Video: CFD comes to NASCAR

CFD has come to NASCAR, and there’s no question: It’s a game changer. 

Produced by Ford Racing, this short video shows how CFD—that’s computational fluid dynamics—was employed to develop the bodywork for the 2013 Ford Fusion NASCAR racer.

For those who aren’t familiar, CFD is essentially aerodynamic research in a box. Using powerful math and software, airflow-critical shapes and forms can be designed, tested, and refined in the computer, saving thousands of hours (and millions of dollars!) that would normally be consumed in hand fabrication and wind tunnel time.

And of course, until recently a big portion of any NASCAR team’s shop time and hardware budget were eaten up by the wind tunnel and other expensive tools. As many predicted, CFD is revolutionizing how NASCAR programs do their aero homework—and their engine airflow development as well, by the way.

This video is a view of CFD from 10,000 feet. The hardcore tech heads in the Motor City Garage audience probably won’t uncover any speed secrets here. However, you race veterans will recognize some familiar faces: Watch for cameos by, among others, Ford NASCAR Operations Manager Andy Slankard; Patrick DiMarco, NASCAR program manager, and Ray Leto, Ford CFD manager and former technical director of Bobby Rahal’s champ car team. At just over four minutes the video is well worth your time. Enjoy.

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4 thoughts on “Video: CFD comes to NASCAR

  1. Hey Mac, thanks for all the great articles especially the ones covering NASCAR. Just great. I’ll be a regular vistor from now on. Greetings from South Africa.

  2. Enjoyed the details on roll cage improvements; is mild steel better suited for safety than chromemoly? Also, I enjoyed the windstream breakdown as was aware of rear effects but did not realize the wheel wells had such an impact. Good Info.

  3. CFD can be a very powerful tool in the hands of a competent engineer/analyst. But when used by less capable engineers, it can give questionable results. The results from a CFD analysis are only as good as the quality of the model used.

    There is also the more practical issue of how a CFD analysis works. Due to the very complex nature of a CFD model, these analyses are usually done with constant flow conditions. Performing a coupled analysis with several non-linear variables would be far beyond the computational capabilities of any race team.

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