North American Eagle Using Modified Jet Fighter in Land Speed Record Bid
Originally Posted by Rachel Park, CAD Digest
When you talk about driving fast, conversation typically turns to motorsport – maybe NASCAR, certainly Formula 1, perhaps MotoGP, and the like. These sports command attention and produce excitement, with high profile teams in the public consciousness, and drivers who in the minds of mere mortals exist as demi-gods. It’s all down to one central element: SPEED. As a species, we are fascinated with racing and speed. These days, increasing vehicular speed goes hand-in-hand with superior engineering principles and high-grade computing power to produce milliseconds of extra speed for the vehicles that we watch and admire as they are raced along and around the track.
Beyond the track, however, is a hard-core group of individuals who are pushing for the ultimate in speed – the land speed record. The record stands from 1997 and is held by Thrust SSC, led by Richard Noble and his team in the UK. In the USA, the North American Eagle (NAE) project is working to break the record. It is the brainchild of racing driver Ed Shadle and business partner Keith Zanghi. The two men share a dream that originated in 1999, and they share an obsession with speed with a dedicated and committed team in a bid to break the current land speed record of 763 miles per hour (1,120kph).
Ed is resolute in his belief that the record should be brought back to the USA, and so is currently working, with his team and some high profile sponsors, to do just that. The project involves converting the jet from a former USAF Lockheed F-104 fighter aircraft into a sophisticated land vehicle operating on earth with a speed goal of 800mph.
I caught up with Ed to find out more about his mission and how one NAE sponsor in particular – Lenovo – is contributing to this mission.
Not just one of the principle owners of NAE, Ed is also project manager and the designated driver! It should come as no surprise that Ed’s fascination with speed is born of 23 years as an experienced race driver. Already with 31 test-drives under his belt as the car is being developed, Ed knows every single nut and bolt. He understands precisely how the NAE does and should perform, and as such he plans on being in the driving seat when the team goes for the record in 2013.
While the physical development of the car is fundamental to its performance, to get every ounce of performance just right there is great deal of digital work that goes on behind the scenes. Simulation of the car’s components and the complete car itself is done using digital tools such as CFD (computational fluid dynamics) to check the air flow and FEA (finite element analysis) to optimize the car’s strength. Comprehensive data acquisition is vital in understanding all the elements of the car’s performance.