Developing Today’s Race Cars in a 123-Year-Old Tunnel

Photo credit: Charlie Magee - Car and Driver

Photo credit: Charlie Magee – Car and Driver

From the December 2021 issue of Car and Driver.

Understanding how cars move through air is crucial to automotive design. Wind tunnels, rooms with a controlled airflow to help measure and visualize aero action, have been around for more than a century. Automakers have increased their size and added a rolling road (a treadmill-like floor) in an attempt to replicate real-world movement. But a lab is, and always will be, a stand-in for the real thing.

Rob Lewis, an aerodynamicist who has worked on Formula 1 cars and Olympic bicycles, is a founder of TotalSim, a computational-fluid-dynamics company in the U.K. He was frustrated by the limitations and costs of the tunnel facilities, finding them to be outside the working budgets of most small companies and racing teams. Testing at such places could rack up $50,000 a day in rental

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