28 Nov 2008

I’ve received comments questioning several aspects of the car and thought I’d give an explanation of my mind set:

Roll cage lacking tubes:
I anticipate builders configuring their car for what they want it to be. I have no interest in SCCA or NASA events and want the ease of getting in and out, so, I’m not adding any additional tubes to the rollcage. For hardcore racers, they can install longitudinal tubes to brace the two hoops together to make sure the cage meets the rules but most builders won’t want them. Builders building a car for cruising or going to weekend lunches probably aren’t interested in a fully-triangulated SCCA-approved roll cage. The way I look at it is that the car will be much safer than a Locost, and besides, competition rules vary around the world and are always changing so there’s no way to present a be-all-end-all solution. It’s up to each builder to double-check their local competition rules to make sure there isn’t a problem.

(Example: It was pointed out that the diagonal in the main roll hoop does not meet NASA’s rules because it’s installed to the opposite corner (though it does meet SCCA regs.) The reason it’s that way is it gets the diagonal away from the driver’s seat for better clearance. If a builder is going to participate in NASA events they’ll have to change things around which is fine. For all other builders it’s that way to keep the tubes away from the driver’s head. This is just one example of how everything’s interconnected and how each builder will be responsible for their own car – as it should be.)

The car is too tall, lay the seats back further to lower vehicle height:
This is a double-edged sword by possibly making it too low for a street car, becoming invisible within 50′ of SUVs. Right now it’s 45″ to the top of the main hoop. How low can it go before it’s unsafe in traffic? Laying the seats back means lengthening the wheelbase, slowing slew response, something important to autocrossers. Lean the windscreen back too far and the driver’s line of sight will become distorted by the glass or Lexan windscreen, or the headlights may start blocking the field of vision, never mind being too low to meet local laws. Being too low can actually be a detriment at an autocross event due to the “forest of cones” issue but it does lower the CG. Builders will have to decide what’s most important to them.

How about side-pods?
Other than the yet-to-be-rendered side inlets, I don’t think Midlana will have them. Not because they’re a bad idea; they provide several benefits such as under-chassis diffusers, space for radiators and better side-impact protection. However they also make the car heavier, more complicated, and expensive. Not by a lot, it’s just more “stuff.”

I appreciate all the input, really, but there’s a growing sense of needing to move on. The car’s a compromise and at some point I have to draw the line somewhere – figuratively and literally – but draw it I must or I’ll be forever stuck in the design phase of trying to make everyone happy. The book will note areas where builders must make decisions – which I encourage – based upon their own goals and preferences. It’s okay to be different. I’ll try to include renderings of side-pod ideas so that individual builders can pick and choose what they like, or they can do their own unique modifications.

I’m far from any sort of design and styling expert; I want people to customize their car. I’m 6′ tall, so if you’re taller or shorter, the roll cage can be changed to suit. Or, maybe you’re heavier or more slim. Widen the car, narrow it, move the seat forward or back, or tilt it and bring the cage down. Want to add tubes to the cage, great. Want to change the engine cover look? Great. Variations are a good thing, really. It’s like the book is offering a recipe for, say, a cake. If builders/chefs want to add a little more or less sugar or butter, great! The point is, it’s a starting point, a known-good solution (or, it will be) to provide a fun safe competitive car that works, but individual variation is a great thing and can result in some pretty cool cars. As long as the suspension geometry isn’t changed, where the tubes go isn’t a big deal, really. But as some point… like about now, I have to stop experimenting with different chassis designs or the car will never happen. I want to move on, keep things simple, and let builders handle the individual variations. I hope this doesn’t come across as harsh; being a one-man show means doing everything myself but has the advantage of being able to decide when to push forward in spite of not achieving perfection on all fronts.