16 Oct 2010

Had a long conversation with a couple buddies who, well, are seriously concerned for my safety. Not because of a design flaws, but the 800-lb gorilla in the corner of the room, no mention of aerodynamics. Both pointed out that a Lotus Seven has huge aero drag and, with up to about 150 hp, are pretty hard to be “too” dangerous. Escalate that to something like my brother’s Super Stalker with its 240 hp or so, and he’s seeing 140 mph+. Now decrease the drag some and up the hp by another 67%, and my car could become, well, interesting to control, maybe even taking flight like that¬†Mercedes CLR-GTR did.¬†Yes, it was going a lot faster, but also had much better downforce (well, to a point… it did flip, but you know what I mean) Another possibility is getting enough air under the nose under hard acceleration such that steering goes away…

I let them know that I’m aware of this and am already slightly terrified of the car. I’m discovering what a lot of people have found, that at some point in life we finally have the resources to buy/build/rent something that’s potentially beyond our means to control. A perfect case is people who buy a new Corvette ZR1, take it to a trackday event and get way in over their head, usually in a very bad way. Of course, other people can also rightly say that, “That’s what the gas pedal is for. Just because the car can go 200 mph doesn’t mean you have to.” True, but the downforce comments are very valid.

I explained how, though little has been written, a great deal of thought has been going into provisions for downforce in the form of wing mounts and/or an undertray. The incentive to do something comes from driving Kimini at Laguna Seca. Right through Start/Finish is a gradual rise, then a slight turn to the left as the course drops toward Turn one. In my old Datsun 1200, it was a flat-out straight, but in the Mini it was a bit more… interesting, where my foot really wanted to lift off the gas due to the car getting light coming over the crest, it wanting to float out toward the right curb. So that was in Kimini with 190 whp… Now I’ve got the potential to come through there even faster, so it’s serious incentive to think about such matters now.

Mounts will be provided for front and rear wings, in addition to a wing on the top of the cage. Some Stalker owners do just that, with the wing moveable front-to-back in order to adjust balance. At 150+ mph, something’s going to be needed, so the options will be there.