Beating the heat is a high tech effort

ALTON, Va. (March 25, 2003) -- The remarkable success of the Daytona Prototypes class in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series is evidenced by the cars' strong performances to start the 2003 season, including the first overall win by the ...

ALTON, Va. (March 25, 2003) -- The remarkable success of the Daytona Prototypes class in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series is evidenced by the cars' strong performances to start the 2003 season, including the first overall win by the #59 Porsche-powered FABCAR of Brumos Racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway in early March. But, like any new engineering project, the cars are still in the early stages of their development and the constructors and teams are working hard to get everything working perfectly.

One problem that all the teams are dealing with is excessive heat inside the cars. While each team is working to address this issue, G&W Motorsports, which is developing the Italian-made Picchio, has turned toward academia for an answer.

"We had a real problem with heat at Miami," G&W Motorsports Team Manager Price Cobb said. "Our BMW-powered Picchio had the performance we needed, but our choice of keeping Darren (Law) in for the entire race caused blistering on his feet and physical overheating by the time he got out of the car."

Hearing about the problem, Gregg Roberts offered up a possible solution and is developing an onboard cooling system with Dr. Pat Cassidy, VP of Academic Affairs at SW Texas University. Roberts, who is Managing Director with team sponsor U.S.I., is also the Chairman of the Institute of Environmental Risk Management at SW Texas University. At his suggestion, G&W and Roberts are working with the university to develop a stand-alone air conditioning system that can lower temperatures inside the car and direct that cooler and environmentally clean air to a number of different locations.

A working prototype powered by inert gas that is stored in small quick-disconnect cartridges is currently being lab-tested at the school. The unit itself, which weighs around 15 to 20 lbs., will be bolted to the floor in the cockpit of the car and will have air ducts including the possibility of a "cool seat" attachment.

"This is quite a project and we're glad we've got scientists to help us out," G&W President Cole Scrogham explained. "For instance, the air flow out of the unit has to be tuned to the air flow and air pressure inside the car. That changes from when it is at full tilt on a straight or braking into a turn, so the unit has to be able to figure that out by itself. Also, we want to be able to adjust the temperature settings to deal with differing weather conditions."

Scrogham added that a working model would be fitted in the car soon for additional testing. That initial unit will most likely be in a plain aluminum casing, but the production models are expected to be made from carbon fiber. "Once we have completed development, the air conditioner will be made commercially available," he continued.

More information on G&W Motorsports can be found online at motorsports.gandw.com. Additional information about the Rolex Sports Car Series is available online at www.grandamerican.com.

-garra-

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About this article
Series Automotive , Grand-Am
Drivers Price Cobb , Cole Scrogham