F1 in America

Yesterday Windshear Inc held "a grand opening" for the world's first commercially available full-scale, single-belt, rolling road wind tunnel. This is located in Concord, North Carolina, in the heart of NASCAR country. The facilty, which can simulate conditions of cars running at 180mph, is owned by California-based Haas Automation, one of the world's biggest machine tool companies.

The word on the grapevine is that McLaren and Renault have already booked time in the facility and we have even heard that Renault has had a car in the tunnel.

The company admitted in April that it had an agreement with a Formula 1 team to begin testing work and said that it had talked to several other teams.

"We are excited to have our first Formula 1 team on board," said business manager Peter Zierhut at the time. "F1 represents some of the highest technology racing in the world and it's a tribute to Windshear's capabilities to be selected by some of the top names in racing worldwide."

Windshear is one of three full scale, single-belt, rolling road wind tunnels in the world but is the only one available commercially.

The project was spearheaded by F1/Indycar engineer Ken Anderson on behalf of its owner Gene Haas who also owns California based Haas Automation, one of the world's biggest machine tool companies. The main feature of the tunnel is the stainless steel belt rolling road developed by MTS, the market leader in testing products such as rolling roads, shaker rigs, and transient dynos which are used by most of the F1 teams. The Windshear facility is designed to run 24 hours a day and seven days a week. It features a 5100 horsepower carbonfiber fan which is 22ft in diameter and moves around 80,700 cubic meters of air per minute.

The new windtunnel may be the first in F1 but there are suggestions that one or two teams may be planning to invest in such technology. The word in Italy is that Ferrari has plans for a new facility along similar lines.

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