Software helps build a 244-mph stock car

Nov. 21, 2007
Driver Russ Wicks with American Challenge Inc., Bellevue, Wash., recently set the world stock-car speed record by hitting 244.9 mph in a Nascar Daytona Series 2007 Dodge Charger on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

This shattered the 222.623-mph record he set last year. Wicks credits software from Autodesk Inc., including online collaboration and design- review packages, for getting the car in shape for its run.

“Our company focuses on breaking land and water worldspeed records,” says Wicks. “Engineers, team members, and business partners reside in Seattle, southern California, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Auburn Hills, Mich. In the past, it was tough keeping track of documents associated with all the vehicles. Autodesk Streamline, along with Design Review software, lets us centralize documents and control design reviews.” Design Review, which is free, lets users view, print, measure, and mark up 2D and 3D designs without the original CAD.

“For example, an engineer posted Excel sheets to the site for the Dodge 2007 project with data from last year’s run, as well as Word documents with analysis information including amounts of tire spin and how salt spray hitting and bouncing off cars affected drag,” says Wicks. “Other documents might list things we learned last year and details such as the date the team got to the Salt Flats, the day it unloaded the car, and time needed between runs. Jpegs and Inventor 3D models in DWF provide race car and component images.”

Everyone on the design team then could review the information online. “All documents were considered works in progress,” says Wicks. “A technician could, say, download a DWF of last year’s car into Design Review, then use the markup tools to circle a particular component and add a note saying, ‘this area collected 2 pounds of salt last year.’”

Once a member makes a note, the software saves it as a version of that specific document. The technician uploads the document to Streamline and sends everyone in the group an e-mail. Each e-mail includes a link users can click to read the note and view the note history. Wicks says collaborating this way helped the company shorten the concept phase, essential because the team was under a big time crunch. The team had only one month to complete the project because after that the Bonneville Speedway would be under water for the rest of the winter.

As the project progressed, the design team grew to include component manufacturer s and an outside marketing firm. Streamline let them have different access capabilities. Thus, technicians, engineers, and chassis and simulation experts from American Challenge, Dodge Motorsport, and an individual from the facility that built the Dodge engine could access all project folders. “We usually restrict marketing to public areas of our site, only because non-technical personnel often find it easier to see only information they need,” says Wicks.

The 2007 Dodge superspeedway race

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