Simulated tires and simulated races lead to real wins

Nov. 9, 2006
Adding tire performance to its vehicle-dynamics simulations lets the Newman-Haas Racing team more accurately predict how a car will handle on a particular track.

The MTS/Swift 20T Wheel Force Transducer installed on the 2005 NRH Lola Champ Car measures forces and moments on tires.

Adams/Motorsports software models, simulates, and analyzes racecars. The software allows for the typical set-up operations on a racing vehicle, such as springs, antiroll bars, dampers, aero, toe/camber/caster, pin height, ride height, fuel, ballast, and driver adjustments. Analysis examples include tire test-rigs, steady-state cornering, dynamic mini-maneuvers, full-lap simulations, and lap-time predictions.

How tires react to rough track surfaces is crucial for damper setup. The team uses sensors to measure forces and moments on tires and feeds that info into Adams/Motorsports from MSC.Software Inc. Santa Ana, Calif., ( simulate maneuvers performed during the test. Correlating simulations to measured data lets the team check adjustments and simulate races, thereby avoiding expensive track time . The payoff for the effort has been six wins in the Champ World Car Series. Accurate tire models have been hard to come by. Models from manufacturers are good only for the rare smooth-surface track. "Tires are the most important and difficult part of the car to characterize," says Newman-Haas Racing general manager Brian Lisles. "Teams usually rely on tire companies for data because tire-testing machines are expensive and they don't necessarily generate the needed data.

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