Between the Phoenix International Raceway, Firebird International Raceway, Hot Rodding, Rat Rodding, Go-Karting, or whatever else may come to mind, Phoenix Arizona is no stranger to the art of racing. While all of these various genres of the sport are exciting and offer much in the way of entertainment, the auto enthusiast may find themselves wondering why the vehicles do not seem to chnge very much over the years. Part of this is based in tradition and showmanship. Auto racing is, after all, show business. But the industry is turning, “geek” culture is on the rise in all sectors of American society, and the culture surrounding auto-racing is increasingly becoming more diverse and tech savvy. The crowds can see behind the curtain, and they are asking about the future of high-tech innovation in a changing and growing sport.
Today’s race car engineers are experimenting with lightweight materials, like carbon fiber, to make race-cars safer and stronger, while innovators are becoming increasingly involved and interested in alternative fuels and propulsion systems. These newcomers on the scene are beginning to race cars that function very differently than the cars that you may see at Talladega or the Indy 500. It’s tough to say where all of these new ideas will take racing, but the 5th Annual L.A. Auto Show Design Challenge offers a glimpse at the types of race-cars some automotive designers are envisioning for the future.
The purpose behind the LA Auto Show Design Challenge was to solicit new and innovative ideas and concepts for the future of racing from the worlds top designers and engineers. Some of these teams presented themselves with special challenges, not only changing the face of the race-car, but also changing the rules of the race all together. Designers from Audi imagined and designed a vehicle that would allow one driver to pass another by driving on the ceiling of a tunnel, while Toyota imagined and designed a vehicle which would change shape in mid race depending on what was needed from it, while also altering the driver’s perception of the race depending on what he or she would most benefit from seeing.
The fuel concepts of the future are equally as innovative and fascinating. Imagine drivers loading their vehicle with algae, or lowering a drum of fuel into the vehicle Star Wars style. The designs draw on everything from solar and wind power, to gravity, jet propulsion, and alternative fuels.
Entering its seventh year, this international design event continues to draw more and more innovative concepts from around the globe. While America auto racing will always be rooted in a uniquely American car culture, which will continue to influence the designs,innovation exists for a reason, because it gives competition an advantage and helps a driver or auto manufacturer to win. Phoenix Arizona residents should be expecting to see some of these new design concepts hitting the asphalt at Firebird and elsewhere soon.