Mad Science in the Lab
Right about now, Red Bull Racing Team usually sets up shop in Daytona for the second week of preseason testing. But because NASCAR put the kibosh on all official testing and teams have agreed to stay away from race tracks on their own, RBRT is bringing the test to Mooresville.
“We’re always going to try to get better. That’s just the nature of the business,” said John Probst, the team’s technical director. “If you can’t go track testing, you find other ways to do it. You bring the track to the race team.”
The track, in this case, is building No. 3 on the campus of Red Bull Racing Team. Probst prefers the building be called “the lab” because it houses all sorts of fancy, multi-million dollar gadgets that make the Red Bull Toyotas go fast. Now more than ever in the lab and the adjacent engineering offices, more emphasis has been placed on aerodynamics, simulation, dynos and the seven-post shaker rig to test the handling of Daytona or the tricky transitions of Charlotte.
“We used to answer a couple of questions at the track,” Probst noted. “One was if new parts will last. The next question was is the part better. The ‘will-it-last’ question we’ve moved to the lab. I don’t think by any means people are going to stop developing parts. The answers are going to come from the testing you do in the lab.”
Track bar mounts, track bars, spindles, lower control arms, truck arms, chassis — all are under the durability gun in the lab.
“We don’t have time to put 1,500 miles on everything before we say, ‘Go ahead and run this on a race weekend,’” Probst said. “We’ll have it on the seven-poster and run five Bristols or whatever it might be before we release it to the team.”
The lab, however, is insufficient in one area.
“You can’t duplicate the race environment,” Probst said. “We’re not banging up cars here, hitting cars, scraping walls. You can’t predict that sort of thing.”