HARRISBURG, N.C. (May 1, 2001) -- The word technology is often associated with Silicon Valley and space-age robotics. Many forms of competitive motor sports, especially the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NHRA Winston Drag Racing, are built on the...
HARRISBURG, N.C. (May 1, 2001) -- The word technology is often associated with Silicon Valley and space-age robotics.
Many forms of competitive motor sports, especially the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NHRA Winston Drag Racing, are built on the foundation of stringent rules to regulate the amount of technology being used.
But technology, in its purest form, is the driving force behind Dodge and Mopar's motor sports efforts -- more specifically, its NHRA Winston Drag Racing and NASCAR Winston Cup Series programs. Advanced computer design and 3-D modeling has helped Dodge and Mopar engineers, in association with its race teams, put together two of the premier racing engine programs in the world. These programs are redefining how quickly competitive race engines can be developed.
Both the new 358-cubic-inch Magnum R5-P7, which powers the 10 factory backed NASCAR Winston Cup Series Dodge Intrepid R/Ts, and the new 500-cubic-inch NHRA Pro Stock Hemi engine of Mopar's three Pro Stock teams, started from 'clean sheets of paper' a little over two years ago and have become extremely competitive in a short period of time.
"We didn't have a chance to do anything twice," said Dodge manager of NASCAR engine programs Ted Flack. "Therefore, we had to use all of the computer technology and features we could. From the time they announced the NASCAR Winston Cup Series program, we had about 400 days until we raced. There was very little time."
In a project that began in November 1999, the NASCAR Magnum R5-P7 shocked the collective racing community when the No. 9 Ray Evernham-owned Dodge Motorsports Intrepid R/T entry of Bill Elliott captured the pole for this year's Daytona 500. The Melling Racing No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T of Stacy Compton grabbed the outside pole, making Dodge's modern day NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut a huge success. And Dodge Intrepid R/T's grabbed the first three slots at the most recent Winston Cup race in Talladega, Ala., when the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T of Sterling Marlin, Compton and Elliott completed the task.
Long-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series engine builder Ernie Elliott, who builds engines for Melling Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing, spoke on how engine building has changed.
"Today's technology makes it so much easier and more exact," said Elliott. "The Dodge engineers were able to simulate and develop a new engine based on computer models. Not that long ago, we were still trying to do things based on experience and trial-and-error. It was pretty inexact."
The same could be said of the Dodge's new Pro Stock Hemi engine program. With limited time to put it together, the Dodge motorsports engineers designed, developed and built a competitive 500-cubic-inch Pro Stock engine in little over a year. After an inauspicious debut at the season-opening 2000 Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., the new Hemi engine roused the NHRA world when a Mopar Parts Dodge R/T broke the national elapsed-time record with a 6.809-second pass during the national event at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park last September.
"With the amount of precision in the design software, we were able to build parts and fit them together on the computer," said Greg Reeves, Dodge Hemi engine engineer. "We couldn't do that in the past. We are now able to make sure a part fits by drawing it on the computer. We have the ability to create the perfect part without literally building it first."
The two engine programs were developed side-by-side, meaning there was some technology crossover.
"The same designers worked on both blocks," said Flack. "We were using the same technology and design software to make it work. Both programs spent a lot of time on the computer, designing and developing and experimenting.
"Utilizing the advanced software packages, we are able to completely build all of the parts and piece them together on the computer," Flack added. "So, it was pretty neat to see that all of the pieces fit perfectly together when we assembled it the first time for real. The computer was able to design the parts to perfect scale. That doesn't happen very often."
Dodge Motorports R/T Pro Stock driver Larry Morgan, who has been at the forefront of Hemi engine development, feels that Dodge's commitment to both sports is key.
"I think the biggest part of this is Dodge's commitment to motor sports," said Morgan. "They are committed financially and committed engineering wise. Motorsports isn't just something they do -- it's something they live."
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