NASCAR adopts Delcam's PowerINSPECT
NASCAR has added Delcam's PowerINSPECT inspect software, together with a Romer CimCore inspection arm, at its research and development facility in Concord, North Carolina, as part of the inspection procedures it uses to enforce its regulations in America's major stock-car racing competitions. This follows the earlier decision of the FIA, the governing body for Formula One racing, to use PowerINSPECT for its pre- and post-race inspections.
In order to maintain competitiveness between its teams, NASCAR severely restricts the extent of the changes that can be made to the cars used in its races. Gary Nelson, NASCAR’s Managing Director of R&D, explained that "the Romer CimCore arm and PowerINSPECT help us make sure that all the Fords, Chevys, Dodges and Pontiacs really have the same configuration as the baseline configuration approved for competition by NASCAR.”
For more than a decade, every racecar has been dimensionally checked before, and some after, qualifying runs and races with templates of its required shape created from production vehicles. The biggest challenges with templates are translating dimensions taken from the automakers’ "submission” vehicles (and CAD models) into the silhouettes of the templates – plus duplicating them, getting them into the hands of the teams and sponsors, and checking them periodically.
Inspection with PowerINSPECT is bringing a much greater degree of precision. A few years ago, variations in a racecar’s length or profile might be as much as an inch. Now with many teams using aerodynamic testing, CFD and wind tunnels to a much greater degree, a worthwhile competitive advantage may be gained by altering the profile of a hood or bumper by as little as an eighth of an inch.
"The templates’ accuracy is very good now,” Mr. Kurtz said, "but it will become crucial as race team engineers learn to use dimensional technology to wring small but crucial advantages from smaller and smaller tweaks. The portable CMM also makes it easy to add new measurements.” These could be dictated by an automaker’s new submissions or by advances in safety such as driver seats and restraints, fire fighting and escape hatches.
"The Romer CimCore arm and PowerINSPECT helps keep all of our race teams competitive by making sure that money doesn’t make some teams more equal than others. If we allowed that to happen, the victory laps would soon be dominated by a handful of wealthy teams. Then the skill and determination of the individual drivers and pit crews would not count for much anymore,” concluded Mr. Nelson.