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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Borrowing Ideas...

The bulk of this post will be the cross-infiltration of ideas in motorsport, but first, some personal crap about my day to get out of the way.

First off, my parents rescued a couple of cats a while back, one is a three year old feral black cat, and the other was a near-feral grey and white 6 (now 7-8) month old kitten.  We settled on naming the black cat "Momma Kitty", because that's what we've been calling it since it was brought home.  

It took a while longer, but today, we settled on naming the grey kitten "Marcy", as in Marcy from Married with Children.  As far as how they act, Momma Kitty likes being petted and touched, though she's reluctant to exit her little carrier that she's called home since she's been brought home.  Marcy, on the other hand, does like being held, though she's young and curious, and wants to jump down and explore while she's being held while her carrier is cleaned.  However, she does jump back in it when it's put back together and willingly stays there, aside from reaching her paws out to play with Momma Kitty or Shelby, one of our other cats.

I've also had a pretty decent day.  The weather is decent, it's supposed to be warm tomorrow, and it's not supposed to rain until next Tuesday.  That's good, because my whole yard is a friggin' swamp right now.

Now the borrowing ideas stuff.   This was inspired by a post I made on the Motorsports Mayhem forum during the NASCAR race when someone was asking about how pit road speed is determined by drivers as far as obeying it. 

In NASCAR, it's pretty simple.  They have a tachometer, that sets the speed by RPM.  They also have lights that show that their either good or over the limit.

In other racing series, such as road racing and open wheel, they have electronic limiters that when activated, won't allow the engine to go above a certain RPM.  Usually, they work, but they're still electronic bits, and can fail.

Over the years, I've noticed that Audi Sport on all their LMP1 racing cars have fitted information stickers in an area of the cars where the drivers can refer to them.  They usually have info such as pit road speed in RPM, pace car speed in RPM, and other info as far as target component temperature ranges, target fuel consumption, etc.

Of course, the Audi LMP1 steering wheels have at least--if not more--computing power than an average laptop, and even the old R8's steering wheel, which looks primitive today, being about 15 years old, cost thousands of dollars.  It's been said that from the R10 onwards though the R15 and R18 family, which all have had digital LCD displays integrated into the wheel, cost as much as one of Audi's mid-range luxury or sports sedans or coupes; price has been estimated as being between $35,000-$50,000 for one of those wheels.

But even at that, Audi does have the "NASCAR" route as a plan B, a bit of redundancy in case plan A fails.

And it's stuff like that which has made Audi so successful in sportscar racing.  They always seem to have a plan for in case things go wrong.  That's what separates the good teams from the great, and the great teams from the legends.

And that's what leads me to the cross-pollination of ideas across motorsports disciplines and how once an idea is proven or improved, it finds its way elsewhere.

In addition to Audi's "old school" (and I'm not talking about one of the Undertaker's signature wrestling moves) back up to proven electronics for pit road and pace car speed limits, there's other ideas that have been made and improved upon.

Duct tape has long been the standard to fix just about everything imaginable, and often been the staple of improvised, Rube Goldberg-like fix-it solutions.  NASCAR, obviously, is no exception.  

However, there's a type of really sticky, insanely robust duct tape sold in huge sheets called Bear Bond.  How it came about was a Corvette Racing/Pratt & Miller engineer was watching a NASCAR race or something of that nature who though that the old standard of duct tape could be improved for rapid, improvised fixes on racing cars.  He made it stickier and tackier, and made it more durable and robust, and intended for it to be made into sheets that can be trimmed to any size desired.  Hence, Bear Bond was born and has come into wide spread use.

Even when Audi were testing at Sebring earlier this month, when they tuned on the car's bodywork, they broke out the duct tape/Bear Bond strips, Bondo and primer paint for quick tuning solutions.

And even in NASCAR, often ripped on for being a technologically backwards sport, these guys who drive and work on the cars aren't stupid, and they know good ideas when they see them.  Rightfully or wrongfully, the rules don't really permit a lot of "good ideas" to be used.  But they still use them where they can, and that's why the really successful teams are really successful, be it adapting an idea seen elsewhere, or learning tips on car preparation and improvising fixes where needed.  

Audi Sport and Corvette Racing have excelled at car preparation and having solutions planned out for quick fixes when needed, and even have proven to be extremely inventive on the fly and for thinking quickly when needed.  

And racing teams have picked up on and learned how to fix and prepare their cars for when stuff goes wrong, and how to have great cars from when they unload them.

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