The Future of Racing Technology

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SPEEDWAY. Ind-

We've seen Indycars change rapidly through the years, from the first Indy 500 in 1911, to now. The technology has advanced an immeasurable amount.

But the car gradually advancing to the point in racing history where the cars hit upwards of 235 MPH, wouldn't be possible without the progression of the only part of the car that actually touches the ground.

"The tire is really what gives them the ability to do all those amazing things," Dale Harrigle the chief engineer for Firestone said.  "So the tire is critically important to the drivers and the performance of the car. We're a lot more polished now, we have a lot more computerized tools. We used to do our development pretty much with trial and error, nowadays we have a lot of computerized tools that allow us to simulate tires in the computer. We don't even have to build them. The technology on the cars is astounding today compared to what it used to be."

For evidence of the technology in these cars advancing at a rapid rate, look no further than Sam Schmidt. Last Sunday the former racecar driver who has been paralyzed since 2000 after a bad racing accident, drove a car around the track that was completely controlled by his mouth.

 

"Sixteen years ago I absolutely never thought I drive again," Schmidt said after making history at the Speedway.

"To be able to come out here in such a high-performance vehicle and go pretty darn fast, it's just really cool."

The company that made Schmidt's ride around the track possible was Arrow Technologies. The Corvette is the newest example of their new semi autonomous car.

"They decided to do this project to help people with disabilities," Schmidt said. "They pushed technology forward at a very rapid rate."

So that begs the question what else can we do with these racecars and what do the drivers, engineers and tire experts expect in the future as technology in the cars continues to advance?

"There's constantly a lot of discussion about what the next car is going to be or the next engine is going to be," Indycar driver and owner Ed Carpenter said.

"I think one of the most obvious things that's probably on the horizon is maybe a canopy or some sort of a cockpit protection for the driver."

And as for the tires?

"I think the future will be in our continued development," Harrigle said.

"We've actually looked little bit at changing the aerodynamics of the tire, to make it more efficient on an open wheel car. Harvey Firestone said, 'Better today, still better tomorrow."

So while the future of racing technology is quite unknown, the sky does seem to be the limit for these cars. From the improvement of the tire, to the improvement of the car for the race, to giving people with disabilities the chance to climb back into the car and take the wheel. It sounds like Harvey Firestone was right on, things are much better today but they can get even better tomorrow.

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