Edison2 – Daytona Speedway
Kyle Maxey posted on May 30, 2014 |
The Edison2 team heads to racing’s most storied proving grounds to perform late stage tests be...
Since it first opened its gates in 1959, Daytona International Speedway has been home to some of the fastest racing the world has ever seen. Featuring almost impossibly steep 31° banks that twist across the speedway's 2.5 mile long tri-oval track, Daytona was built to push cars to their limits.

Although legendary stock car drivers like Bill Elliot have screamed around the speedway's asphalt track at speeds in excess of 210 mph, on a late-April morning, Daytona would host another breed of record breaker – the Edison2 VLC.

Distinct from Daytona's usual track occupants, the VLC is anything but a stock car. Completely customized from the ground up Edison2's machine was built to test the limits of efficiency. Powered by a single cylinder, 250cc turbocharged engine, the aerodynamic auto is fueled by E-85 fuel and will generate 40-hp. While those specs are at least an order of magnitude weaker than the machine's that usually whip around speedway, the VLC can more than handle its own. In fact, according to team owner Oliver Kuttner the VLC could potentially reach speeds north of 110mph.

While Edison's end goal is to break the under 250cc supercharged land speed record, their Daytona debut was focused on optimizing the VLC's systems for a trial date in the near future. Chief among the team's ambitions was simply testing whether or not the car's engine could handle the banked turns of the speedway.

Unlike driving on a flat track Daytona's steep incline provides a bit of a challenge for those in charge of developing a car's engine. Because of the track's banking, fuel in any car's tank has to deal with gravity and with a liquid's want to form its own level as it round the raceway's inclines. When car's topped up with fuel, that isn't much of a problem as the fuel cell will be consistently fed with gas. However, as a race goes on, fuel in the car's tank will decrease and could reach a level beneath the fuel cell's intake line. If that state occurs any car, regardless of how fuel-efficient or lightweight, will sputter and come to a halt as it gasps for the petrol that sits just beneath its intake. As you can imagine sitting idle on the track is no way to break a land speed record.

Even though it's unlikely that the VLC would run out of fuel across the standard 10 kilometer and 10 mile long land speed record sprints, Edison2's designers are also looking to contest more than just a couple of land speed and endurance challenges. In fact, according to Brad Jaeger, the VLC's driver and Edison2's VP of Engineering, "the VLC could potentialy contest records in the 500km, 500 mile, 1000 km, 1000 miles and even 12 and 24 hour categories." With its litany of record attempts all happening within a single run, ensuring that the VLC's fuel system will be able to consistently supply fuel to its single cylinder was one of the most critical test the Edison2 team could try. 

It almost goes with saying, but after engineering, testing is the most critical component of automotive development. With the help of Siemens' Solid Edge monthly subscription software the Edison2 team were confident that their design would hold up under stressful, real 

world, race day conditions. Not surprisingly, after taking to the track the VLC's engine design performed as expected. Brad was able to pilot the VLC around Daytona's storied track without concern for the physical forces attempting render his car lifeless. Once again, expert engineering coupled with the right tools produced a machine that exceeded expectation.

NASCAR driver Jimmy Thompson once said of Daytona, "There have been other tracks that separated the men from the boys. This is the track that will separate the brave from the weak after the boys are gone." After having visited Daytona and felt the shear physics involved I can say without a doubt, Thompson was correct. What's more, I can also attest that Edison2's VLC will likely hold up as one of the finest, most efficient cars ever to grace one of racing's hallowed grounds.

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Read More About Edison2's VLC:

Edison2 Articles on ENGINEERING.com

Edison2's VLC History

Designing an X-Prize Winning Car

The VLC's Breakthrough Aerodynamics

Lighter is Safer: A New Paradigm in Automotive Design

Engineers Win When Cars Break Land Speed Records


Note: Siemens has sponsored promotion of their design software solutions on ENGINEERING.com. They have no editorial input to this post - all opinions are mine.

Kyle Maxey

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