Thursday, April 12, 2012

A confession, of sorts

When I sourced a wing and a differential for this season, I didn't do my homework.  So often I've gotten away with either getting things right on the first try, or learning to compensate. So I let hubris guide my hand and just mounted the wing, figuring it would just work and I'd be faster. Whee!

Well I'm not.

And now, fully 3 months after putting the thing on the car, I'm reading and learning about how wings work. And the chances of "getting it right on the first try"? Incalculably small without doing some very complex math and having access to a wind-tunnel.

I learned after the first time I used it that the wicker bill was set too steeply, but only dialed it back to 50% in order to keep the downforce. I had considered dialing it all the way down for Summit Point, but now that I know a teensie bit more about How Things Work, I'm thinking I might be better off removing it outright.  I'm also learning that the angle of the wing, though it looks flat, may actually be entirely too steep.  It certainly becomes too aggressive with the wicker bill, which has a mathematically enormous planform at 3.375" chord * 56" span. That's too much for a Miata, IMO, unless I'm just using it for autocross purposes.

So my rant from the other day about removing the wing and building a diffuser...not gonna happen. Further research shows the Miata's rear pressures zone just isn't big enough to benefit from a diffuser, and the car's likely too high off the ground anyway.  Any reduction in lift would be insignificant compared to the points-penalty assessment.

Aero is difficult and confusing. Were it not for the dramatic and easily-observed impact it's made in my braking, I'd ditch it entirely, but I know there's more to it than just looking bad-ass. And I know that getting it right will produce good downforce with minimal drag. I just hope to get it right(er) this season.

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