulations to Penske Racing, Inc. engineers Thomas German, Justin Horning, and  Tom Janiczekon winning the 40th annual Louis Schwitzer Award for Engineering Innovation and Excellence.

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