I have been a huge fan of the Pikes Peak Hill climb for a long time. I have been attending it for the last 7 years and it is pretty addicting. The procession to the top of the hill by all the fans, the sound of engines miles away firing up and the distinct roar of a V8 as it is bouncing off the rev limiter on a road that you just negotiated at 25mph.
Over the years I have met more and more people who participate in this event. I have shot for publications such as Autoweek and even worked with companies like Suzuki to provide photos to their marketing. A few years ago I had the opportunity to provide video on Autoweek’s site. We ran a car on the record breaking Time Attack 4wd vehicle that year piloted by Dave Kern with his wife Allison in the passenger seat calling the shots. I was pretty impressed with the duo. It isn’t every day that you have athletes who not only are the top of their class, but also are willing to go talk to their fans. If someone approaches them, they will talk to that fan about any part of the car, course or preparation that they went through to get to where they are.
As I continue learning more and shifting more to building and creating things I have had the opportunity to help them out in another way. I talked to Dave not long ago and we talked about the wing that he runs on the back of his car. He has had two wings and both broke in one way or another. He had some remaining parts from the two wings but no way to put them together. So I volunteered to take on the challenge. Between the composite skills that I have acquired over the last couple years and the problem solving skills that I have always been cultivating I felt pretty confident that I could come up with something. So I picked up the wing from Dave and started looking at it.
I was given side plates and a wing that were made for different applications, so I slid them together in the most obvious way that I could and started working on an appropriate way to mount these together. My goals were to provide a clean flow of air around the mounting points, provide adjustability for the wing, so he could tune it for his future needs and also (because I could see the wing shaking when he was racing) I wanted to stiffen the whole assembly up.
I cut off the old mounting tabs, and designed a new mounting system. It consisted of custom machined aluminum attachments that would epoxy through the wings sides. The goal of these parts was to allow the user to tighten the wing to the sideplates without crushing the interior foam of the wing. The attachment points flush mounted on the outside of the wing and bulged out in the inside surface. They provide enough threads to live up to aerospace standards, though I wouldn’t say that they are aerospace quality…I mean..I made them!
Once the inserts set I needed to figure out the guy wire setup. Guy wires were the best way to add lateral stiffness to the wing without causing to much aerodynamic drag. I wanted it to be clean and simple, but reliable and stiff. Dave wanted it to be easily interchangeable from trunklid to trunklid in case they needed to move it at some point in the future. So I started brainstorming and came up with a stainless pill design that was able to find its perfect angle in an aluminum cradle. This, of course, is probably overkill, but you know what. It is a great solution! It works incredibly well and I couldn’t be happier with it.
I designed the part in solidworks and revised it a couple times. In the end I had a bit of assistance from John Grimberg to come up with this.
The system works perfectly. Once attached the guy wire increased the stiffness of the wing by what I can only estimate as a 100% gain. It is incredibly stiff now, this is going to provide the carbon part of the wing a lot less load in the corners and allow it to focus on its job of keeping the car on the ground!
We will be mounting this thing up and hopefully heading to the track tomorrow to test it out. With easily adjustable increments for the wing it is now tunable so dave will be able to decide on 16, 19, 22 and 25 degrees for the back wing which means that he can decide how he wants it set up in order to serve his driving style the best.
The wing will be mounted up by tomorrow and on the track for testing the same day. It will be nice to have the opportunity to test it out, try out the different angles and be sure that it is all functioning as it should be before the event!