TFE blog

The Zones

Posted by on Jul 3, 2013 in Current projects and Tech Notes | Comments Off

The Zones

My latest article for NASA’s Speed News expands on a topic that I have discussed small pieces of in prior articles: aerodynamic performance enhancements for production-based race cars. The title of the article is “Getting Into the Zones“. In addition to basic guidance on aero mods that have been proven effective many times, I added a graphic illustration that I have not seen anywhere before. It partitions a race car body into various color coded zones, with each zone having a different level and type of influence on the aerodynamic performance of the car. Some areas of a race car are highly sensitive to small changes, while others have very minor effects. Knowing where to make changes is just as important as what change to make to improve aero performance. The article describes each zone and some of the aero performance changes that can result from modifications in each zone. Check it out! You just might like it.

As always, I’m honored and humbled by the opportunity to contribute to NASA’s Speed News e-zine, and I look forward to future opportunities.

Making Tools

Posted by on Jun 15, 2013 in Current projects and Tech Notes | Comments Off

Making Tools

My latest article for NASA’s Speed News is a big departure from my usual coverage of complicated motorsports engineering concepts. It’s much more down to earth: Dirt Cheap Fabrication Tools. Having grown up learning from my father’s skills at creating amazing results with very simple equipment, I benefitted tremendously from his inventiveness, ambition, creativity, and craftsmanship. The timing of the publication of this article turned out to be a perfect opportunity to make this a Father’s Day tribute.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

In addition, this article was a fun family project since both of our sons contributed by taking the accompanying photos. Thanks, guys! Great job.

Splitters, Spoilers and Wings

Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Current projects and Tech Notes | Comments Off

Splitters, Spoilers and Wings

My latest article in NASA‘s Speed News magazine is once again the featured subject on the cover! This article describes the basics of air dams, splitters, spoilers, and rear wings. Those are all practical and inexpensive additions with a good performance payoff in terms of lap time, and in terms of performance gain per dollar spent. It is an honor and a priviledge to be able to share my knowledge and experience with NASA’s racing membership. Many thanks to the staff and management of Speed News, and I look forward to future opportunities to contribute. Check out the article starting on page 34 by clicking here.

Speed Demon

Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in Current projects and Tech Notes | Comments Off

Speed Demon

Think Fast – The Racer’s Why-To Guide to Winning has been selected as one of Popular Mechanics “10 Racing Books to Channel Your Inner Speed Demon”! Here is what Phil Berg of Popular Mechanics has to say about Think Fast:

If you could tap the mind of a racer and engineer, you’d have a shortcut to learning all the different disciplines required to put together a well-rounded team from one point of view. Author Neil Roberts was an SCCA formula car road racer and an engineer for the Swift Indy car company. In addition to these accomplishments, in Think Fast Roberts translates engineer-speak to language the rest of us can relate to and apply to more of life’s tasks than just racing a car.
Mega thanks to Popular Mechanics for including my book in this list. The authors of the other 9 books are names you will recognize, so to be included in this group is a tremendous honor.
Click here to see for yourself what Think Fast is all about, and you can order a copy for yourself if you like what you see!

Not Fade Away

Posted by on Mar 6, 2013 in Current projects and Tech Notes | 2 comments

Not Fade Away

The March 2013 issue of NASA‘s Speed News e-zine features my article titled “Not Fade Away” as the cover subject for the issue. Many thanks to NASA and the Speed News staff for this honor. This article describes how and why air cooling of race car brakes makes a car with marginal brake cooling faster, safer, and less expensive to operate. It also describes how to add a brake cooling system to your racer. Click this link to read the issue, and stay tuned for more of my articles in future issues. I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to contribute to Speed News, and I look forward to each new issue.

Scratchin’ Faster

Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 in Current projects and Tech Notes | 1 comment

Scratchin’ Faster

Paul Costas has done it again.

Two more Whelen US Time Trial Championship days at Texas World Speedway, two more wins, two more track records. He makes it look easy, especially considering that Scratcher is actually a simple, conservative, low budget track day car that is up against much more modern, sophisticated, and expensive machines. A big part of Scratcher’s performance is Paul’s driving skill and experience at TWS. The rest is a result of spending money on only the high-payoff performance items, clear thinking, and logical development. Paul and I have been educating each other for decades on our respective specialties, so it is especially gratifying to see him perform well on the race track.

This achievement has extended Paul’s win streak in Scratcher to a perfect 5 for 5: Five NARRA events, five TTU wins, five TWS track records.

Paul Costas’ 5 for 5 TTU trophy collection

I am sure that there will be many more opportunities to highlight Paul’s racing accomplishments as Scratcher’s development continues. For now, celebrating this win is great fun. Congrats to Witchdoctor Motorsports!

Big Goals, Thin Wallet

Posted by on Feb 6, 2013 in Current projects and Tech Notes | Comments Off

Big Goals, Thin Wallet

The February 2013 issue of NASA‘s Speed News e-zine includes my article entitled “Big Goals, Thin Wallet“. As you might imagine, it’s about how to economize your racing program where you can, but it’s also about selecting the few key items that you should splurge on. I have spent a lot of years and a lot of nickels and dimes shredding rubber into dust, and my results have taught me a thing or two about turning pennies into performance. I would like to thank Speed News for the opportunity to share what I have learned along the way, and I look forward to future opportunities to contribute.

Click and read! You just might like it.

Best of the Best

Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in Current projects and Tech Notes | Comments Off

Best of the Best

NASA‘s December 2012 issue of the e-zine Speed News is their “Best of the Best” issue, and it includes a reprint of my article “Crude Tactics” from the October issue. It is an honor for my writing to be included in a “best of” issue.

I would like to thank the National Auto Sport Association and the editorial staff at Speed News for this compliment, and I look forward to more opportunities to contribute to Speed News in the coming months. Stay tuned for more!

Fan Mail

Posted by on Dec 19, 2012 in Current projects and Tech Notes | Comments Off

Fan Mail

Here is a recent example of the positive feedback that I get about Think Fast – The Racer’s Why-To Guide to Winning.

———–

I received your book yesterday and just finished what I am certain is the first of many more readings. It is an excellent piece of work  that takes up from where Carroll Smith left off so many years ago. My editions of Smith’s works are so dogged-eared that further reading now requires a certain delicacy.

It’s not only the information you provide, but the logical progression through each area and from one area to next that is exemplary. I am not an engineer by training nor any stretch of the imagination. My understanding of race cars began the day I brought home my first Formula Ford in 1971 and began taking it apart.

To to tell the truth, despite many rereadings of certain concepts in Smith’s books, there were always several concepts that I had trouble getting my head around. In at least two instances, you have wiped away the lack of understanding and made those things easy to grasp.

Again, my thanks for your effort to put this work together and make all that very important information available to the likes of myself.

————–

See what I mean about positive feedback? It’s downright humbling.

You can check out Think Fast, read several excerpts and reviews, and order a copy for yourself or a racer you know by clicking here:

http://thinkfastbook.com

 

 

Then, Now, and Soon

Posted by on Dec 17, 2012 in Current projects and Tech Notes | Comments Off

Then, Now, and Soon

When the posts on this blog get less frequent, it means that a lot is going on behind the scenes. That has been the case for a long time, and it’s all good news!

I recently completed more than a year of consulting for the Northrop Grumman Corporation, helping develop a number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for military applications. Some of those aircraft are in the field now, saving the lives of America’s warriors at this very moment. Some are nearing completion, and others are in the early stages of development. Each aircraft will have an important role to perform for our military services. I would like to thank the key decision makers at Northrop who opened the door for me to contribute to the defense of the nation in some small way.

I recently began a long term assignment for Honda Performance Development, and I’m having an absolute blast in the process! Everything about it is better than I have experienced in a very long time: the environment, the clarity, the focus, the resources, the traditions, the history of excellence, and the freedom to innovate. Of course all of that is because the people are absolutely spectacular. Great things are coming from this group.

In addition to the projects that I can tell you about, there are more under way, but they are not ready for the spotlight just yet. One of those projects is absolutely spectacular and amazingly fun, so it’s hard for me not to tell you about it. When the time is right, I will.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, there is an amazingly excellent possbility for the future, but that is also way too early to talk about. The combination of all this engineering goodness then, now, and soon has me smiling all day every day. There has never been a better moment in my career.