Customizing a Thunder Roadster: Airflow Simulation

   By TriMech Marketing on June 6, 2019

In our previous blog post, we walked through the process of gathering usable data by 3D scanning the entire outside of Ryan’s car. TriMech’s Project Engineering Group helped us convert the scanned data into a usable SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD model of the Thunder Roadster. With this model, we’ll be able to make, evaluate, verify and even modify the vehicle for ultimate performance!

3D_Model_of_the_Roadster_in_SOLIDWORKS.

3D model of the Thunder Roadster in SOLIDWORKS

Looking at the Competition

Racing, by nature, is a competitive business and all racers are trying for the top spot. Our initial quest was to maximize the airflow to the engine. The car is powered by a Suzuki Hayabusa engine mounted at 90 degrees to how an engine is normally mounted. Given the different engine direction, Ryan wanted to verify that the engine was getting the air required properly function at all racing speeds.

Yellow Race CarIn addition, he noticed that some of the other racers had modified the bodies of their cars for different aerodynamics. Some, like the one shown on this image, have extended flat sections and wings on the rear while others have added canards and splitters to the bodies.

Wind tunnels are used to evaluate how air flows around an objectNormally, changes like these that affect how air flows around an object are verified for performance at a wind tunnel. Automotive performance wind tunnels, in particular, are specialty locations designed to imitate the conditions of road driving at different speeds. Special instrumentation and expensive data acquisition systems are usually required in order to get usable results from these types of tests. 

Ryan decided to avoid the high costs and lost time of going to a wind tunnel by doing a study of the car in SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation.

Testing the Airflow with SOLIDWORKS Simulation

SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation gave us access to powerful computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis capabilities that helped us understand how the air flows across the hood of the car and does indeed reach the intake plane on the hood. The easy-to-use and familiar interface allowed Ryan to set up the conditions that would replicate racing at various speeds.

As our main concern was the airflow reaching the engine hood scoop, Ryan decided to only conduct the study across the front section of the roadster. This will minimize the time and resources for the analysis, yet still, provide the same results as if the whole car had been analyzed.

Simulated Wind Tunnel Test of the Hood in SOLIDWORKS

Simulated wind tunnel test of the hood in SOLIDWORKS


Flow Study Results showing flow across the hood of the car and into the hood scoop

Flow Study results showing flow across the hood of the car and into the hood scoop


Watch our full video below to hear about Ryan’s experience performing the airflow simulation using SOLIDWORKS Simulation and how he utilized the results.

Now that the flow across the hood has been verified, the next steps are to design some guide inlets to make sure that the air entering the hood scoop is making its way to the engine’s intake manifold. We will use SOLIDWORKS for the design and explore a few different manufacturing methods to make sure our design can withstand the grueling demands of the racing world. 

Click on the buttons below to read the rest of the blog posts in this series. 

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TriMech provides thousands of engineering teams with 3D design and rapid prototyping solutions that work hand-in-hand, from sketch to manufacturing. InterPro became a part of TriMech Solutions LLC in 2021.

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