Breaking the mold

The DeltaWing Project

Cars By Photo by Nissan VIA

There is definitely an auto racing establishment out there. Radical innovations in the field are seen from time to time, but they don’t always succeed. Funding and backing are tough ventures, and there is no guaranteed formula for victory. The creators of the DeltaWing hope to bring their innovative and radical new vehicle to the forefront of racing technology. The DeltaWing Project and the car itself were the dream of Ben Bowlby, whose goal was to enter an all-new design to run in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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With a slender body and a fat rear end, the car was designed to reduce the drag coefficient, making the car aerodynamic and fuel efficient, while maximizing downforce for handling. Honestly, it looks more like a hybridized Batmobile/cruise missile than a Le Mans class racer. Introduced at the Chicago Auto show in 2010, it had no corporate backing and, uh, no engine. Problematic, to say the least. But the minds at DeltaWing kept at it and luck turned out to be on their side.

It was recently announced that Nissan and Michelin are funding the project and supporting the DeltaWing team. Moreover, the DeltaWing now has a powertrain in the form of a 1.6 liter direct-inject 4-cylinder turbo, spitting out a seemingly paltry 300 horsepower, compared to the the 600+ numbers from other LMP1 cars. But the engine is also half the weight and the DeltaWing’s aerodynamic efficiency should lend to some sweet slipstreaming. One of the primary goals of the car is to showcase that smaller, lighter and more efficient is truly better in auto racing.

We’re psyched to see the car run in this year’s Le Mans, though it won’t officially rank due to its experiemental nature. But that matters not. If the car has a successful run, the DeltaWing project may be a bonafide vision of what could be in the future of automotive racing. It’s where the proverbial rubber meets the road, and that we should see on June 16-17, 2012, when it makes its world debut. Stand by and see.

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