Consumer Car Technology That Came From Racing
Much of the car technology we see in the vehicles we drive comes from various race teams and the systems they develop.
Racing teams are constantly working to save seconds on the pit and on the track. Just because you drive a mild-mannered sedan or SUV doesn’t mean you don’t benefit from the technology developed by racing programs around the world. Whether it’s a part from the Formula One cars or something developed by NASCAR, you’ve got some of that tech in your ride. It’s easy to see some of these items and know they came from the track to your daily rush-hour commute.
Racing Developed the Push-Button Ignition System
It takes less time to push a button to start a vehicle than to turn a key. This is a feature we see in nearly every vehicle in the market today, saving a little bit of time. If you want to buy a model from Porsche, this push-starter is on the left side of the steering wheel, which seems odd. This item makes driving easier and allows you to leave the key fob in your purse or pocket.
How Can Your Tires Come from Racing?
When you look at the tires used by racing teams, they look smooth, without tread, and wear out quickly. How then can the car technology in tires come from racing? It’s not the tread that comes from this driving area, but the types of rubber and compounds used that give these tires the strength needed. The fact that racing is rough on tires and uses them up quickly is a reason for this technology to move from the track to the road, giving us the right compounds in the items on our cars.
The Engine Air Intake Comes Straight from the Track
There’s no shock that racing teams need to feed air into their engines to make the cars go faster. This has led to the development of engine air intakes that are aerodynamic and give the engine enough air to perform at its peak. We love our muscle cars with these items, but air intakes are used for trucks, SUVs, and sedans as well. Feeding air into the engine increases the performance of the vehicle, giving you the drive you want to experience every day.
Car Shapes Come from Racing
Racing teams are some of the first to study aerodynamics in vehicles to make them go faster. Early cars had large engines and could race around the track but the technology of the day limited the top speed. Many teams worked to cut the wind resistance and develop aerodynamic shapes to make cars faster. This led to the car shapes we see today. This is easily one of the most advanced forms of car technology that comes from racing to the road. Even our SUVs offer shapes that cut through the wind with a bit of aerodynamics that helps improve the performance of the vehicle.
Various Safety Systems Come from the Track
It’s important to protect the driver on the track. Racing a car at high speed with 40 or more other drivers on the same track is dangerous enough; these drivers don’t need to worry about whether or not they are safe. Many of the safety systems we see built into cars we drive today come from racing. The design of a race car protects the drive in a crash, which is something we want when out on the road.
Lightweight Materials Come from Racing
What makes a great race car? In its simplest form, the formula is a high-powered engine, an aerodynamic build, and lightweight materials. This third item is in more of the cars we drive every day than ever before. You’ll find carbon fiber used in many of the cars we see, especially high-powered sports cars. This car technology helps to improve fuel mileage and power availability on the road. Whether it’s carbon fiber or aluminum, most likely, the material is something developed, tested, and used out on the track.
DOHC is Nothing New
The use of double-overhead camshafts is nothing new. This engine design first appeared on race tracks around the world in the early 1900s and is still one of the most popular engine designs we use today. This system allows the valves to open and close twice as fast as engines with a SOHC design or single-overhead camshafts. This means the car can perform better, be more powerful, and give us the drive desired every time we get behind the wheel.
There’s No Surprise that Brake Technology Came from Racing
How long do you need to stop a car going 200 mph? That distance and time need to be much shorter than on the road when driving on the track. Disc brakes began showing up in race cars in the 1950s and then moved to the cars we use today. In fact, it’s not often you find any car with drum brakes any longer. This car technology is important to giving us the stopping power and system needed to ensure we can stay safer out on the road. Some of these disc brakes use venting, which allows the heat to leave the area and improves the stopping power of the car.
How Can Suspension Systems Come from the Track?
Tracks are smooth areas of blacktop or cement without potholes. The roads we drive on today are the opposite of the track surface. How can a car suspension translate from the track to the road? Race cars use independent suspensions to keep all four wheels on the road. Our passenger cars use this system to soften the drive and help you avoid the challenges of ruining your wheels or riding with rough potholes. These suspensions also offer more room inside the full-size SUVs we drive.
Transmissions with Paddle Shifters
Most of us use automatic transmissions these days, which seems like something that doesn’t come from the track. The item of car technology that does come from the track is the Direct-Shift Gearbox. This item is a clutchless transmission, which comes directly from the track to many performance cars on the road. Additionally, the paddle shifters or shifter buttons we use in some cars come from the track. All you’ve got to do is set the car in the “M” setting, and you get to shift gears without a third pedal while using the shifters near your hands.
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