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APRIL 2006 - TECH TRANSFER

   
Looking back to January’s column, one of those central themes appear to go on about is whatever happened to all those promises that race technology would trickle down to the manufacturer, and eventually into our own garages?
You remember those future cars shown in magazines such as “Popular Mechanics�, with the dome-shaped glass and all that. This is often the justification for racing departments- to design, test, and showcase new technology.
The phrase “win on Sunday, sell on Monday� carried weight then, and should still hold true. Four wheel disc brakes is one of those (unkept?) promises. And so was glass, lots and lots of glass. field of view, shows how far removed the transfer of technology is in visibility terms. Guilty are all the major manufacturers as of late. Exceptions to this existed, for a while- remember the AMC Pacer?
I recognize the trade off between improved deformable structure design and the placement of those pillars- but how about seeing the accident situation and preventing it
before it happens? I would like to see a study comparing the relative number of non-fault accidents involving high-visibility cars against those with “cab-forward� design.
There must be a real danger associated with poorer visibility. A second reason may be the reduced costs with flatter windshields. The mid-1980’s Saab 900 was perhaps an epitome of great glass,
what an amazing cockpit! But added costs mean lower profits, and the bottom line is often the ultimate decision maker.

Visibility is, of course, vital in racing and provides an amazing safety factor. Okay, those of you with roadsters, or maybe a convertible or something like it, lucky lucky lucky- you know what good visibility is.
A third and final reason for this may be improved aerodynamics, and thus reduced fuel consumption. If you are like me, interested in both racing and preserving our environment, reduced emissions are a good thing. But the truth is I just cannot remember seeing a real race car that sacrificed driver visibility, and that technology needs to be brought back into my own garage.

   
   
   
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