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Ground Effect Racing

Not quite a car, not quite a plane
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F1 racing involves wheels

Jet racing involves wings

Ground Effect Racing is a hybrid of the both

According to wikipedia "ground effect is the increased lift and decreased drag that an aircraft's wings generate when they are close to a fixed surface"

Also there are already aircraft that uses this effect but tend to be for cargo lifting purpose like the "Lun Ekranoplan", and are all sea based.

I wonder if we could have some sort of 'car sized' racing vehicle that can use ground effect to essentially race across the racetrack in a "star wars speeder" kind of way. Might need some wheels to get speed up before the jet engine could kick in.

Well it was cool in my head. Not sure on the practicality of making such vehicle on a standard F1 racetrack.

mofosyne, Jun 19 2013

The Skimmer http://www.gizmag.com/go/6864/
Could look like this, but I would like this to be land launched if possible [mofosyne, Jun 19 2013]

kit version http://www.youtube....watch?v=fRThDxlqMVg
[not_morrison_rm, Jun 19 2013]

Iranian version (video) http://www.youtube....watch?v=qTIoezhRS3g
[not_morrison_rm, Jun 19 2013]

Russian G.E. transport http://www.youtube....watch?v=mZD3OICzTAs
Not for racing, but still cool. [Vernon, Jun 19 2013]

[link]






       It has to be said that the "hitting the ground effect" is usually more spectacular, even for those with unaided vision.
not_morrison_rm, Jun 19 2013
  

       Turning is the problem.
DIYMatt, Jun 19 2013
  

       //Rudders.//   

       Slipping/skidding, yaw-roll coupling, crashing, dying.
DIYMatt, Jun 19 2013
  

       [+] I misunderstood it as hovercraft racing at first read since ground effect is the principle they operate under.
FlyingToaster, Jun 19 2013
  

       Quibbleistically speaking, you're wrong. The physical principles are the same, but hovercrafts create their own 'ground effect' with downward thrust, whereas true GEVs are lifted by true ground effect created by overpressure built up between the groundand a lifting body under _forward_ thrust.
Alterother, Jun 19 2013
  

       //hovercraft.. downward thrust// semantics: I don't think "thrust" is the right word: a 1hp lawnmower engine can power a mini-hoverpodium you can ride on, but you couldn't lift yourself up with a 1hp helicopter.   

       //GEV// sp. "WIG"
FlyingToaster, Jun 19 2013
  

       [bigsleep] You'll need more than trim tabs and avionics to provide the lateral acceleration to make a turn. Typically a plane does that by banking, but steep banking in ground effect doesn't work very well. The vehicles for this could be designed with additional vertical surfaces, but those will also have limits.   

       So the easy solution is to make the race track with high banked turns. Smaller maneuvers are made within the limits of banking that can be done in ground effect. But it seems to me that racing these on a track could be very boring since they won't be very maneuverable. It would be all about timing your maneuvers to get past the opponents. Oh wait, is there more than one competitor on the track at once, or are we just racing against the clock here?   

       For off-track racing, the course could be strategically designed to have corners near natural hills. Racers can use these hills to their advantage to make the turns faster, but since the hillside would not generally be optimally shaped for making the turn, it would require a lot of skill to make the turn quickly without slamming into the hillside or "missing" the hill and consequently making the turn much-much wider than it would have been. I envision the most interesting tracks to be over terrain with many rolling hills, which would allow many possible options for the best route, but would somewhat reduce the risk of running into a cliff. The biggest danger would probably be accidently jumping over the top of the hill and not having enough lift to avoid bottoming out on the landing. Maybe the vehicles could be designed so they can actually maintain sustained flight out of ground effect in cases like this, possibly by extending flaps and boosting engine power. Using that capability would of course result in immediate disqualification, but at least the pilot would have a better option than the ejection seat in the above situation.   

       Maybe also have sensors on the wingtips that trigger if they get within 6 inches of the ground. That will result in an immediate virtual crash and disqualification. This will give a little extra safety margin and slightly reduce the number of actual crashes.
scad mientist, Jun 19 2013
  

       Some aircraft are quite comfortable at low speeds, so a WIG can fly even slower, ie: I don't think crashing would be any more worry than in a medium to high speed car race.
FlyingToaster, Jun 19 2013
  

       //worry than in a medium to high speed car race.   

       Possibly not, but hair prosthetic aircraft, like the ekranoplan have a nasty propensity to flip, which most cars don't.
not_morrison_rm, Jun 19 2013
  

       Skis (or skids, on a dry course) would be a practical necessity. If the wing of a GEV dips too low (we're talking really low) it will basically be pulled toward the ground by the lower part of the overpressure pocket. A lightweight but durable wireframe skid might prevent that.
Alterother, Jun 19 2013
  

       I'd watch a race like that...through powerful binoculars, naturally.
Alterother, Jun 19 2013
  

       I sorta see it as a checkpointed rally race: you could use road surfaces, if available, or take off-road routes.
FlyingToaster, Jun 19 2013
  

       bigsleep, Jun 19 2013   

       That was pretty much how I thought this may work. I am also thinking of this as a 'jump jet' affair, where it is not really fully VTOL capable, but has some vectored thrust capability to "push downwards" the GEV (ground effect vehicle) during the inital stage of the race to gather speed (Manuvering thrusters in the middle of the GEV could point 45 degrees upwards).   

       Once the computer has detected it is safe to retract the wheels, the GEV could quickly switch the manuvering thrusters 45 degrees downwards to "Jump" into crusing height. From there, the thrusters can then switch to "stability mode" to help turn corners better.   

       Also I like your ideas of skis, but its not very good with friction. Maybe it uses 'wheels' for normal road, and switch to skis when about to land on uneven terrain?
mofosyne, Jun 20 2013
  

       I'm still thinking it's easier to move the ground. Simply wrap a slice of turf around a looped motorised belt.   

       For the more humane user the the turf goes on an inner loop, so preserving the normal direction of downwards force, not to confuse geotropism and small insects.   

       "Luckily, the ground broke my fall". S. Milligan.
not_morrison_rm, Jun 22 2013
  

       Perhaps the 'Bakery's Unlikely Physics Department can show me otherwise, but my layman's sense tells me that ground effect might not work on a banked curve. Pilots occasionally have trouble with it on perfectly flat runways as it is.
Alterother, Jun 22 2013
  
      
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