Brickyard weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is probably the most hectic 48 hours in motorsports. The top three American racing series all compete back-to-back – which means that pit lane has three times more people than usual. Fans everywhere are taking selfies and hounding their favorite drivers for autographs. Crew members are trying to weave tire carts through the huge crowds. Course marshals are blowing their safety whistles. Celebrities are giving interviews in front of camera crews, while surrounded by fans, sponsors, and general hangers-on. One supporter literally fist-bumps a stack of tires belonging to his favorite driver.
Into this chaos steps Jonathan Hassler (BSME ’07), crew chief for NASCAR's #12 Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney.
His entrance goes unnoticed, without even a single autograph request. And that’s the way he prefers it. While most fans will be paying attention to the person behind the wheel, it’s actually the 3-ring binder in Hassler’s right hand which may be the difference between his team finishing mid-pack, or taking the checkered flag.
Tian Li, assistant professor in mechanical engineering, is part of a $2 million National Science Foundation (NSF) project to help develop low-cost, sustainable materials that also can repair themselves and capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
At most motorsports events, earplugs are an absolute necessity to dampen the massive roar of internal combustion engines. But attend the evGrandPrix, and you’ll only hear two sounds: students cheering, and dozens of electric race cars zooming past at 50 miles an hour – with all the sound and fury of an electric toothbrush.
These lightning-fast whirs represent a lot of very clever engineering. Purdue’s Electric Vehicle Club (EVC) specializes in creating these electric vehicles, and they recently shared the challenges of turning the quietest car into the fastest car.