Innovative radiator wins "Schwitzer" Indy award

A novel new cooling strategy won the prestigious Borg Warner Louis Schwitzer Award for automotive engineering excellence on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mezzo Technologies micro-channel radiator, a sleek network of over five miles of...

A novel new cooling strategy won the prestigious Borg Warner Louis Schwitzer Award for automotive engineering excellence on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mezzo Technologies micro-channel radiator, a sleek network of over five miles of tiny micro-tubes barely 1/50 of an inch in diameter, won out over several other new racing technologies. The design affords racers a higher level of performance by reducing the requirement for air induction into the racecar's cooling apparatus, and allowing more air to flow over the car to favorably influence both drag and down force. The drop-in radiator also reduces vehicle weight as it permits less liquid coolant to be carried aboard the car.

Patrick Luke, one of the winners of the award for his contribution as engineering expert, received the ten thousand dollar check that accompanies the Schwitzer Award. Luke shares honors with three other engineers involved in the project: Charles Bencel and Christophe Marques of Mezzo, and Tino Belli of Andretti Autosports.

"We're thrilled," said Luke on behalf of the winners. "We're truly honored to receive this award. We are a small company at Mezzo, like family, and it means a lot to us."

The radiator is the same size as a conventional IndyCar radiator, an aluminum welded frame that is fit specifically to the series' Dallara chassis dimensions. The micro-tubule core is made of stainless steel. The original concept for the cooling system was military: to reduce air requirements to cool the engines of large tanks.

The design is already in use in the IndyCar Series with multiple entries to this year's Indianapolis 500 implementing the technology for the race. The radiator permits reductions in engine operating temperatures of up to 8 degrees Centigrade (14 degrees Fahrenheit), a huge efficiency advantage in thermal transfer. This further results in increased reliability and power at speed. It also contributes to cooling of the temperature-sensitive critical electronic hardware on board all modern racecars.

The award is given by the Indiana section of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The first recipient was Andy Granatelli in 1967. Other innovators in racing who have won the award include Dan Gurney, Colin Chapman and Bruce McLaren.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," said Luke of joining such luminaries of international racing design and technical achievement. "I'm just getting schooled in the history of racing. I'm sure there are folks back at the plant in Louisiana googling those names right now."

The winners' names are engraved on the Schwitzer trophy on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dan Gurney , Bruce McLaren
Teams Andretti Autosport