Underground Aerodynamic Facility Coming to the UK
On the earth’s surface, it’s easy to deduce if you’re near a racetrack. You’re surrounded by the smell of burnt brakes, the sting of racing fuel, and of course – the ear-searing noise. But in rural Northamptonshire, located in the United Kingdom, passersby will be a lot closer to racers and supercars than they might know. Potentially right underneath their feet. RELATED: Check out Daniele Pelligra's wild 2014 Ferrari LMP1 Concept
A company called Aero Research Partners (ARP) has plans to turn the UK’s Catesby Tunnel, a 1.7-mile long stretch of disused underground train tracks, into a world-class aerodynamic testing facility. Sound really complicated? It is, though remarkably simple in theory.
In a wind tunnel, airflow is studied as it moves over a stationary object. By comparison, this new tunnel facility will test vehicle aerodynamics as they move at speed through air, a more efficient and accurate examination.
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The subterranean tunnel affords ARP an arrow-straight test run with a gentle incline, along with constant conditions for aerodynamic testing given its protection from the elements. Large staging areas bookend the chute at either side and will feature automated turntables to allow for quick returns. Once complete, ARP plans to rent out the Catesby Tunnel for private testing, both to automakers and racing outfits alike.
Considering its location in the heart of Britain’s "Motorsport Valley" – the central hub of numerous Formula One teams and racing companies – it ought to get a fair amount of business.
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If the idea sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Back in 2003, NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi bought 0.8-miles of unused Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnel, located near Laurel Hill, Pennsylvania, and converted it into a private testing facility. Since its inception, Ganassi has used the tunnel to test NASCAR stock cars and even the 2004 G-Force Indycar.
According to Racecar Engineering, the Catesby Tunnel will not only be longer than the Laurel Hill facility, but also much more advanced. Then again, if you expect Infiniti Red Bull or the Mercedes Formula 1 teams to show up – it better be.
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