Sprint Car 101: Those Big Wings

Lucas Wolfe

(WOMR file photo)

The Sprint Car Wings

It is my opinion that sprint car wings are one of the most distinguishing features of this race car.  The huge wing totals a 5 foot by 5 foot top wing mounted above the cockpit, racer’s head, and is capable of generating a huge amount of downforce on the race car.  While this wing may look somewhat out of sorts, compared to the Champ car and F1 wings, this wing makes a huge difference to the handling of a sprint car.

Sprint cars also have a much smaller front wing, or nose wing, to help balance the car and to help keep the front end firmly planted on the ground.

These wings were not always a part of sprint car racing, and generally did not appear until the 1970’s. The popularity of sprint car wings increased as teams realized the advantages to be had by racing with the wings.

Designed to create downforce, sprint car wings also provide large areas for sign writing for sponsorship, and most importantly, improved safety by acting as a crumple zone in the event of a roll over.

Sprint car wings acts like an upside down aircraft wings, creating downforce instead of lift.  The wing generates downforce due to the air pressure differential between the top and bottom surfaces of the wing,  Due to the shape and angle of attack (an aeronautical term) of the wing, the air below the wing travels faster than the air above the wing, meaning its air pressure will be lower.

The speed of the air above the wing is either, not changed, or slowed by the shape of the wing, meaning the air pressure of the air above the wing is higher that the air flowing under the wing. The downforce is created as the high pressure area on top of the wing is drawn to the low pressure area under the wing, forcing the wing down.  As the speed of the wing moving through the air is increased, so is the downforce.

Therein is a basic explanation of the effects of the wing!

The next installment will discuss the sprint car cockpit.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.