Archive for December, 2008

Oil Pump and Wet / Dry Sump Systems – Racing Auto Parts

Posted in Auto Parts, Formula 1, IndyCar, Oil Pump with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2008 by autoracingpower

oil-pumpThe majority of production cars use a wet sump oil system. In this system, the oil that lubricates the engine is stored underneath the crankshaft in the oil pan. The pan must be large enough to hold four to six quarts of oil. The oil pump sucks up oil from the bottom of the oil pan and then pumps it to the rest of the engine.

In a dry sump system, extra oil is stored in a tank outside the engine and a large oil pan isn’t necessary. A dry sump system uses at least two oil pumps. One pulls oil from the sump and sends it to the tank. The other pump takes oil from the tank and pushes it to lubricate the engine. The dry sump system allows for the minimum amount of oil possible to be in the engine.

Major racing series such as Formula One and Indy Car utilize the dry sump system. A dry sump system is designed to provide lubrication for the engine’s internal parts and also increase performance. A wet sump system is not practical for racing as lateral G-forces would pull the oil to one side, which would momentarily leave the engine without oil. Because the oil is stored in a separate tank, a large oil pan is not necessary. This allows for the engine to sit lower to the ground, which lowers the center of gravity.


Flywheel and KERS – Racing Auto Parts

Posted in Auto Parts, Flywheel, Formula 1 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2008 by autoracingpower

In a traditional vehicle, the flywheel is the large wheel connected to the crankshaft that provides the momentum to keep the crankshaft turning while power is not being applied. The momentum is created by the energy generated during the power stroke. This energy is also used to drive the crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons during the three idle strokes of the 4-stroke cycle. This makes for a smooth engine speed. The flywheel forms one surface of the clutch and is the base for the ring gear.

Flywheel and KERS


The upcoming season of Formula 1 will allow teams to incorporate the new Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) system into their cars. This addition will essentially turn the cars into hybrids. KERS is not a battery electric hybrid technology that most people are familiar with. The recovered energy is stored in a rotating flywheel instead of being converted into electricity and then applied through an electric motor. The flywheel is approximately 5 kilograms and contained inside the car’s transmission. This stored energy in the flywheel can be used by pressing a boost button during certain times of the race.


Camshaft – Racing Auto Parts

Posted in Auto Parts, Camshaft, Formula 1 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2008 by autoracingpower

camshaft1The camshaft is an engine component used in piston engines to open and close valves. It is a cylindrical rod that runs the length of the cylinder bank. The rod contains many cams or lobes, each which operate a valve. The lobes open the valves by pressing down on the valve as they spin.

The relationship between the rotation of the camshaft and the rotation of the crankshaft is extremely important. The valves control the flow of the air/fuel mixture intake and exhaust.  The valves must be opened and closed at the exact time during the stroke of the piston in order to operate properly. The camshaft is either connected to the crankshaft directly. It can also be connected by a gear mechanism or with a timing belt (also called a timing chain).

In Formula 1, FIA regulations mandate that camshafts must be manufactured from an iron based alloy and that each camshaft and lobe must be machined from one single piece. No welding between the front and rear bearing journals is permitted.


Spark Plugs – Racing Auto Parts

Posted in Auto Parts, Formula 1, Spark Plugs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2008 by autoracingpower

From Left to Right, F1, GP bike, Production Car

From Left to Right, F1, GP bike, Production Car

A Formula 1 engine is an amazing technological achievement. The engines are rev-limited at 19,000 rpm, which is over twice what most production sports cars are capable of. To ensure that the high-reving engines don’t rip themselves apart, the Formula 1 engine piston only travels about 1.6 inches. Compare this with the 4 inch stroke of a V8 Corvette engine. The bore is approximately 3.8 inches which is more comparable to the 4.13 inch bore of the Corvette.

Spark Plug Anatomy

Spark plugs for production cars are generally about 3.5 inches long, with a diameter of about three quarters of an inch. The lower third of the spark plug is covered by a steel thread sleeve. On the top of the spark plug is a metal stud. The white part is ceramic and called the insulator. On the bottom of the threads is a small hook that bends down close to another electrode. This is the gap where the spark occurs and ignites the fuel and air mixture in the cylinder.

In an effort to conserve weight, Formula 1 spark plugs have been designed to be much smaller than spark plugs for road cars. Formula 1 spark plugs are about 1.50 inches long and the diameter of the threads is around .3 inches. The plug also has no small hook for an electrode like you would find on conventional spark plugs. They are designed this way to save space inside the cylinder and the design is called a surface-gap spark plug. If the spark plug were to have a protruding electrode, it would be shaken loose or crushed by the piston. The spark occurs on the bottom of the threads.

There is almost no room for error when it comes to manufacturing Formula 1 engine components. If the spark plug is just a fraction too long, the piston may hit. To error on the side of caution, the bottom of the piston has a divot to avoid any possible contact.


Brake Pads – Racing Auto Parts

Posted in Auto Parts, Brake Pads, Brakes, Formula 1 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2008 by autoracingpower

brake-padsFormula 1 cars use “carbon/carbon” brake pads. Carbon/carbon is a composite material that consists of carbon fiber in a matrix of graphite. It was originally created for the nose cones of intercontinental ballistic missiles and is also the material used for nose cone and leading edges on the Space Shuttles. Carbon/carbon was brought to Formula 1 by the Brabham team in 1976 and the material is now standard in Formula 1 brake systems.

The carbon/carbon brake pads are actuated by a 6-piston opposed caliper. The calipers must be made of aluminum alloy. The calipers also utilize titanium pistons. The titanium pistons help save weight, but they have a low thermal conductivity, which reduces the flow of heat into the brake fluid. No more than two brake pads are allowed per rotor.

Full carbon pads with full carbon rotors allow for normal operation up to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit!


Move over Danica, Natacha Gachnang is here.

Posted in Formula 2, Natacha Gachnang with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2008 by autoracingpower

The inaugural season of the Formula 2 championship will include the beautiful racing star from Switzerland, Natacha Gachnang.  The racing series will feature a new car with a Williams chassis and 450 hp engine built by Audi. The 21-year-old has had a promising career so far finishing third in the Spanish Formula 3 championship and second in the Copa de España.


Natacha was previously racing in the U.S. in the Star Mazda series where she had a top ten finish in each race. During her time in the Star Mazda series, she was also racing in the Formula 3 Euro series and Austrian Formula 3. Natacha’s cousin is Toro Rosso Formula 1 hopeful Sebastien Buemi.

She speaks English, French and German and her favorite tracks include Nuerburgring and Ledenon, are you really still reading this? There’s a gallery below.


Shocks and Suspension – Racing Auto Parts

Posted in Auto Parts, Formula 1, Shocks, Suspension with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2008 by autoracingpower

shocksThe suspension of a Formula 1 car creates the essential interface between different elements that work together to produce its performance. The suspension harnesses the engine’s power, the down-force created by the aerodynamics and the tires grip. It allows these forces to combine effectively and create a performance machine.

In Formula 1 cars, the driver’s comfort is not considered, performance is the only thing that matters. Spring and damper rates are extremely firm to make sure the impact from driving over bumps is defused as quickly as possible. The spring absorbs the energy of the impact and the shock absorber releases the energy on the return stroke.

Active electronic-controlled suspension is no longer allowed in Formula 1. The cars now utilize multi-link suspension which is similar to double wishbone suspensions present on some road cars. The multi-link suspension features suspension arms that are unequal in length on the top and bottom to allow better control of the camber angle taken by the wheel during fast cornering. The longer effective radius of the lower suspension arm causes the bottom of the tire to slant out farther than the top during cornering and helps maximize the grip of the tire.

Formula 1 springs are not mounted to the suspension arms directly. They are operated remotely with push-rods and bell cranks. This allows for variable rate springing. The spring is initially soft when pushed slightly, but becomes stiffer as the spring is pushed harder. Carbon Fiber is now used for suspension links in order to reduce weight and add strength.

Formula 1 car suspensions can be adjusted specifically for different track types and conditions. The cars are tuned to the driver’s preferences to suit their style of driving. Other track set-up decisions such as aerodynamics and tire choices must be considered when tuning the suspension.