Friday, August 20, 2010

Streamliner, Day II

I'm just going to quote from the official BYU Streamliner webpage. Since he's having some formatting issues I'll re-post it here so I can add line breaks. I have some comments to add to this, but not right now.

This morning we arrived at the starting line early. We were there at 6:00 to get our car ready for the record attempt run. We were so excited to be preparing for a record after our 139 mile per hour qualifying run the day before. We prepared the car and took some last photos of the car. Unlike every other car on the track we have no engine oil to warm up, no transmission oil to warm up, and no fuel system to double check. In fact, we had so little to prep compared to other cars that we were able to see some of the other cars that were going for a record. There were an assortment of V-8s and a few four cylinder cars and even a two cylinder air-powered car made by a few Frenchmen. It was cool to see the variety.

We got our car out to the starting line and our great driver suited up and climbed in. His son Bo strapped him in to his seven-point harness and two-point helmet attachment system. We armed the fire system and the parachute and verified the electric drive was in forward. We latched the canopy on on the signal from the race official and Jim slowly laid on the throttle.

From this point I get the story from Jim and the on board video. Unlike the run yesterday where he gave the car about 50% throttle during the run, today he left the hammer down flowing maximum power during the first and second miles. The roughness of the track is apparent in the on board video causing the car to ride rough at low speed. As the streamliner accelerated past 100 miles per hour the averaging affect of speed smoothed out the ride and things began to look very hopeful for our record attempt. Somewhere in the second mile at about 170 miles per hour the car caught a groove in the track that caused the car to turn. Jim was almost able to compensate for the unintentional turn, but as he realized that his efforts were not going to save the run he pulled the chute and the car rolled onto its top. On its way over the side body was pressed into the wheel lug nuts cutting a circular hole in the carbon fiber. The side impact also tried to dislodge our canopy, but the capturing mechanism worked well and kept it in place. The car continued to roll and slid for several seconds on its top. We discovered that the design of the car provided stability while on its roof, preventing a continuous pencil roll that could be so dangerous. The chase truck arrived on the scene seconds after the car came to rest and the crew quickly pushed the car over and Jim got out.

To our great pleasure Jim was unhurt and soon smiling again. We really revere him and respect his courage to test a new high-speed design.

We collected the on board video (which I will post soon) and discovered that the on board data accuisition had collected speed, throttle, current and the other data we wanted, but the hard drive would not connect to our FTP client. We will try to extract the data soon and take a look at exactly how fast Jim was driving and all the other parameters at the time of the crash.

We took the car to impound and the safety officials took the car apart piece by piece looking for clues as to what was the cause. We will look forward to their report with much anticipation.
For me, I am headed on vacation for a while.


It was actually a really special day and one I won't soon forget.

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