This blog originally started with something about how James Hunt is a big figure in motorsport, then finally totally lost its way describing people I’ve met in the last couple of years. The last thing this needs to be is a linked-in style, “isn’t everyone wonderful, aren’t I amazing” posting. For the record the parties involved are listed at the end of this. Much more appropriate.
So instead, something a bit more factual. I’ve become peripherally involved in a project to restore the two Dastle F3 cars run by Hesketh in the 1972 season. These cars are relatively well documented if you take the time to look. F3history.co.uk has some pictures (http://www.f3history.co.uk/Manufacturers/Dastle/dastle.htm) and a brief chronology, and there are podcasts and even TV interviews which cover the early history of the Hesketh team. Even ebay managed to serve up a print of the classic Druids formation shot. So there’s no real need to cover the same ground here.
What I’m going to talk about here is something more specific to the world of CAE that I inhabit. When I rebuilt my Van-Diemen RF84 I started to draw it as I went along. The idea was to have a reference for new parts and to understand how it went together; but that project went nowhere when I struggled to get the nascent CAD system I’d chosen to actually model a complete car and I discovered that I could buy everything I needed off the shelf from Ken and Simon at Universal. But the Dastle project is different. There is no Universal Racing Services for Dastles, and knowledge of how they work isn’t easily come by. So this time a model seemed a necessity rather than a luxury, and something I can contribute to the project. To quote Albert Einstein – “If I can’t draw it, then I don’t understand it”.
Being a simulation engineer my plan is to create a simple representation and add complexity as needed. Already this process is yielding huge benefits, for me at least. In the total absence of drawings, notes and calculations it’s allowing us to get inside the head of the designer (Geoff Rumble according to f3history.co.uk – if you are still out there Geoff I’ve got a 1000 questions for you) and reconstruct the most important thing – the original design intent. You can’t get that by pointing a hairdryer at the car. Some parts will need scanning, though not as many as people might imagine; mostly this is about putting in the hours with a tape measure, rule and vernier. And taking enough photo’s, which I almost never do.
This is definitely “a how it started” post. A real work in progress; I’ll post updates as the model is developed. As usual a CAE representation has generated significantly more questions than answers and prompted a lot of thought about what the design intent was. The overarching question for me is what was designed and what just happened as the cars were manufactured. The model won’t be able to answer that; talking to right people and looking at contemporary references may help there (I’ve got a copy of Racing Car Design and Development by Terry and Baker which may shed some light on the design process in the early 70’s). But the model does provide a focus for this activity and a means of understanding how things function and how they can be engineered to run properly again. At the very least it’s something to point at and scribble over whilst we try to work out a strategy for the restoration process.
And as the man said “If I can’t draw it, then I don’t understand it”. TBC.
Who’s who section:
BIOS-Sport: Peter Sneller and Arthur Griffin (Arthur drew the wheels and tyres)
Classic and Sports Finance: Robert Johnson (Owner)