Even if you don’t realize it, chances are you have benefited from the technical partnerships that exist throughout motorsports in more ways than one. Sports cars in series like IMSA are the closest thing to real world driving and automotive application of technologies that all drivers experience. Learn the various ways the work put in on the track translates to consumer benefits on the road.
Former Porsche endurance team principal Andreas Seidl reinforced this in his interview with ARS Technica:
“This is the fastest laboratory we have, not just in terms of speed on the track, but in how quick we develop, and that's obviously to the benefit of the road car division. There's a lot of interaction between people from our departments and the road car division, and just by this there's a lot of transference of the know-how.
At the beginning of the project we benefited a lot from the experience that was there with the 918 Spyder, for example, and used that experience for our project. It's not just one-way.”
In all forms of motorsports, and especially sports cars, safety is priority. With a significant gap in speed from one class to another, and competition often running at night and in bad weather conditions, sports cars deal with the same potential hazards and incidents that we face...only at three-times the speed. When an incident occurs in racing, the manufacturer and series take a very close look at what happened and why.
When they analyze the cause, a better system is developed and is incorporated into future designs. Quickly. This improvement quickens the pace at which street vehicles incorporate those technologies. Safety belts, radial tires, braking, passenger compartment crush zones, chassis and aerodynamic design are all examples that came from what we learned in racing and competition.
Sports cars have been developed to perform near their capabilities for the entire twice-around-the-clock competition at events such as the 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans. The component stresses and potential for breakage in these events is high. Materials, design and testing have all been developed for maximum performance during competition in endurance racing. These lessons and technologies all make it through manufacturers such as Audi, Toyota and Porsche down to the street vehicles we drive every day. Even if the car is autonomous, downtime needs to be prevented for the sake of efficiency and long lasting performance.
3. Real world conditions
Road racing with sports cars translates competing in extreme conditions to commuting in extreme conditions. Rain, low visibility in night time, sun glares in day time, adverse road conditions, and how we approach these conditions are critical to ensuring a safe driving experience. Sports car competition acts as a real-life test bed for innovation and development beyond just speed. The conditions experienced at the highest form of competition are often the same conditions we experience driving to work, and the connection is being made constantly to improve our commute. In racing, if you don’t take advantage of these improvements in technology, you end up at the back of the pack the next weekend.
If you think this is as interesting as I do, take a look at our article on some other technical partnerships in motorsports today.