Academic Research and Motorsports Industry Partnerships Enhance Race Car Safety and Performance 2012-01-1172
A number of performance and safety related aspects of motorsports have received attention in recent years, but not at the same level of in-depth engineering research analysis that other similar highly technical industries have. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that motorsports has not had the same close working relationship with the students and faculty in the academic research arena that other industries have historically had. This is changing as more institutions of higher education are building closer relationships with teams, businesses, and sanctioning bodies in the motorsports industry. This paper will discuss how the motorsports engineering faculty and students at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis have utilized the traditional research approach of academia to assist in the design of new aspects of competition vehicles aimed at increasing safety and also enhancing performance. Safety and performance must be considered hand in hand, as no performance advantage can be permitted to compromise safety. At the same time, no race team wants to install a safety feature which hinders performance. The design, modeling, and analysis aspects of some recent projects will be discussed, including results acquired in the competition environment.