Software helps build a 222-mph stock car

Sept. 28, 2006
Driver Russ Wicks with American Challenge, Bellevue, Wash., set the world stock-car speed record in July by hitting 222.623 mph in a NASCAR Daytona Series Ford Taurus on the Bonneville Salt Flats.


The world-record-breaking stock car includes body parts such as a standard production hood, deck lid, and stock nose. The vehicle sports a rectangular tube suspension, independent double-A arm front suspension, and speedway 10 3 15-in. radial tires.

Driver Russ Wicks with American Challenge, Bellevue, Wash., set the world stock-car speed record in July by hitting 222.623 mph in a NASCAR Daytona Series Ford Taurus on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The old record of 217 mph had stood since 1971. Wicks credits 3D design, optimization, and visualization software from Autodesk Inc. for getting the car in shape for the run.

"NASCAR rules specify tires, drivetrain, and engine displacement, and cars must follow specific body templates for shape, height, length, and width," says Wicks.

"Autodesk Inventor and Alias Studio helped optimize the car's stability and speed to shave seconds off the race time while staying within rigid NASCAR specs."

Team engineers first optically scanned the car to generate an STL file. Using AliasStudio, they surfaced the model and created a Nurbssurface version. They exported the resulting IGES file into Inventor to further modify the design.

Engineers also ran extensive CFD analyses to predict aerodynamic lift, pitch, and yaw moments. They used this information in Inventor to tweak designs by, among other things, experimenting with different spoiler sizes. The program's collaborative features came in handy for interacting with an engineer in Germany who designed the spoiler.

"The vehicle was initially built with a left-hand slant for the sloped Daytona Speedway," says Wicks. "The software let our engineers 'cut the car in half' and compare the halves to readjust the car's slant and take out its crookedness. They also tweaked the car's angle of attach or stance."

The team used Inventor to design other components for a different run. This time, the team didn't worry about adhering to NASCAR specs. It just wanted to push technology to the limit. For instance, NASCAR racers are normally open underneath. Wick's team used Inventor to generate a bolt-on aluminum belly-pan. They also used it to design a clear window for the driver's side instead of the typical mesh net, which creates lots of drag. Wicks hit an unofficial 237 mph the next day.

— Leslie Gordon

———— Body ————


135 in.

Width60 in.
Height 51 in.
Wheelbase110 in. center to center
Track width 60 in. center to center
Wheel size 9.5 × 15 in.
Ground clearance 4.0 in.
Air dam 5.0 in.
Rear Spoiler 5.0 in.
Weight3,600 lb
Weight distribution 52% front, 48% rear
———— Engine ————
ManufacturerFord Taurus
Displacement358 cu/in.
Carburetion830-cfm Four-barrel Holley
Horsepower800 @ 8,500 rpm
Torque490 lb-ft @ 8,000 rpm
TransmissionFour-speed manual
Fuel system 22 gallons
Oil System 16 quarts
Cooling system 14 quarts
A chart shows details of the winning car's specs.

Autodesk Inc.,

About the Author

Leslie Gordon

Leslie serves as Senior Editor - 5 years of service. M.S. Information Architecture and Knowledge Management, Kent State University. BA English, Cleveland State University.

Work Experience: Automation Operator, TRW Inc.; Associate Editor, American Machinist. Primary editor for CAD/CAM technology.

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