By Steve Zongker
As the calendar rolls over into a new year, racing fans begin to wake out of their winter slumber. This yearâ€™s sports car off-season seemed to have more news than usual. From driver rankings, to Balance of Performance (BoP), to new cars being developed, and even teams switching series. Everything seemed to indicate that whatever series you followed, new and interesting topics would be taking place during the 2015 â€œRoar Before the 24â€ at Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
A little background about me, my name is Steve (https://twitter.com/FloppyEarRacing) and I am a racing junkie pure and simple. Not only am I motorsports enthusiast, but I am also an Information Technology (IT) nerd. For most of my career, I have been â€œthat IT guyâ€ you call at work, when something breaks on your computer.
Recently, I was asked by Vickie Miller if I would be interested in writing an article about the â€œRoarâ€. I was equally intrigued, and petrified. I have never written an article for anyone. Ok, maybe in crayon on a piece of cardboard when I was in kindergarten, but not for the world to see and read.
After getting over the initial reaction, I really got excited, because now I could have an opportunity to delve into world of technology in motorsports from a fanâ€™s perspective.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending time in the paddock with one of the more unique teams in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship (TUSCC), the DeltaWing Racing team.
One of DeltaWingâ€™s proud claims is the following: â€œThe result is a race car that is approximately half the weight, requires roughly half the horsepower and uses about half the fuel of its competitors.â€
Christian â€œSkitterâ€ Yaeger is the Senior Design Engineer of the DeltaWing car, and he provided valuable insight to the team during the second day of testing at the â€œRoarâ€.
Skitter has worked for approximately 2 Â½ years with the team and has lengthy background and education in design engineering.
One of the first things I noticed about this particular team is that this is a smaller organization compared to others in the paddock area (The team had 15 technicians at the track during the 2015 â€œRoarâ€ sessions). Yet, each person has the same passion and skills as anyone else up and down the paddock operating with bigger budgets.
I asked Skitter about his role with the team. It is amazing at the list of things he named, that we as fans donâ€™t realize need to be done with a top-notch racing organization. One of his roles is designing and engineering new parts and components to the engine compartment of the car. He pointed out numerous components to the car that have been originally designed specifically for the DeltaWing car.
As of this test, they were still awaiting delivery of a brand new gearbox which has been specifically designed for this yearâ€™s car. According to Skitter, when the team returns to their Braselton, GA home (the week of January 12th, 2015), they intend to tear down the car and begin installation of the new gearbox.
During our time, we spent quite a bit going over some technical points, mainly about what it takes to race the DeltaWing. Topics we covered ranged from the amount of data processed during a weekend, to predicting possible points of failure, to even the amount of caffeine that is consumed during a 36-hour period!
It was intriguing to me the amount of effort and time it takes for the engineers to digest and comprehend the data that streams to the team before, during, and after a run on the track.
Items such as tire and brake pressures and temperatures, oil and coolant levels, speeds, times, positioning on track, and so many other items continuously are being monitored and relayed back to not only the team, but the race organizers as well.
When you look at the timing and scoring results from each of the four practices DeltaWing participated in, the team was no lower than tenth overall. We certainly can expect good things from this team in 2015!
So many times, we as race fans forget what truly goes on behind the scenes of our favorite tracks and race teams. Hopefully, I can bring some of that to you in the near future.
Thank you so very much to Skitter for taking time out of his very busy day. Much thanks to Diane Swintal from DeltaWing. I cannot forget Vickie Miller for continuing inspiration in writing this article and to Patrick Reynolds for having faith in me. I hope I did well for my first time.