Australia’s drag racing industry is in an uproar after a new research paper by University of Melbourne researchers found drag racing is a better option for drivers than road racing.
The paper published today (AEDT) in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that race cars were more successful at winning races compared to road cars.
Dr Peter Devereux from the University of Victoria said the findings supported what he and his colleagues had been finding in the research community for years.
“We’re looking at what is the optimal environment for a race car to perform best,” he said.
“So we think we can get a more realistic picture of what is optimal for a road race than just a race.” “
Dr Devereaux said it was important to recognise that a road or drag car had more of a mechanical advantage because of its smaller wheelbase. “
So we think we can get a more realistic picture of what is optimal for a road race than just a race.”
Dr Devereaux said it was important to recognise that a road or drag car had more of a mechanical advantage because of its smaller wheelbase.
“It’s about a lot of weight, a lot more surface area, and the drag coefficient is higher,” he explained.
“And we’re also dealing with a lot fewer suspension points.”
The team at the University said it hoped the study would help clarify the debate and help reduce the perception that road racing was better for drivers.
“The results of the research indicate that drag racing offers a more challenging racing environment,” Dr Deveaux said.
He said the study also revealed that road cars could be more efficient in the corners compared to drag racing cars.
“You can actually drive the same car with a drag racing and a road racing track, which is pretty much a different ballgame,” he added.
“We think the road cars are just as capable, if not more so, than the drag cars.”
Dr Andrew MacKay, from the Australian National University’s Centre for Advanced Research in Applied Sciences, said the research had “serious implications for how we think about the role of the human body in driving a race”.
“It suggests that the body has an advantage when it comes to overtaking, braking, braking and cornering,” he told the ABC.
“This is probably an important area to consider when we’re designing race cars.”
The research also highlighted that road car manufacturers often used drag technology, rather than a road vehicle’s chassis and engine, when developing cars for the road.
“A road car is just a car with wheels, which you can drive through corners,” Dr MacKay said.
“[Drag cars] have much more complicated engines and the wheels are usually not as close together as a road, which makes the car more vulnerable to things like potholes.”
Dr Mackay said there was also evidence that the human race was not perfect.
“Race cars are incredibly complex machines that are built in factories, and when they’re designed by engineers, there are many variables that can go into it,” he noted.
“That is the main reason why there’s been so much interest in race cars in the past.”
The human race can be flawed, and this study suggests that in certain circumstances, there is a difference between a race and a street car.
“So race cars could provide some good insight into how human beings work and what the human condition is like.”
The Australian National Research Council’s (ANRAC) road safety research body said the results of this study indicated that the role for the human driver in driving the race car was less critical than previously thought.
“If there was a human factor that led to a race win, it might be better to use a road and drag car,” Dr Paul Patey said.