School, Computers and stock car racing

CONCORD, N.C. (October 10, 2000) -- It is well accepted that computers are now commonplace in schools. But what is uncommon is finding an association between stock car racing and schools, or for that matter, between computers and stock car ...

CONCORD, N.C. (October 10, 2000) -- It is well accepted that computers are now commonplace in schools. But what is uncommon is finding an association between stock car racing and schools, or for that matter, between computers and stock car racing. Yet, all three are integrated in a one-of-a-kind program offered by Rowan-Cabarrus Community College (RCCC) in Concord, N.C., with assistance provided by Chassis R&D software.

H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, legendary race promoter, founded the RCCC Motorsports Management Technology program in the fall of 1997. The idea was to provide students with the knowledge and skills they would need to be successful in mid-management positions within the motor sports industry working for teams, race tracks, sanctioning bodies, parts vendors and other related companies. Currently, more than 40 students from 10 states and two foreign countries are enrolled in the program.

Course work includes instruction in general studies, motor sports fundamentals, principles of management, computer applications, accounting, business mathematics, marketing, advertising, sales promotion and human relations. Graduates of the two-year program will receive an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree, and RCCC is the only college in the country offering a motor sports degree.

The decision to integrate high-tech computers into what many think of as a low-tech sport -- stock car racing -- was easy, according to Bill Donovan, lead technical instructor on the Motorsports Management Technology program.

"I feel that the motor sports industry as a whole is adapting quite well to the fact that the PC (personal computer) will become a major part of any race program," Donovan said. "Now, the challenge will be to see who can maximize that resource the fastest, and this is one of the reasons we are integrating computers into the Motorsports Management Technology program so heavily."

To that end, the school has developed a computer lab directly connected to a "hands-on" lab where the students can work on the three race vehicles donated to the program. These include a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Chevrolet, a Late Model stock car and a chassis from a NASCAR Winston Cup Series Ford.

Nowhere in the program are the computers as linked to the vehicles as in the Advanced Chassis Program. This new course will debut in the Spring 2001 semester, and will showcase the latest in technology while simultaneously expanding the Motorsports Management Technology program into a more technical and "hands-on" learning experience.

A good portion of the Advanced Chassis Program will involve the use of Chassis R&D, a new software package that helps to determine the correct race car setup. Through the computer, users input several measurements from different points on the car, allowing the software to calculate the best setup. The program automatically takes into account the complex formulas and geometry needed, and the car can be prepared before leaving the shop -- a vast departure from the past method of trial and error at the race track.

"The learning curve has changed again as the real race is now against the amount of time teams have between events," Donovan explained. "The Chassis R&D software is one tool that will allow racers to use their time in a more effective manner both at the track and in the shop. This will allow the PC racer to begin work in other areas to maximize their race program."

The Chassis R&D software is designed to run on any computer using Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT or higher. There are two programs available. The Chassis Setup Software helps the race car obtain maximum performance and make all four tires work in synch. Also available is the Chassis Geometry Software. This roll center geometry program will help the team quickly and easily redesign a chassis, recalculate chassis coordinates, change arm angles, arm lengths and simulate dive and roll. Those interested in learning more can visit www.racingsoftware.com or call (904) 677-5384.

Graduates of the RCCC Motorsports Management Technology program have landed jobs with many leading race teams and tracks, including Hendrick Motorsports, Robert Yates Racing, Lowe's Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Participation can be done via the full program, or individual classes, though prior experience may be required for some of the advanced sessions. Prospective students can call (704) 788-3197, ext. 570 or 552, for more information.

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Series Automotive , Stock car
Drivers Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing