3D Scanning: The Key to Optimizing Underbody Aerodynamics of Sports Cars for Endurance Racing

Endurance is the ability to withstand hardship and adversity while maintaining a prolonged stressful effort. This ability is particularly crucial in the high-performance sport of endurance racing.

Endurance racing is tough, and it stands out from other kinds of motorsports. It not only tests drivers’ stamina and skills but also, the car’s durability, efficiency, and reliability. Events like the 24 hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, or 10 Hours of Petit Le Mans prove that, when a car can go the distance, its driving team will reign supreme.

A select few teams and drivers have been able to take pride in their performances and wins at these prestigious endurance races. It is on such a track record that renowned sports car champion Wayne Taylor founded his racing team.

Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the motorsports capital of the world, Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) has built a proven track record of success and ingenuity since its foundation in 2007, especially in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the North America Lamborghini Super Trofeo series.

WTR strives to stay at the forefront of racing and continue its legacy of winning top endurance races and championships. As motorsport evolves and innovates, the team called on Creaform’s expertise and technology to help them solve any problem that could arise for their endurance sports cars during a race.

Close up of a driver with a helmet through the open side door of a blue racing car

This blog and video are just the first in a series. So, buckle up, because we’re setting off on an endurance race that will test your technical ability to lead the competition to the end.

 


Wear and tear impacting performance

Aerodynamics is key in car racing, as it ultimately allows the vehicle to reach and maintain high speeds during challenging turns and straights. Even with an equal amount of thrust (or power), a more aerodynamic car will move more quickly than one that is hindered by its shape.

The bulk of the downforce lies on the car’s lower surface. However, the bottom of the car also repeatedly touches the racetrack and, consequently, accumulates wear and changes shape. Therefore, testing for wear and tear on the car’s underside is crucial to preserve downforce and maintain aerodynamics.

Blue racing car driving on a tarmac race track

Given the complexity of the deformations being measured, a traditional tool like a measuring tape or a caliper would only provide very basic measurements. At this performance level, a team wishing to stay at the top has no choice but to opt for a higher technology that aligns with its state-of-the-art racing cars.

This is how Creaform technology joined the race.

 

A solution that stands out from previous tools

With Creaform 3D scanning, WTR is able to take precise measurements of complex surfaces and incredible details. Using the MetraSCAN 3D, the engineers can now scan the car bottom and view a digitalized 3D model of the surface. This enables them to precisely identify which section needs better protection against wear and tear.

Thanks to scan data, they can now determine how much loss and wear the car’s underside has experienced during an endurance race and its correlation to aerodynamic losses. Creaform 3D scanning technology has been a valuable acquisition for WTR in terms of optimizing the underbody aerodynamics of racing cars.

Employee using the MetraSCAN 3D scanner to measure the outside of a black and white race car in a shop

 

A partnership that results in tangible benefits

The precise and accurate measurements provided by Creaform scanning technology are now essential for building better tooling and car parts. Most importantly, everything can now be built in-house at WTR, avoiding the need to outsource these tasks elsewhere.

“Unlike other series, endurance racing is really about 24-hours of wear and tear and understanding and then optimizing those losses,” adds Brian Pillar, Technical Director at WTR. “The Creaform scanner technology will help us see that wear and tear, analyze which areas to have concern and which areas to ignore to gain peak performance on track.”

Two employees using the MetraSCAN 3D scanner to measure the underbody of a race car

Endurance racing’s sophisticated and complex automotive requirements make 3D scanning technology a vital tool for the design of today’s racing vehicles. The difference it makes is clear just from looking at the results of the top endurance races and championships.

 

One Goal: Winning Against the Best of the Best

Optimizing underbody aerodynamics is only the beginning of the collaboration between WTR and Creaform.

“The Creaform technology has been truly eye opening,” says Travis Houge, Vice President and General Manager at WTR. “We have found so many unexpected ways to use the scanner and I’m excited to see what we can develop with this technology.”

In racing, the key to reaching and staying at the top is utilizing technology in the quickest and most efficient way. For this particular reason, WTR is happy to have developed this partnership with Creaform and is looking forward to new applications to harness the power of 3D scanning. “Creaform, for us, is the future!

So stay tuned; more content about the exploits of WTC on the racetrack is coming.

 

Article written by Creaform

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