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Aerodynamics Section: Intro & History

 
Old 10-04-2018, 06:57 PM
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Default Aerodynamics Section: Intro & History

Welcome to the Aerodynamics subforum!

This section has been a long time coming, and I feel we're in the midst of a very exciting time in this area within the Miataverse. The first ~15 years of modifying the Miata for high performance saw minimal experimentation with aero. Most thought aerodynamics weren't an important consideration for a small, low powered car as if the laws of physics somehow didn't apply in this case. It took some time, but just as over the past century in the wider world of sports car racing, the past 15 years in the Miata world has seen those who do pay consideration to aero quickly become the ones with an advantage over those who don't. Many of the early pioneers of applying aerodynamic concepts to these cars are members on this forum. There is a wealth of combined knowledge and information here and we’ll continue to build on that.

Aerodynamics is not a black art, it's a science. Like any science, our understanding of it evolves, but the basic understanding of it has matured to a point that it needn't be a mystery to those willing to experiment, study and learn. "It finally seems as if aerodynamics has grown to be equally important in winning races as the other two traditional disciples of tire and engine technology" (ref. 1). The shift towards aerodynamics playing just as crucial of a role in car development as any other can be seen today in Miatas as the fastest examples are now making fundamental decisions about the rest of the car based on aero considerations. Suspension setup, tire tuning, heat exchanger configuration, driver placement, engine layout, unibody modification, chassis design and much more are all being influenced and even centered around aero goals and loads.

As you would expect with any section of this forum, a high signal to noise ratio will be maintained. We encourage participation if you’re knowledgeable in the field. If you have questions, read through the content already available before starting a new thread. We don’t need a dozen threads about where to buy alumalite, and we will not suffer a debate about IF a wing lowers lap times. We’re way beyond such anachronisms.

The following is presented as a brief history of key influences in the implementation of aerodynamics to the Miata platform to help understand how we’ve progressed to the current day.



E-Production & F-Production racers (1992-Current). Miatas quickly found their way to these SCCA classes not long after release. Unlike Spec Miata, some significant changes to the body were allowed and cars were refined through the years. Of note are the widened front bumper and fenders to shroud the front tires, front bumper “skirt” and eliminated windshield - all strategies to reduce drag. An E-Prod Miata first won the national championship in 1994.





Kageisen GT300 NA (1997-98). While America was still mostly racing stock bodied Spec Miatas, in Japan things got serious. This car was built by NOPRO to compete in the JGTC series. It’s achilles heel that kept it from being competitive was the unreliable rotary engine, but in terms of aerodynamics this was miles ahead of any other Miatas on racetracks across the world at the time. That it was even on the same planet in lap times with the other GT300 machinery is testament to that. With the lack of social media, this car’s influence on the Miata world was minimal at the time. However, it still stands as the first Miata to utilize significant downforce to go faster, a decade ahead of most other examples.



Moti Almagor: Blackbird (2002-05). The first Miata to experiment with an array of true home-built/DIY aerodynamic additions on a track-focused Miata to lower lap times, and with success. This was at a time when the few aero believers were considered aliens by the majority of Miata enthusiasts. Experiments included wing, diffuser, splitter, front dive planes, and more. This was the genesis for the lexan spoiler that is so popular on track Miatas today. Back then, Miata.net was practically the only place to share ideas with other Miata owners in the country, but discussions there usually deteriorated quickly with people who just didn’t believe the aero did anything.



Matt Andrews (2008). The first purpose-built time attack Miata. Aerodynamicist Andrew Brilliant lent a hand in some of the aero development on this car. Lowered “half-dam” front bumper, small splitter, and dive planes all contributed to create a not-insignificant amount of downforce on the nose at speeds that the 340whp propelled the car to. The car also had a flat bottom and diffuser. The absent rear window from the hardtop was claimed to improve airflow to the wing and is a subject still debated to this day. Sport Compact Car magazine held an aero test session with this car and wrote a subsequent article that validated many of the aero components used. This car held the Miata lap record at Auto Club Speedway for nearly a full decade.



Garage Hundred One (2010). Time attack NA on the other side of the pond (Japan). Used proven Voltex aero components. Well shrouded front tires, big splitter, dive planes, Voltex wing. Due to distance and language barriers, there isn’t a wealth of information about the car, but it’s reported to have gone 59.x seconds at Tsukuba. The spattering of pictures and grainy in-car footage that did emerge served as encouragement to aero interested Miata racers across the world.



Emilio Cervantes: Crusher (2012). The OGK came years before it, but Crusher is the car that led the charge for well implemented aero on a road racing Miata at a nationally competitive level. The high density plastic airdam - a feature first seen on some E Production cars - which has become so common on racing Miatas today, was first refined here. Where most previous aero experimentation on Miatas had been effective but crude, Crusher was a scalpel that was refined to make solid downforce as well as minimize drag. Removing/relocating side mirrors for drag reduction was first done here. Also noteworthy is the high-mounted and efficient 2-dimensional GT-250 wing. Dominant performances in NASA PTC and at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill paved the way for a new generation of competitive Miatas.



Keith Tanner: “Targa Miata” (2013). The car existed long before, but around 2013 Keith began experimenting with many of the same aero elements as previous cars mentioned here, but of particular note was his discovery of the NASCAR Car of Tomorrow (COT) airfoil built by Crawford Composites and being sold for pennies on the dollar across the internet. This spawned a frenzy of Miata enthusiasts snatching these wings up from Ebay ads and classifieds and putting them to good use rather than hanging them on a wall. COT wings sell today for 5+ times what they did back then. Also, first successful implementation of active aero in the form of a rear wing air brake, cleverly actuated by NA headlight motors.




Autocross. Pictured: Bill Shenker (CSP, 2010) and Eric Anderson (SSM, 2018)
There may be no stronger proof of the Miata benefitting from downforce than in autocross cars (in the classes that allow it). Because aerodynamic forces increase at a square of the vehicle’s air speed, at low speeds the effects are greatly diminished and yet downforce generating elements have become crucial to winning even here at <60 mph speeds in a discipline where lowering the center of gravity by removing anything up high is a top priority.



Miata Challenge (2008-2015). Started by 949 Racing, this Miata-only time trial series encouraged heavy development in every aspect with an open ruleset. It was within this series that a huge amount of aero experimentation on Miatas took place, and much of what we now consider common knowledge for building fast Miatas was figured out during this time.The lap times of these cars awoke the greater Miata enthusiast community to the fact that big aero wasn’t just for show.
Photos (top left to bottom right)
William Chen: “Enzo” - Lots of experimentation by 949Racing on this car. Fastback, side skirts, hood venting, wing, etc. Several splitter/nose iterations. While splitter size was modest, downforce was enough to drag the outer corners on the ground.
Gordon Jennings - Pikes peak style front splitter, crude and high-drag but effective.
Andrew Kidd: “Theseus” - Splitter, wing, fastback. Experimented with bumper inlet ducting and hood venting.
Ryan Passey - Flat bottom, diffuser, wing, streamlined trunk, airdam, barge boards, 3D splitter, etc. First data-driven development of Miata hood vents and endplates.



Moti Almagor: “Creampuff” (2012-14). Another Miata Challenge competitor but deserving of specific mention. This car had a lot of “firsts” for a Miata; front wing, long-tail, streamlined cage tubes, and more. Of utmost importance though was that this car debunked the “Aero doesn't help on a low powered car” myth once and for all. The completely stock engine was left alone while the aero was constantly developed. As the aero got larger and more refined the lap times continued to drop. In 2014 it went sub-2:00 at Buttonwillow 13CW on a confirmed 99 whp.



Supermiata S1 (2015-current). The top class in the Supermiata series. The Crusher lineage is immediately clear. S1s do nothing revolutionary in the aero department, and that’s exactly the point; building a Miata that turns formidable lap times isn't a mystery any more. These cars demonstrate the new standard for effective, efficient, approachable aero. Specifically, GT250 airfoil, hardtop, HDPE airdam over a flat 4” splitter and hood louvers. S1s show the path for racers looking for substantial downforce, minimal drag, and low lap times without the need for a few hundred hours of fabrication or a PhD.




GTA Superlap Battle (2017).
Emilio Cervantes: “Bullet” (top) and Ryan Passey: “HyperMiata” (bottom)
A milestone for Miatas - on the same day these two cars went many seconds under the standing Miata lap record and each took 1st place in their respective classes in the leading time attack series in the US, where a Miata had never been on the podium. Bullet’s aero is crudely built with a focus on big surface area, but it’s based on sound aero knowledge, demonstrating that you can achieve massive downforce even with DIY methods. Hyper’s is more complex and proves the value of long-term aero development. Everything on Hyper is in its fourth, fifth, or sixth iteration; composite 3D splitter incorporating diffusers with side extensions/endplates, vented front wheel wells that bleed onto barge boards, extensively vented engine bay, streamlined airflow over the tail, optimized wing endplates, and more. These two cars are rather opposite in execution but the common theme is that in the search for unprecedented lap times, substantial aero is a key ingredient.

There was a time when a modest wing and splitter was considered lots of aero. Those days are behind us. There’s plenty more yet to learn, and this new section will be the perfect place to share and discuss!




References

1. Katz, Joseph. Race Car Aerodynamics: Designing for Speed. 2nd ed., BentleyPublishers, 2005.
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Old 10-06-2018, 05:49 PM
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Thanks for putting together the "wiki history" Ryan. I learned some things about the development in Japan that I didn't know. Interested to hear from our friends in Australia. More than any other racing community outside of the US and Japan, the builders have taken aero to heart and done some great work. They may have started later than we did but we're seeing some sound, data driven experimentation and implementation.

As fun as the stuff we have done in the past has been, I'm more excited about what lies around the corner. With the major drivetrain and power production questions for the NA/NB platform being answered, we finally have reason to dive that much deeper into aero development.
At VIR in May, our crude time attack aero was going up against, and holding it's own against a 997 GT3 cup car and 2nd gen Viper ACR. Your 350whp car on relatively small street tires obliterating a field of 400-600whp cars at Super Lap last November. Now that so many teams know how to build and maintain a 350-500whp, <2000 lb Miata, the idea of making over 1000 lbs of downforce at 100mph starts making sense.
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Old 10-08-2018, 01:24 PM
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Random resource for images of race cars from the last 40 years

Gurney Flap .COM
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Old 10-08-2018, 03:20 PM
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Very cool to have this "Miata aero - how did we get here" thread, thanks for putting it together!
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Old 10-08-2018, 07:48 PM
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Touching on the Garage Hundred One section, there is a performance shop near me that has an identical body kit. You can see it on Instagram via @winningformula to see more pictures of it if you'd like. From what I know of, it is very quick in the east coast with National Corvette Museum road courses and Putnam Park. Coupled with an LS3 swap, the significance in aero is self-explanatory. With front canards, an underbody splitter, front tires covered as well as the rear, a Singular Motorsports APR wing (I think?), and etc., aerodynamics have influence from 100hp to over 500hp. I thought it would be a nice honorable mention to the Garage One Hundred origins as it proves its functionality, eight years later in the States.

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Old 10-08-2018, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by ExaltedWind View Post
I thought it would be a nice honorable mention to the Garage One Hundred origins as it proves its functionality, eight years later in the States.

We did.

To be fair, Moti was playing around with diffusers long before Garage Hundred One published anything about their car. I recall building a crude diffuser around 2004. No flat bottom to feed it. Didn't affect lap times so I took it off and went back to the text books.
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Old 10-08-2018, 08:05 PM
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I don’t have any supplemental knowledge about The Winning Formula shop as far as past aerodynamic development. They’ve been around since the 90’s so there is fair assumption. So far, I’m really liking this discussion. Is there anything about IMSA like the RX-7 and the Racing Beat heritage or is that more clustered towards the Kageisen GT300 series?
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Old 10-08-2018, 09:29 PM
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Justin Lee, Winning Formula built on what we developed for NASA PTC and S1. A talented group of guys there with a lot of experience but relatively new to Miata aerodynamics.

If your knowledge of this field is as well versed as Ryan, myself and rest of the core group, then by all means contribute to the history. But if you're just taking guesses based on Facebook posts.. you are behind the curve
Moti's data driven experiments with diffusers predates Google.
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by emilio700 View Post
Moti's data driven experiments with diffusers predates Google.
I bet some of the newcomers might think you're joking, but this is true
Finding aero info on Alta Vista, Netscape and Geocities discussions was nowhere near as accessible (or available at all, in many cases) as it is today...
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Blackbird View Post
I bet some of the newcomers might think you're joking, but this is true
Finding aero info on Alta Vista, Netscape and Geocities discussions was nowhere near as accessible (or available at all, in many cases) as it is today...
Ain't that the truth. The amount of info available online through forums and now searchable is amazing. Ignorance is a choice anymore. (Also, did you try asking jeeves?)
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Old 10-27-2018, 03:15 PM
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Default Required Reading

Another good resource for those that haven't already read Katz, McBeath et.al
This is basic race car aero 101 so don't expect anything nuanced or cutting edge. Just cliffs notes of the fundamentals. https://www.buildyourownracecar.com/...cs-and-design/

Meanwhile, you should start with these two. Both are cornerstone texts for the amateur race car builder, and only the tip of the iceberg.
Competition Car Aerodynamics: A Practical Handbook, 2nd Edition
by Simon McBeath
http://a.co/d/dWj5YQs

Race Car Aerodynamics: Designing for Speed (Engineering and Performance)
by Joseph Katz
http://a.co/d/bPqCuFK
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Old 10-28-2018, 03:05 PM
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Well done Ryan! Glad to see this sub forum finally come to light.

Not sure how Autokonexion fits in the picture but the wide body and roof kit served as a great foundation for my car. They did a great job keeping air off the tires and smoothing out the air to the wing. I look forward to developing the car even further with info gained from others here on MT.


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Old 10-28-2018, 04:07 PM
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Mike Burlas, Autokonexion played no role whatsoever. I unwisely gave the design details for the fastback to Mike Eguina in around 2007. He commissioned Burlas to build it. The next few years after that I worked with Burlas on a few different aero parts but he had no intrinsic understanding of what we were doing. He was just the mold builder. He would then have the parts made overseas.

So anything that you saw come from that supplier was either a copy of someone else's work, my design or both.
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Old 10-28-2018, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by emilio700 View Post
Another good resource for those that haven't already read Katz, McBeath et.al
This is basic race car aero 101 so don't expect anything nuanced or cutting edge. Just cliffs notes of the fundamentals. https://www.buildyourownracecar.com/...cs-and-design/

Meanwhile, you should start with these two. Both are cornerstone texts for the amateur race car builder, and only the tip of the iceberg.
Competition Car Aerodynamics: A Practical Handbook, 2nd Edition
by Simon McBeath
http://a.co/d/dWj5YQs

Race Car Aerodynamics: Designing for Speed (Engineering and Performance)
by Joseph Katz
http://a.co/d/bPqCuFK
Second the Katz text. It takes a lot of understanding and nuance to convey the concepts he does in such an easy-to-digest way. Katz is certainly a talented communicator and engineer, and a staple for most any FSAE team at the very least. If anyone is interested in the perusing, it's hosted (with permission as far as I can tell) on researchgate.
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Old 10-28-2018, 05:25 PM
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[QUOTE=emilio700;1508703 I unwisely gave the design details for the fastback to Mike Eguina in around 2007. He commissioned Burlas to build it. So anything that you saw come from that supplier was either a copy of someone else's work, my design or both.[/QUOTE]

I never knew all that. What a shitty way to go about business. Then tire rack pulls the wheel stunt. Gotta be frustrating! I guess imitation is the ultimate form of flattery.

Mods please delete this to keep history clean, Same with my earlier post as well. In hindsight I should have thought more before adding to this particular thread.

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Old 10-29-2018, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by emilio700 View Post
Another good resource for those that haven't already read Katz, McBeath et.al
This is basic race car aero 101 so don't expect anything nuanced or cutting edge. Just cliffs notes of the fundamentals. https://www.buildyourownracecar.com/...cs-and-design/

Meanwhile, you should start with these two. Both are cornerstone texts for the amateur race car builder, and only the tip of the iceberg.
Competition Car Aerodynamics: A Practical Handbook, 2nd Edition
by Simon McBeath
http://a.co/d/dWj5YQs[/img

Race Car Aerodynamics: Designing for Speed (Engineering and Performance)
by Joseph Katz
http://a.co/d/bPqCuFK
Highly recommend both.

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