[watch] Chris Harris drives, and Loves, the DeltaWing
By Zack Klapman
“…in the DeltaWing. I think the most exciting racing car in…30 years.”
That’s how Chris Harris feels about this…car? The DeltaWing; an experimental vehicle that seems to be turning racing on its head, when it’s allowed on the track. And I agree with him. For the most part, race cars (or, cars in general) have followed the same formulas for layout: engine in the front, middle, or back, tires all around, laid out relatively as a rectangle. Wider track here, more power there, yes, but all-in-all, it’s basically been the same since the invention of the checkered flag.
The DeltaWing changes all that not only because it’s different, but because it’s fast(it placed 5th in Petit Le Mans). It was conceived to demonstrate the possibilities when you design a vehicle to be as efficient as possible. The DeltaWing is extremely light, aerodynamic, and fuel efficient. A carbon fiber body resembling a fighter plane wraps around a 1.6-liter turbo-charged engine that makes 300HP. That output would sound like a normal racing engine had dropped a few cylinders, but because of the weight (1,265lbs with driver) , this car is almost as fast as a P1-class race car.
Jump to watch Chris Harris on the DeltaWing, and the fascinating talk with Head Engineer Ben Bowlby.
I believe this is a truly important and fascinating point in racing history. Demonstrating efficiency was the plan, with the results eventually trickling down to passenger cars. That’s all well and good. But what Chris will show you in this video, is that the layout of the DeltaWing enables it to be more stable under cornering and braking than traditional cars. The other day I watched as Jeff Glucker (of Hooniverse) jumped on the brakes in an Aston Martin V-12 Vantage, resulting in the ass wagging side-to-side. It’s a pendulum effect; they read of the car wanting to sling forward around the heavy front. Not so in the DW; with all the weight in the back, as well as the width of the rear track, it simply slows down, like deploying a parachute.
It’s not just an exercise in building something as light as a tissue box, or finding a new way to make fewer pit stops. The Delta Wing is breaking new ground on how to make cars handle better. Who knows how this formula could work with more power, technology, and money? Just looking at it brings up lots of questions, but after watching Chris drive and talk about it, I feel it has even more legitimacy, and I have only more questions. I’m very excited to see how far this car will go. Hopefully sometime soon, it will be allowed to officially compete, and we can see what this 3-legged under-dog can do. That is, if people stop hitting it.
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