180 mph Standing Still

If all goes according to plan at Windshear Inc., North America will gain its first 180-mph rolling-road wind tunnel, which will also be the first commercially available full-scale, rollingroad wind tunnel of its type in the world.

Windshear, which is owned by NASCAR team owner Gene Haas of Haas Automation, has contracted with Jacobs Technology (a subsidiary of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.) to build, operate and provide test services for the wind tunnel on a 5-acre site near Concord Regional Airport in Concord, N.C. With a scheduled opening of the first quarter of 2008, the high-tech facility will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offer its services to all motorsports teams and automakers.

The Single Belt FlatTrac model rolling-road tunnel will accommodate full-scale vehicles and provide constant air speeds to 180 mph with temperatures controlled to within 1 degree F. The tunnel’s high-tech rolling road, which will measure 10.5-ft wide and 29.5-ft long, will accelerate to top speed in less than one minute. And during testing, through-the-belt sensors measure the aerodynamic down force under each vehicle tire.

The “road” is a 1-mm-thick stainless steel belt designed to last about 5,000 operational hours. If a vehicle remained on the belt the entire 5,000 hours, it would have traveled, in reality, as much as 248,000 miles.

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