Many production cars start at the touch of a button rather than the turn of a key. This popular technology has been borrowed from racing technology. There are a number of variations in this technology. BMW
, for example, has systems in which the driver has to insert a key before into a slot before pushing the button. This is done to avoid accidents and ensure that the driver actually intends to start the car.
Infiniti has a similar system in which an electronic fob communicates with the car. When someone holding the fob approaches the car, the car doors unlock automatically. When the car discovers the fob inside it, the button is activated and starts the vehicle at the push of the button. This technology is a typical of many race cars.
Movies make the brakes so dramatic, but car brakes in real life are rather drama-free. Race cars usually do more than 200 miles an hour
, and so the brakes have to be more efficient and accurate. Racing engineers have come up with brake designs that provide accurate braking under extreme conditions.
Disc brakes made their appearances in race cars as early as 1950s. Racing teams could not have been happier because these brakes were more powerful and efficient than drum brakes.
Additionally, disc brakes are also easier to cool. When brakes are applied to stop a car, a lot of friction and heat is generated, which reduces the stopping capacity of the brakes. Now a days, most of the road cars have disc brakes on all four corners or at east the front wheels.
Dual Overhead Camshafts
Whenever we talk about cars, Dual Overhead Cam engine, or DOHC makes an appearance more than frequently. But many people know very little about DOHCs.
Engines have valves that open and close and thereby let the air come in and exhaust go out. A camshaft, also known as cam opens and closes the valves. If there are two cams on the engine, or dual cams, the valves become more efficient and open and close twice as rapidly, allowing for better performance. This type of engine designed first appeared in race cars in the early 1900s, and still continues to be one the popular engine designs to this day. This technology also appears in a number of production cars.
Exterior components on cars like hood scoops have significant performance purposes. And that is precisely why they are put there on the race cars. Whether it is NASCAR or Formula One
, everything on the exterior of a race car has a purpose.
And since these designs have been closely associated with the power, performance and style of a race car, they have easily been translated into production cars too. Race cars were the first ones to use wind tunnel testing to create the most aerodynamic shapes. And since race cars have to maintain high speeds and stability, spoilers and air dams were created by race car engineers. These components were good on race cars and automakers soon started incorporating them in their production cars too.
One of the many reasons race cars can maintain high track times is because of the reason that they are very light. But, of course, it is easier to build a light-weight race car when it has to accommodate just a driver and even a full interior is not a necessity. But race car engineers have utilised lightweight materials to help make their cars faster.
One of the most frequently used lightweight materials in race cars is carbon fibre. F1
race car bodies are made almost completely of carbon fibre. Carbon is fibre is immensely lightweight and very strong. And now many of the car manufacturers are building their production car bodies using this lightweight material. And because carbon fibre is so light, it can significantly increase the fuel economy in production cars. But the glitch is that it is too expensive to use on most cars.
Because it's so light, carbon fibre could radically increase fuel economy in production cars. The problem: It's too expensive to use on most cars.
From a long time aluminium has been used in race cars primarily for the engine block. And now aluminium engine blocks are being used in production cars for some time now. And not only that some automakers are also using aluminium for certain exterior body panels, too. Apparently, aluminium hoods are becoming popular among the car manufacturers. And because aluminium is relatively cheaper than carbon fibre, it has found its way into the making of production cars a little faster than the more expensive carbon fibre parts.
Aluminium reduces the weight of the car and thus, improves fuel efficiency, without affecting the performance or durability.
Because car racing demands extreme performances, the latest in automobile safety
equipment becomes totally necessary for a race car. These safety technologies are deeply ingrained in production cars too.
All race cars are built around a structure that protects the driver. In NASCAR, a roll cage protects the driver. This roll cage is a network of steel tubes that absorbs impacts, and protects the driver. The same principle goes into production car safety cages too. These cages are well hidden under the carpet, headliner material, door trim and other interior features.
In early 1900s, race car drivers realised that having a rear-view mirror would help them spot the competition approaching from behind. And from then on, rear-view mirrors have become a very common safety component in every production car. Surprising, but true.