The Future of Pikes Peak Aero
Rhys Millen and Red Bull aren’t known for following conventions. When they set their sights on the Unlimited Class record at Pikes Peak, they built a car like nothing that mountain had ever seen. Conventional wisdom said cars need to climb the mountain with a high ride height. Rhys, who broke the rear-wheel-drive class record in 2009, knew he could get up the mountain with a lower car. This changed everything.
Lowering the ride height is game changing for ground effect. Rhys’s new design incorporated two large venturi which create enough suction to pull dirt and pebbles right off the road. By hugging the ground, the low pressure created by the venturi acts over the entire underside of the car, multiplying the effect of the venturi, and gluing Rhys’s turbocharged Hyundai to the road. You can see the huge venturi extending out of the backside of the car.
The Aeromotions Wing.
This dual element Dynamic Wing was custom designed for the Red Bull car. Careful design and analysis ensured the air flowed smoothly from the front aifoil, to the rear airflow, providing maximum downforce. In fact, the car body had to be reshaped to ensure the air entered the wing at the correct angle. But the real magic happens bellow.
Playing well with the Venturi.
On a car like the PM580, venturi’s provide the majority of the downforce. The maximum grip is achieved by thinking about the car’s entire aero package. Setting the wing low, close to the venturi exit, reduces the downforce generated from the wing alone. However, the low pressure created on the bottom side of the wing helps suck air out from the underbody – enhancing the downforce from the venturis. The net effect is more grip. In order for this trick to work, you have to home in on the sweet spot – where the air from the venturis flows perfectly onto the underside of the wing.
Red Bull and the Phantom. Helping Dial In the Aero.
Final tuning of the wing was done on the mountain at Pikes Peak. We had to adjust the wing to dial in the correct interaction with the underbody venturis. Without a wind tunnel, however, it’s very hard to get feedback on the optimal wing placement. Enter the Red Bull film crew, and their epic Phantom Camera. The Red Bull guys setup on a dirt section of Pikes Peak. The venturis worked so well, they literally sucked the dirt off the road. Through the eyes of the Phantom, we were able to watch the dusty air flow out of the tunnel and exhaust out the back of the car. With a little tweaking, we had the air flowing perfectly up the wing. Maximum downforce was at hand. You can see the dirt road section in the final Red Bull video below.
2010 Pikes Peak Hill Climb
2011 Pikes Peak Hill Climb