Back When Aero Testing Was Simple

Photography Credit: N.A. Ferris/Racer Walsh

Back when aero testing was simple, it involved just tufts of yarn, a confident friend, and maybe some toll money.

The situation: Racer Walsh had to prepare a new Ford Pinto for the IMSA RS series, replacing one that crashed at Lime Rock in 1973. Peter Piik piloted the race car during this test session while team leader Jerry Walsh drove the chase vehicle.

The place: Racer Walsh is now based in Jacksonville, Florida, but back then it hailed from Suffern, New York. Its test track was the nearby New York Thruway. The year was 1974. Things were different.

Small footnote: Jerry’s son, Brian Walsh, now operates Racer Walsh and campaigns the very Pinto that wrecked in 1973.

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wspohn Dork
7/17/20 12:55 p.m.

When Italian  cars looked like this:

the Germans were doing this (in the 1930s):

I remember being amazed to be able to take a relly good look at the 1930s Auto Unions and Mercedes when they came to Laguna in the old days - they had a pretty good idea of aerodynamic design.  Musy have got practice working on planes coming up to 1939.....

Warlock New Reader
7/18/20 6:24 p.m.

Most of the influence for the Auto Union and Mercedes streamliners came from Austrians (or if you're looking at modern maps, Hungarians and Czechs) who'd worked in aviation during WWI, and were at the forefront of automotive streamlining experiments after the war.  Several of these ended up at Tatra in the late '20s/early '30s, and influenced both the German racers -- in particular, Porsche admitted to regular correspondence and collaboration with counterparts at Tatra.

wspohn Dork
7/19/20 11:36 a.m.

That's interesting. The Tatra was a kind of Czech Tucker, although Tatra did the 87 before the war ad Tucker made his cars right after the war.

I was aware of the connection between Tatra and VW/Porsche but not that the Mercs and Auto Unions were influenced by them. 

xuu9 New Reader
7/21/20 9:02 a.m.

wow. that's amazing. thanks, interesting read. I never knew that it was so simple in the past.

and as in terms for the old school cars - sad there's nobody to manufacture something similar.. they have something "special"...

Brian_13 New Reader
7/21/20 2:48 p.m.
wspohn said:

That's interesting. The Tatra was a kind of Czech Tucker, although Tatra did the 87 before the war ad Tucker made his cars right after the war.

By that, I assume that you mean that Tucker was a con man who copied Tatra designs, specifically the use of a large rear-mounted air-cooled engine, and a central headlight. wink

Warlock New Reader
7/21/20 3:18 p.m.

In reply to xuu9 :

absolutely....lots of power with 'specially no brakes, and no grip.... :)  I've never read an interview with a modern driver who's had a crack at one of these who didn't comment that they were a bit of a fright to drive.  

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