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updated 2/28/2000

UK2K Trip Report

Page 1: The Show. Uploaded 2/22/00

Page 2: The Engineering Exhibition. Uploaded 2/23/00

Page 3: Dampers at the Show. Uploaded 2/24/00

Page 4: More of the Show. Uploaded 2/25/00

Page 5: Side Trip to the Donnington Collection. Uploaded 2/28/00


Tuesday, January 11 I flew a puddle-jumper flight from Springfield to Chicago O'Hare and then to London Heathrow airport arriving at 6:30 am to a cold drizzle. Jeff Ryan and Glen Knabenshue of Penske Shocks were arriving about the same time on a flight from Philly so I waited a few minutes at the Hertz lot so we could visit. I don't think Americans travel as well as other folks. We like to see familiar faces in foreign lands.

Then it was onto the motorways toward Birmingham with a stop in Northampton to have lunch with Rob White, Cosworth F1 lead engineer. Driving on the left side of the road takes some concentration, but I like the speeds. On the motorways 70 mph is the posted limit but nobody cares if you cruise at 85. So I did. The car I rented was some flavor of Vauxhaul and it was tiny. But it sported a CD changer (which did me no good since I didn't bring any), heated seats, and an LCD dash display that showed outside temperature. The temp was in Centigrade and I didn't change it. When the numbers were below 5 they flashed. I guess it was an ice warning. I wasn't brave enough to get a stick shift.

I met Rob at noon and we took his trick Mondeo to a local pub. He drove as fast as he could on the twisty lanes and it was fun for me to watch him work the car. We drove by a huge, high-walled compound belonging to the Spencer family of the late Princess Diane. The pub food was decent and Rob and I got caught up. I met him seven or eight years ago when he was the CART program manager stationed in Torrance, Calif. He gave me the best interview ever for the Inside Racing Technology book.

When I called Rob in December to ask for a tour and lunch he told me straight out I couldn't see anything current in the shop but he'd have some time for lunch. I whined a little about not getting a shop tour and he said, "Paul, I've already told you how we do it." He was right. That interview in IRT was very complete without giving away anything proprietary. For me the people in racing who REALLY know what they're doing are able to tell you what's important without revealing current, hard-won secrets.

The Ford/Cosworth racing engines continue to improve and are considered to be the best now in CART and among the best in F1. Rob told me they took a bunch of weight out of the latest version for 2000.

Some weight numbers for current F1 engines have been published. The lastest Ford/Cosworth is 97 kg or 214 lb and is the lightest. The Ilmor/M-B is next at 98 kg or 216 lb. The Ferrari weighs 100 kg/220 lb. The older Cosworth is now the Fondmetal customer engine. It weighs 122 kg/269 lb. If that's the next-to-last version then they took out 55 pound with the redesign! That's amazing.

Rob and I have an understanding. I ask questions and he answers them or he doesn't. I enjoy his energy and his intimate knowledge of the internal combustion engine. I always learn something when we talk. Here's a list of questions I asked and the answers:

PH: What RPM now? RW: We actually publish rev limits in some of our press releases. We turned 17,200 in qualifying at some tracks last year.

PH: I know friction reduction keeps getting better. Do you still have three piston rings or has that gone to two or one? RW: It turns out you still need three piston rings, two for compression and one for oil control. Heat transfer to the cylinder wall is still a big job done by the rings.

PH: Whenever I ask about ceramic combustion chamber inserts or piston tops you say you can't talk about that. RW: Still can't.

PH: It seems to me I read piston diameters were getting almost to 100 mm before the displacement reduction from 3500 cc to 3000. Have they gotten back up that far yet? RW: Not quite. But the bore continues to grow and the strokes now are quite tiny. The reasons are simple. Big bore means bigger valves for more airflow. Big bore allows short stroke for lower reciprocating forces and more revs.

When I got back home I added to my Excel file and calculated a 100 mm (3.94 in.) piston diameter and 3000 cc swept volume gives a 1.5 in crank stroke for a 0.38 stroke/bore ratio. That's why clutch diameter continues to decrease. I think F1 is at 4.25 inches now. As the strokes get smaller the clutches will continue to drop and the engine can get lower in the car for a lower center of gravity. And lower CG is one thing that always improves mechanical grip.

After lunch we had another quick trip back to Cosworth and I said thanks and good bye to Rob. On to Birmingham.




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