How to road cars inspired race car design at the 24 Hours of Daytona

For better or for worse, aerodynamics have dictated the look of the race cars for decades.

In recent years, which has led to ugly F1 nose, too complicated IndyCar wings and the square wall of LMP1s like the Porsche 919 Hybrid.

As highly effective as these designs are, they are enough to let the fans of the nostalgia for a time when many race cars had always the air of great – Porsche 917 and 956, for example, or the Brabham BT52 F1 car.

In the united states, help is at hand of the IMSA, which manages the WeatherTech Sports car Championship, which takes in the major endurance races at Daytona, Sebring and elsewhere. IMSA the new Daytona Prototype international (DPi), the cars will marry a standard LMP2 chassis technology – that are found in the second level of the prototype category at le Mans – with restyled bodywork to give the racing machines of the same design cues as a manufacturer of road cars. There is also the powertrain of the freedom from the stock Derbyshire-built, 4.2-liter Gibson Technology V8 which is equipped with ordinary LMP2s.

Basically, a good Balance of Performance of the equalization program is designed for aerodynamic disadvantages resulting from the design changes, paving the way for a beautiful car that is still capable of winning against LMP2 rivals when the two race each other.

British motorsport expertise has played a role here; IMSA in the scalemodel aerodynamic test program was conducted in a wind tunnel at Williams F1 with Ben Wood, a British aerodynamicist who has worked for Brawn GP. Mazda RT24-P DPi bodywork has been co-developed with Multimatic, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

Two of the new Mazda, which will share a chassis with the Riley MkXXX LMP2, were joined on the starting grid of the 24 Hours of Daytona in late January by three Cadillac DPi-V. Rs, which are built on Dallara LMP2 chassis.

At the end of 2015, Dillon Blanski, the lead creative designer for Cadillac outside, won an internal competition to form the distinctive, angular look of the Cadillac DPi.

“There are a lot of Cadillac design cues in the body lines of the Cio,” says Blanski. “The surface tension and the quality of the line in the first sketches were inspired by the production of vehicles in our studio.”

Blanski’s involvement extended beyond the Cadillac of DPi is the body shape to details like the large, vertical, daytime running lights, valve covers for the Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines-built, 6.2-litre V8 engine and even the deep-dish wheels, which mimic the style of those found on a CTS-V road car.

Several trips back and forth between the studio and the Dallara refined surfaces and details of the design until they were acceptable for the designers and aerodynamicists. Sometimes, the two coincide perfectly; Blanski note that the roof-mounted air scoop, for example, was style as well as from the front it looks like the Cadillac crest, but also delivered an improvement in aerodynamics.

Graphics are also used as elements of style, including the chart window that changes the shape of the greenhouse, the body-side graphics that accentuate the lines, and the Mondrian pattern on the back of the fin.

Mazda, meanwhile, have done it to get his trademark ‘Kodo’ design cues in the RT24-P DPi. The style was led by the senior director of design, Ken Saward, at Mazda’s studio in Irvine, California.

“We developed the LM55 Vision Gran Turismo for the PlayStation video game,” he said. “We wanted to put a part of the design and style elements of the in the RT24-P DPi.”

A decade ago, Saward has been the project leader on the Furai program, the creation of the beautiful concept car that met a fiery end during a magazine test. There is evidence of its swoopy lines, too, in the new DPi.

“The LMP1 cars have big, bluff, front fenders because they are trying to circulate the air on the front wheel openings that are there to stop the cars taking off when they spin,” Saward explains. “We wanted the RT24-P Cio to be more like LM55 or Furai, with a much more voluptuous shape and a beautiful silhouette, similar to the race cars of the 1960s and 70s, where the front end was a lot more swept down to the ground. The satisfaction of these requirements is our biggest challenge.”

When it came to testing the design of the aerodynamics, the team was in for a pleasant surprise.

“The numbers that came back was very positive, which, I think, has surprised the guys at Multimatic,” said Saward. “The style wise, it is a big departure from what everyone else is doing, but aerodynamically, it works very well, with good support and low drag.

“Who has a proven record of the top speeds we’ve seen at Daytona [during the 24-hour race]. Maybe there is something to be said for the guys who do not have the knowledge of aerodynamics to just design something that looks cool. Some of the most beautiful race cars have often been very successful.”

Cadillac has taken the first-and second-place at Daytona, where Mazda has run into some mechanical problems that ended the race for both of its cars, but dry powder inhalers are just starting. Other manufacturers are said to be interested in signing up to the Ipr concept. After all, who would not want to be associated with cool-looking cars that win races?

Graham Heeps