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Speed with Guy Martin: Gravity Racer

Lead engineers Dr Heather Driscoll, Dr John Hart, Terry Senior, Alice Bullas, Christina King

Following the success of the first series of Speed with Guy Martin, North One Television got back in contact to ask if we would design and build a gravity racer to attempt to set the official world record for the fastest downhill speed.

The team from CSER designed and constructed the gravity racer around a body scan of Guy Martin. A CAD model was created with Guy seated in a recumbent position which was selected to reduce the frontal area of the racer. A tubular frame was then designed around the virtual Guy incorporating standard roll cage features. The composite body shell was then designed to fit tightly around the structural frame and fared to reduced flow separation/stagnation. 

This was analysed using ANSYS CFD. A small rack and pinion system was modified to give a quick steering input and precise response and Hope Technology brakes were fitted to ensure the racer could come to a controlled stop. As well as the design and build, the team were also responsible for explaining the scientific principles behind gravity racing (aerodynamic drag, rolling resistance and inertia).

In October 2014 the team flew to Mont Ventoux in South France for the final record attempt. After a few runs Guy's confidence in the handling of the racer grew and we were able to push the top speed of the racer from 70 to 80 mph. After a few modifications to the centre of mass and brake bias a fantastic record of 85.612 mph was set.

Total media circulation within the first month of the show broadcasting of 3.7 million viewers as well as 18 separate press articles including The Engineer, The Conversation and regional newspapers.

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