One-of-a-kind wind tunnel nearly ready to roll
By Sara Gregory
CONCORD ó The road can accelerate up to 180 mph in one minute at wind speeds up to 180 mph.
And yet the car doesn’t move.
When Windshear’s wind tunnel opens soon, stock cars, open-wheel racecars and production cars will be able to use the facility to test aerodynamics.
Windshear, an independently run entity of Haas Automation, built the wind tunnel at 1050 Ivey Cline Road, near Concord Airport.
It’s top-of-the line technology that will offer a testing environment for motorsports organizations, many of which are located near NASCAR-rich Concord already.
“It’s the only one available in the world like it,” said Randy Graves, a customer operations representative for Windshear. Two wind tunnels in Europe are as advanced as this one, but they are not used by outside entities.
Air from a 22-foot wide fan travels across the vehicle to simulate driving conditions up to 180 mph.
“This is the only (wind tunnel) that has blades like this,” site manager Jeffrey Bordner said.
The fan can push through 2.3 million cubic feet of air per minute.
Meanwhile, a steel belt drives the car’s wheels as it would around a race track.
The steel belt ó the wind tunnel’s “rolling road” ó is 1 millimeter thick and floats on a cushion of air that’s similar to that of an air hockey table.
“It’s basically floating on air,” Bordner said.
The wind tunnel can be used to test drag resistance at various speeds. Testing sessions typically last 10 hours.
There are three work areas that will allow different teams to work at the same time, rotating in and out of the tunnel. Each bay has a TV and a computer.
The wind tunnel isn’t open yet, but once Windshear finishes final calibrations, it expects crews from across the country and internationally to use the facilities. Already it’s almost fully booked through the end of the year.
“The facility would love to be running around the clock,” Bordner said.