Wicks reaches 244.9 MPH in Dodge Charger stock car and improves speed-to-market with more efficient design processes.
Wicks' vehicle was developed with the backing of the Dodge Motorsports Engineering Group and Arrington Engines. Autodesk software was leveraged to make integral performance modifications. Throughout the testing and development phases, Wicks used Autodesk Streamline®-an on-demand collaborative project management solution-to simplify and centralize project-related documents and streamline the design review process.
According to Autodesk, Streamline gives design engineers a single online location for storing, managing and controlling project documents. With an intuitive interface, a design team can work productively with customers and suppliers outside firewalls to get designs approved in less time. Furthermore, the software:
- Notifies personnel when documents are posted, and tracks overdue reviews or approvals.
- Automatically publishes and uploads design data when the engineering team makes updates via AutodeskR Vault software, virtually eliminating the overwriting of work in progress.
- Circumvents sending documents by e-mail, thereby preventing disparate versions, missing attachments and slow servers.
- Incorporates a lightweight and secure format by exporting and publishing designs in DWFT files or Streamline formats.
- Automatically integrates AutodeskR Design Review software to allow digital review, measurement, mark-up, and comment on 2-D and 3-D designs while protecting intellectual property.
- Includes a viewer, so users can view, mark up and measure designs without a license for the corresponding CAD product.
- Allows users to access rich design data, such as bills of materials, finite element analysis results, and in Wicks' case, previous record-breaking speed performance data.
- Maintains file-level threaded discussions, so users can keep a record of changes and decisions about documents.
- Conserves confidentiality by creating private groups.
- Grants users the ability to reuse a standard project template to set up or start new projects.
"Having a lot of 3-D information in one place for everyone to access" was critical, according to Wicks, who thinks collaboration early in the design phase can "save time, resources, money and frustration." He also appreciates that designers can make notations in real-time, and the team can work around obstacles like clearance issues before they happen. Moreover, he says, "We have Inventor files uploaded to Streamline, and the file size is so much smaller and easier to work with-it's really ideal."
"Visualization in the design phase is important because it allows design engineers to share data, which results in better integration of designer specialties," Wicks continues, "and eliminates the disconnect between engineers in different disciplines." Furthermore, these engineers can also share data as it's being developed, so design reviews are more efficient. "We had less than 30 days from initiation of the project to breaking the record," Wicks admits.
Wicks' requirements documents were based on previous world speed record-breaking trials. He used Autodesk AliasStudio to optically scan the vehicle, thereby generating a 3-D model of the stock car. Then, using built-in data exchange tools, Wicks and his team were able to export these designs into Autodesk Inventor, a 3-D modeling package that allows users to virtually explore their ideas before building them. This enabled Wicks to fully test the effectiveness of outer mold-line surfaces like spoilers and fins before creating any physical prototypes. According to Wicks, these software solutions are "as close as you can get to holding a part in your hand."
While maintaining NASCAR template regulations, some modifications the team made to the stock car to ready it to break the world speed record include:
- Compensation for the transmission offset (which was last optimized for a different track), taking into account both ride height and attitude of the vehicle.
- Reconfiguration of undervehicle components for improved aerodynamic performance.
- Transformation of the suspension to be more symmetrical, enabling the stock car to be lower to the ground, which is better suited for racing on straight tracks.
- Development of bump stops and the identification of the best location to fit them on the car.
"The Autodesk manufacturing solution was indispensable to the development of this record-breaking vehicle," explains Wicks. "From communication and collaboration, to visualization and engineering, Autodesk provided the best possible tools for the vehicle development process." As a boon to the software, Wicks is already in the midst of designing his next record-breaking vehicle for 2008 with Autodesk Streamline and AliasStudio.
Russ Wicks is the founder and president of the American Challenge, a consortium of professionals focused on breaking world speed records. For more information, visit www.russwicks.com, www.americanchallengewsr.com or www.autodesk.com/americanchallenge.