PROFILES AND COURAGE - Derby Tech - December, 1985

by George Brower

To many Americans being the biggest is being the best. Just the opposite is true in Derby racing. Large drivers have little chance to win the Junior Division or the All-American's proposed new Senior Division. A large driver, by my definition, is one who races with his shoulders more than three inches above the minimum car top height. About 50 percent of all drivers fall into the large category.

We recently did some hill tests that could 1. Help people decide in what division they would be the most competitive, and 2. Help Officials enact rules that would make each division more competitive for all contestants.


Purpose: To see if a sit-up driver's frontal area makes any difference, and if so how much? To do this we tried to keep everything as constant as possible except for the driver's racing position.

Constants: We used Rayner Brower's ramps (see Derby Tech, December 1984) for consistent starts; good drivers of comparable ability (all drives were not counted) ; identically built and weighted cars; the cars and their wheels stayed in the same lane throughout all the tests.

Differences; We had four different tests and each took four good consistent.drives. In all, we counted only 16 good race results.

Test I - Driver A was in car 1 in normal driving position. Driver B sat straight-up in car 2.

Test II - Driver A was in car 1 in normal driving position. Driver B sat half-way between straight-up and normal driving position.

Test III - Driver A was in car 1 and driver B in car 2. Both were in normal driving position.

Test IV - Driver A changed to car 2 and driver B to car 1. Both were in normal driving position.

RESULTS The chart below shows that driver A won every race because of a smaller driver frontal area (more streamlined). Tests III and IV show that driver A's frontal area is 23 inches faster than B's (25 plus 21 divided by 2) . Driver A had his shoulders 2 inches lower than B when they both were in normal driving position. The average winning margin increases as a geometric type progression for each additional inch that one driver's frontal area is larger than the other.


The driver's frontal area (driving position) makes a tremendous difference. if your shoulders are only two inches higher than your opponent (as were driver B's in tests III and IV), you're giving up nearly two feet. If your shoulders are more than 3 inches above the minimum height of the car top, you should consider racing in another division. This goes for both the junior division and the proposed All-American senior division. Winning a race is hard enough without giving up two feet or more before you start.

If the All-American and NDR want the size of the driver to play a minor role in who wins a Derby race, they must have a minimum racer size and shape that allows the large driver to put his shoulders under or behind some part of the car. otherwise these larger drivers will be left hanging in the wind, and left hanging way behind. Simply put, they won't have a chance in a timer swap race.

It takes a lot of courage for large profile drivers to spend the time and effort to build a racer that he knows will not win! . . . . . . . . . .

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