Daytona Wallace test notes 96-04-10

RUSTY WALLACE TESTS SPACE SHUTTLE INSULATION AT DAYTONA DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 10) -- NASCAR Winston Cup stock car driver Rusty Wallace and several members of his Penske Racing South team conducted a test Wednesday at Daytona International...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 10) -- NASCAR Winston Cup stock car driver Rusty Wallace and several members of his Penske Racing South team conducted a test Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway of insulation normally used by NASA in the space shuttle program.

Wallace only used his Miller Ford Thunderbird for two extended runs -- one with the insulation installed and one without -- to determine its usefullness in keeping the interior of a NASCAR stock car cool. The team did little actual testing for the Pepsi 400, scheduled for Saturday, July 6, at Daytona.

The team and engineers from NASA and Rockwell International discovered that the material lowered driver's compartment temperatures from 30 to 50 degrees. Apparently approval of the material would have to come from NASCAR.

RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Ford) -- (WHEN WILL YOU USE THE MATERIAL?) What we're doing today is we're just testing everything. We've got the stuff in the car thermocoupled up to our computers. We'll run a full gas stop or until the heat stabilizes. Then we'll take all of the stuff out and run and see how much it heats up. We want to see exactly what it does for us. If it's positive we'll share our results with NASCAR and, yeah, we'll start running the stuff in different applications. The cooler you keep the car, the better concentration the drivers will have and I think you'll see safer racing. The whole thing is to cool everything down and when you cool everything down that's just going to bring the drivers' performance way up -- especially at Daytona and Talladega where you have side windows in the cars. There's incredible heat. I'm real excited to see the people from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and Rockwell International. They're all excited about helping NASCAR and sharing what they've learned in their industry with the world. I think NASCAR's a good place for that.

(ON BEING THE FEATURED SPEAKER AT THE 33RD SPACE CONGRESS ON TUESDAY, APRIL 23. THE THEME OF THE CONGRESS IS: "AMERICA'S SPACE PROGRAM - WHAT'S AHEAD?") There will be about 600 people there, but I'm sure they won't go, "Rusty who?" They know racing pretty good. They've seen me on television winning a lot of races. I think they're used to their same grind. I'm going to be an added extra attraction. With everybody being down here with our testing it's going to add that much more to it. I'm excited about having the opportunity to get up there and talk. Yeah, I'll probably be a little nervous when I start, but that won't last long.

(WAS THE TEST A SUCCESS?) This was definitely a big success. We learned a lot as far as the temperatures go. With the NASA insulation on it cooled the inside of the car off somewhere from 30 to 50 degrees and it cooled the floorboard of the car off over 150 degrees so it was a big gain. This material is something we've never had before and it's good stuff! Around the feet it really cooled it off. That's the very hottest part, where the (exhaust) collector comes through and the left tail-pipe is right underneath your feet. It really cooled it down. Like I say, all that temperature you cool down is going to make the driver more alert, more patient.

(ON THE SEASON TO DATE.) I'm not exactly where I want to be right now. We're ninth in the points. We've had a pair of top-five finishes. We've led laps, we've run up front. I thought I had Atlanta won until we broke a motor. I ran good at Bristol last week but the rain got us. Obviously I'd like to have some wins. We're still working real, real hard. We're building new cars. We finally designed our own new chassis that we've been working on for ever. It's called the PC1. It's got a body being hung on it right now. We're going to be testing it for the Charlotte 600 weekend. That's some new stuff we're breaking through on. We've got to hurry up and get some wins under our belt to make me feel comfortable. The morale of the team is great. We know what we're doing. We know who our sponsor will be through the year 2000 and they know who the driver is. We're set. Our deal right now is that we can't get lazy. We've got to keep developing new things and try to win races because I feel we're operating at a deficit -- which is the body. We're working on that but it's slow going. We're having to operate at 120 percent just to be equal to 100 percent right now.

JAY F. HONEYCUTT (Director Kennedy Space Center) -- We hope that from a safety point of view this will be competitive with roof flaps. This will make the drivers a little more comfortable inside the car and in turn make them safer on the track. The drivers who I know say, particularly in the summer, it gets extremely uncomfortable in the cars. We're just pleased to be associated with the sport and hopefully we'll make a contribution to it. I come to Daytona (for NASCAR Winston Cup races) every year, twice a year. Roger Penske and Rusty (Wallace) are interesting guys to work with, but we actually got involved in this project with Bobby Allison. I met him up here at the races and he came down and we showed him around the space center. He said Could this (insulation) have an application to our (heat) problem?' They got Rusty and (co-owner) Don Miller interested and they're the perfect organization for us to be associated with.

(Honeycutt was wearing a "John Boy and Billy" cap in honor of the Charlotte, N.C., radio personalities.) They're my buds. Every time I go to Charlotte they let me be on their show for a couple hours. That's worth the drive up there itself.

BRUCE LOCKLEY (Chief Thermal Protection Systems Facility Manager for NASA) -- I'm responsible for coordinating all the activity between NASA and Rockwell. I'm very excited about the whole thing. I just went inside the car and felt the difference between the temperature of the car with the materials on it and off and you can tell by the ambient temperature that it's at least 30 or 40 degrees cooler in there. The frame is blistering hot right now and before, with the materials on it I touched it with my bare hands and it was cool. Obviously the material is doing its job and I'm really excited about it. It's fantastic! The material will insulate up to 2,000 degrees, probably. We've tried it on the exhaust pipes, the firewall (between the engine and driver's compartment) and around the oil tank. I think it will work for 500 miles. I'm a native of Florida who's lived in Daytona Beach for 23 years and this is my first time at the track. This is just great!

MARTIN WILSON (Project Manager at Thermal Protection Systems Facility, Rockwell International) -- (ON WHERE HE FITS INTO THE SCHEME OF THINGS) I designed it and built it (with help from Mike Charvet). We spent a day with the car last October. We spent another two days at the Penske facility last month. We've been building parts in Florida and shipping them up for them to try. Today was the day it all came together, although we actually tested only one element of three we actually built. The other two components are on a different car. The ones we did test stood the greatest chance of making the greatest change. They didn't fit perfectly, but they certainly demonstrated that the concept does work. By preventing radiant heat from the exhausts from hitting the underbody we've seen some temperature declines of 30 to 40 degrees in the immediate vicinity of the driver, the seat and the floor mats. We saw about a 35 degree drop in surface temperature around the area of the feet and the gas pedal. One of the other packages we've built is specifically designed to insulate within the cockpit. In combination with the others we can probably better the overall decrease by -- and I'm guessing here -- about another 10 degrees. Some of the data looks very interesting in respect to the areas around the seat attach points. These are areas that are direct conduction points from the major structural members of the car. They are still conducting quite a bit of heat. They were lower with the insulation than without. It seems to me there are simple things to be done there to get some gains in those areas. Thirty degree might not seem like much but look at it in terms of the difference between a 60-degree day and a 90-degree day. Any gains will certainly make it more comfortable for the driver.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Bobby Allison , Roger Penske
Teams Team Penske