16 October 2007 - 12:12Upside Down Racing League

Ah sigh, another of my brilliant ideas appears to have been had independently, further encouraging me to finally start writing them down.

Modern race cars (Formula 1 and Indy cars in particular) have wings and tunnels providing downforce, to increase traction. In fact, so much downforce that they could actually drive upside down. So why not an upside down racing league, or URL? Probably a big oval track with some kind of half-loops as ramps to get started. Such a track would be expensive to build, but seems to me to be completely plausible. The cars would have to be designed for this of course, as things like oil pumps are not usually built to run upside down. I remember reading in Popular Mechanics years ago about the twin-rotor helicopter that would be able to fly upside down, limited only by the oiling system. And obviously many piston powered airplanes can do it. It would also be hard on the drivers to sit upside down like that lap after lap. Perhaps cars would be designed to have the driver upright with the wheels above him.

I’m sure there would be a market for such racing. One problem is that everyone wants to see crashes at a race. The crashes on this track might be spectacular, but I envision the track being over water or a net or something to reduce deaths. And the crashes wouldn’t multiply–any car losing speed would just fall out of the way, leaving no debris on the track. But I still think it would be really cool to see and be technically challenging to the competitors. Hard to imagine much spin-off technology to street cars though.

And this would be much more feasible than my new idea for upside down sailboat racing….

1 Comment | Tags: idea


  1. So, a couple of things first at what speed do the cars have this much force? Whats the minimum speed that they could travel at? If The cars have to go over 150 Miles per hour just to hold on to the roof then the cars might fall off the celling when they come around turns. Any sources on the data for how fast the car needs to be going to provide 1G of downward (towards the pavement) force?

    Second, it occurs to me that one reason the cars want so much down force is that they need if for the additional additional traction. I doubt they accelerate at greater than 1G when already going 100 plus mile per hour, but they might well need it for evasive maneuvers. running upside down, cars would not be able to turn as sharply. It the car only provide 1.1 Gs of Down force, the tires would only be held on with 0.1 Gs while the car is running upside down. This would probably make for a very slippery car.

    Third, so if the driver is upside down most of the time blood runs to his head. If he sits upside down to the “right side up’ car, then he has to start the car upside down., My personal favorite , a gimbled driver seat, does solve that problem, but adds more weight to the car and presents a serious visibility problem for the driver. ( his feet are on the floorboards against the road near the tires ) This could be fixed by giving the driver a VR helmet that contains images from a camera on the top of the car. This way the driver would always see the view he would if he were sitting upright in the car under normal circumstances.